The revolutions on the wheels of the M&A train not only continue to chug along at breakneck speed, it’s actually starting to feel like this locomotive is quickly becoming one of the oh-so familiar runaway varieties that are a staple of theme parks worldwide.
At the time of writing we have witnessed one further entrant courtesy of a certain Dublin-headquartered operator juggernaut that has purchased 51 per cent of MaxBet for €141m.
However, you don’t need me to ramble on and on about the plethora of transactions that are being witnessed on a global scale. I will simply ask if one key section of the industry has thus far proven to be relatively immune to the acquisition bug?
This was certainly the opinion of one industry veteran, who for the purposes of this piece will remain anonymous, at the recent SBC Summit Barcelona. Despite this, aggregators have seemingly not fallen off the radar altogether, as this particular company has been in the receipt of several approaches.
“Too many platforms seem far more interested with the numbers that they can boast”
This viewpoint came alongside a boom in aggregation. The model has proven to be invaluable to studios both large and small in getting games to market. Operators are also able to take on numerous games studios through one or a number of selected aggregators, eliminating the excessive and unnecessary costs of direct integrations.
With all of this being said, and swinging back to the issue at hand, it’s not to say that aggregation has not been a part of any purchase witnessed in recent memory.
One such example that first sprung to this writer’s mind concerns Kindred Group’s 2021 purchase of Relax Gaming in a €320m deal.
This particular company now provides access to a roster of over 4,000 casino games, with aggregated content from more than 70 partner studios provided through its selected Silver Bullet and Powered By Relax programs.
We have often seen aggregation businesses form part of a wider operation within a group, with IGT and NeoGames’ additions of iSoftBet and Pariplay evidence of this.
However, consolidation concerning those that you could say ‘specialise’ in this particular area have proven to be far from commonplace. This will undoubtedly change, but a scattergun approach will lead to undoubted failure. Shock, I know.
More modern and agile aggregators will undoubtedly triumph before the aforementioned carriages begin an inevitable decelaration, while those that fall into the old slots adage will be those that are left behind.
Quantity versus quality is a debate far too often thrown the way of slots studios, but this is also evident within the realm that we are currently discussing. Too many platforms seem far more interested with the numbers that they can boast, rather than the overall standard of the titles that they are able to integrate.
“…each and every aggregation platform seems to be the ‘go to for operators’”
That being said, each and every aggregation platform seems to be the ‘go to for operators’, so maybe I’m completely wrong and potential purchasers can approach this like a novice picking up a dart for the first time.
Nevertheless, as has been witnessed elsewhere across the industry, as more and more aggregators spring into life, and the inevitable crossovers occur, be that operators and/or markets served, mergers are simply bound to happen.
It is not simply all about the content though, but, as previously alluded to, this must be of the highest standard. A strong global distribution network, the tech support offered, supporting features included and promotion tools available are just a smattering of the qualities of those that will first fall in the M&A crosshairs.
It remains to be seen how M&A will hit the aggregation scene, be it larger entities looking to enhance their product or operators witnessing the potential of cost effective expansion, but as the proverb goes, time is money. And in this example, speed to market and agility could well be the key qualities for interested parties.