Aristocrat Leisure Ltd has moved forward with its growth strategy, entering into a ‘number of deals’ to expand its digital game development capabilities in European markets.

Three new studios will join Aristocrat Digital as a result of the agreements, strengthening the firm’s access to developmental “top-tier” mobile game talent hubs and studio operations across Northern and Eastern Europe.

The partnerships and investments target specific genres, particularly the casual and merge segments – earmarked as “high growth” sectors – in which the company already maintains a presence. The social casino segment has also been highlighted due to Aspire maintaining an international “market leading position”.

“These deals are consistent with Aristocrat’s successful strategy of bringing more world-class game development talent and capability into the organisation to expand our game pipeline and sustain our strong growth momentum in Digital,” said Michael Lang, CEO, Aristocrat Digital.

The three studios added to Aspire’s network are Helsinki-based free-to-play mobile gaming developer Futureplay, Northern Stars – a new studio also based in Helsinki – and Gdańsk-headquartered Playsoft, a mobile gaming studio specialising in the social casino space. 

Aristocrat is hopeful that the acquisition of Futureplay, which specialises in the growing merge/match three segment of the casual market, will enable the firm to diversity its portfolio by integrating the latter’s casual mobile capabilities with its own asset Plarium’s “best-in-class game development infrastructure and marketing expertise”.

Futureplay’s titles include Merge Gardens, Idle Farming Empire and Battlelands Royale and the company will operate under the leadership of Jami Laes, whilst Northern Stars – which Aspire intends to leverage to focus on the focus on the emerging hybrid casual genre – will be overseen by Minwoo Lee and Antti Nikander.

Both Lee and Nikander have experience working at the Rovio games studio, whilst Lee has also served in positions at EA and Ubisoft. Lastly, Playsoft will operate under the umbrella of Aristocrat’s Product Madness business, with the aim of accelerating the asset’s pipeline and innovation for the European market under the leadership of Nicolas Bensignor and Pierre Olivier Monteil.

Lang added: “We are thrilled to welcome Futureplay, Northern Stars and Playsoft to the Aristocrat Digital family, given their impressive track records in game development, creativity and innovation. 

“Coupled with Aristocrat Digital’s ambitious strategy, global scale, marketing and investment capabilities, we look forward to helping our new colleagues reach new heights as part of Aristocrat.”

Aristocrat’s goals for further strategic expansion and product development follows on from its last financial trading report, which saw the ASX-registered firm record a one per cent decline in overall revenue to AU$2.22bn.

Lang concluded: “We will continue to be active in pursuing global talent and studio deals that accelerate our growth strategy, alongside our sustained proven focus in driving organic growth and above market results.”