Keywords Studios acquires Japanese company for €1.27m

Dublin gaming firm with €1.15bn market value acquired another company last week

Irish video gaming company Keywords Studios has acquired a machine learning business from a Japanese-based developer for $1.5 million (€1.27 million).

Keywords, based in Sandyford, Co Dublin, acquired the business and assets of Yokozuna Data from Silicon Studio Corporation – a developer of advanced gaming technologies. Yokozuna Data's solutions have been in development for the past three years and are now ready for commercial roll-out.

Keywords is listed on London's AIM market and has a market value of €1.15 billion. It provides services to 23 of the top 25 most prominent games companies globally, including Tencent, Electronic Arts, Oculus, Supercell, Activision, Microsoft, Sega, Nintendo and Ubisoft.

This latest acquisition, announced on Monday, is intended to help the group "establish a foothold" in video game analytics, according to the company's chief executive, Andrew Day.


“As games continue to transition to a service model from a product model, the use of sophisticated analytics engines like this to automatically understand player behaviour and trigger real time decisions in-game will become increasingly valuable to our clients,” Mr Day said.

Artificial intelligence

“The use of AI to constantly adapt the predictive models to changes that are made in the games – such as when new items, expansion packs and promotions are introduced – is critical to the future of the video games industry, so we are delighted to have secured this leading-edge technology,” he added.

Monday’s announcement follows another acquisition last Friday, when Keywords picked up a video-gaming codevelopment and engineering service provider. The company acquired Canada-based Snowed In Studios for up to $4 million Canadian (€2.59 million).

In less than a decade, Keywords has grown from being a small studio employing 50 people at a single site in Dublin to one that now has up to 5,000 working across 42 locations in 20 countries. It has also shifted from being a single-service business to one with lines covering integrated art production, engineering, audio services, testing, localisation and player support services across 50 languages and 14 game platforms.

Tokyo foothold

The addition of Yokozuna Data gives the group a foothold in Tokyo, where the company’s team have developed tools that predict individual player behaviour and adapt themselves in responses to changes made in a game.

Those models are used to determine the likelihood of players abandoning a game and their propensity to buy items in the game.

As part of this agreement Silicon Studio Corporation will “collaborate” with Keywords to introduce the technology to Japanese game developers. Additionally, it holds a nonexclusive right to resell the solution into markets other than gaming.

Davy analyst Joseph Quinn viewed the acquisition as positive "given Yokozuna Data's ability to determine a player's likelihood to abandon a game or propensity to buy items in the game". Davy retained its "neutral" rating on the stock.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business