Disney acquires Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, suggests prominent role for mobile gaming

What does this mean for Rovio?

Disney acquires Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, suggests prominent role for mobile gaming

Disney has agreed a $4.05bn cash and stock deal to acquire Lucasfilm and its accompanying properties (including Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and also Lucasarts).

The company also simultaneously announced a plan to green light a new series of Star Wars films set for release every two to three years beginning with Star Wars VII in 2015.

Whilst this news in itself was sufficient to cause a considerable disturbance in the wider entertainment media force, subsequent statements seem to suggest that mobile games could have an important role to play in Disney's plans for the brand.

Mobile over console

During an investor call, CEO Robert Iger fielded questions on the games industry implications with a clear statement of intent, saying the firm is "likely to focus more on social and mobile than we are on console."

Qualifying the position further, Iger seemed to suggest that the status quo would remain in tact with regards the console business.

"We'll look opportunistically at console, most likely in licensing rather than publishing, but we think that given the nature of these characters and how well known they are, and the storytelling, that they lend themselves quite nicely, as they've already demonstrated to the other platforms.’

Naturally, this does beg some rather interesting questions about the first branded mobile game due under the new regime, namely Rovio's Angry Birds Star Wars.

Combining Iger's statement above with Disney's considerable app store success via the likes of Where's My Water, it's tempting to assume that the Orlando-based company would take more direct control over mobile gaming output and that this deal with Rovio may end up being merely a one-off.

Eye on Rovio?

The counter argument assumes that Disney would have been well aware of pending deals during the negotiation and due diligence process and evidently raised no objection, which could actually infer a closer relationship between the two companies around Star Wars or indeed other properties.

What's more, if you follow the latter train of thought, it doesn't take too much of a leap of faith to believe rumours that Disney were and are looking to add Rovio to a burgeoning collection of studios and IP.
If that is the case, however, price could well be a pertinent issue.

Considering Star Wars films alone have grossed over $ 4.2 billion at the box-office (before taking into account home entertainment sales, licensing deals, spin-off series and games not to mention non-Star Wars output - including the Indiana Jones franchise) the valuation of $4 billionn seems a little on the light side, coming in below Marvel's $4.2 billion and considerably less than the $7.4 billionn paid for LucasFilm spin-off Pixar.

Against this backdrop the ever increasing quoted valuations of Rovio (which have fluctuated between $3bn and $9bn during the year) would seem somewhat exuberant.

Sale of the century

That's not something that Lucasfilm's founder will likely spend much time fretting over.

Aside from figuring out how to spend $4 billion, Lucas (who was 100 percent owner) will remain in an advisory capacity whilst Kathleen Kennedy (current co-chairman of Lucasfilm and co-founder of Amblin Entertainment) takes the reigns, reporting in to Walt Disney Studio's chairman Alan Horn.

In a visibly emotional video farewell Lucas explained his rationale for the sale.

"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime."

"I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organisation, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come."

Chris James
Chris James
A footy game fanatic and experienced editor of numerous computing and game titles, bossman Chris is up for anything – including running Steel Media (the madman).