How Playtika fumbled its $600m acquisition of Redecor


As Rovio ruminates on Playtika’s unsolicited acquisition bid, let’s take look at the Israeli firm’s track record with some of Rovio’s fellow Finns.

Firstly, there’s Seriously. Playtika bought the Best Fiends maker in August 2019, but closed the Helsinki studio last year, moving production of its flagship game to its owned studios in Poland and Israel.

No matter what you might think of Playtika’s actions here, Best Fiends is still performing fairly consistently, earning over $6m per month since March 2019 according to Appmagic data. It is down year-on-year for January, though, posting earnings of $8m in January 2022 compared to 2023’s total of $6.8m.

We broke the news of Seriously’s closure in October 2022.

The more concerning story is what’s happened to fellow Finns Reworks. In August 2021, Playtika announced that it would be buying Redecor maker Reworks for up to $600m. Since then, all of the Reworks founders – Ilkka Teppo, Aaro Väänänen, Jarno Heikkinen, Jarno Fabritius and Miika Fabritius – are gone.

And Playtika confirmed to us that on Redecor itself, “functions like product, monetisation, live ops etcetera are now based out of Israel,” though the Helsinki studio remains.

Naavik Pro’s analysis of how Playtika has handled Redecor post-acquisition does not make for great reading either – especially if you’re working at Rovio right now.

Indeed, having broken down exactly how Playtika has mismanaged Redecor in recent months, Naavik Pro contributor Eva Grillova concludes:  “We don’t know whether Rovio will say yes or no, but the history with Redecor (among other acquired games and studios in Playtika’s recent history) should give the Rovio team pause.”

“If not careful, they could walk into a situation that, despite a meaningful share price premium, creates even more value destruction — for players, for employees, and for Playtika shareholders,” Grillova continues.

“Let Redecor’s story be a shining light on the fragility of success in mobile games, as well as the difficulty and importance of finding the right acquirer for studios looking to sell.”

Let’s get into what Playtika changed within Redecor on a product level. Post-acquisition, particularly from November 2021-2022, Playtika tested a host of new features.

This meant, simply put, that “screws were tightened to squeeze even more out of Redecor’s existing players,” says Naavik’s Grillova. “As a result, between July and October of 2022, Redecor’s MAU went down by 46%.”

Redecor downloads, active users and revenue are all trending down since January 2022.

In November 2022 Playtika implemented big changes to the currency systems, raising the price of in-game items and reducing rewards for completed quests, driving more of Redecor’s most committed players away.

“Playtika misjudged the Redecor audience by throwing it into the same bucket as social casino players, overlooking that they have more motivations to play than to watch their coin balance,” continues Grillova. “Another miscalculation was estimating the potential ability to acquire new players as larger than it actually was, probably seeing the game as more mainstream than it was in reality.”

There’s such more detail and analysis on Playtika’s economy, gameplay and balance changes in the full report, which concludes: “Redecor’s future looks dim unless Playtika changes its approach to managing this type of game, which we’re skeptical will happen.”

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