Game Maker Maker Bought By Online Gambling Firm

Game Maker and developers YoYo Games have been bought for £10 million by PlayTech, a company specialising in online gambling. To which the consensus response from the Game Makering community so far seems to be, “Uh oh.” PlayTech predominantly provide software to online casinos, which means that Game Maker theoretically fits alongside an existing stable of software tools, but when your livelihood or creativity is tied to a piece of third-party software, it’s always nervy times when someone new with unknown goals steps into the mix.

PlayTech released a short statement saying little but that “This acquisition will enable the company to further diversify its business, benefiting from a combined B2B/B2C offering focused on a strong and growing segment of the wider gaming market.”

Game Maker is a wonderful thing in part because it’s easy to use and in part because it has free and cheap versions that lower the bar of accessibility. The greatest risk with an acquisition is that PlayTech will decide to focus on one part of the business over another, perhaps favouring more profitable business-to-business relationships – as per their current gambling model – over selling to consumers.

This is purely idle speculation, however. It’s just as likely that the company will want to maintain what’s an already a successful business. Or maybe they’ll implement betting mechanics into the game, in which you can bet on whether the code you just wrote will work first time. I will put everything I own on “No way.”

37 Comments

  1. AlwaysRight says:

    “This acquisition will enable the company to further diversify its business, benefiting from a combined B2B/B2C offering focused on a strong and growing segment of the wider gaming market.”

    What the flip does that mean!?

    • Ross Angus says:

      I’ll have a stab:

      Buying Game Maker will let us do slightly different stuff. We’ll try and sell software to businesses and consumers. We’ve read somewhere that kids like computer games, and that old people who don’t like games are dying. We want some of those kid’s moneys.

    • solidsquid says:

      Pretty much what Ross Angus said, they aren’t seeing enough growth selling software to gambling companies and want to try selling in a new market

    • frymaster says:

      B2B is business-to-business and B2C is business-to-consumer

      ie they still want the software to appeal to bedroom coders as well as small studios

    • jrodman says:

      I think the main thing this means is “we are still using dumb acronyms from c. 2000. Can someone let us see the sunlight again?”

  2. Lobotomist says:

    What does it mean?

    Another one bites the dust

    • darkhog says:

      Well, time to move to the amazing GDevelop. Not only it is 1,000,000,000 times better than Game Maker, but it is also 100% free (as in freedom!)

    • Asdfreak says:

      I feel like everytime one bites the dust, another one comes to take it’s place. I’d put my money on Godot (like in the theatre play), which is like a mix of unreal and Unity, but Open Source.

  3. Kollega says:

    Well, crap. A few days ago, I decided to finally make something with Gamemaker to see if I can produce things on my own, doing design, art, and systems myself (because asking me to actually write code for an engine like Unity is like asking a fish to run a marathon in a desert) – but the fact that it was bought by some gambling company probably means that it’s not going to be a sustainable career option.

    • Stopsignal says:

      Me too. I started with Tom Francis’ walkthroughs and now I’m scared. Someone calm me please.

      • lesslucid says:

        Construct, App Game Kit 2, LOVE, Blitz Plus, BlitzMax, Monkey, Multimedia Fusion, &c &c… there are a ton of alternatives to GM, and some of them are even free. It’s likely that the new owners won’t want to mess with a successful formula precisely because there are so many competitors who can swoop in and capitalise on a mis-step by the market leader, but if they do start messing with it, well, jump ship. Anything you learn about making games in GM will be either directly or indirectly helpful in learning a different system. They’re all different but they’re also all the same.

      • darkhog says:

        GDevelop. So much fun with this one!

      • Danley says:

        An interview on Genpoint was what got me into using GameMaker. I didn’t know he had made a tutorial series. Checking that out now.

      • rabbit says:

        Everyone needs to check out Enigma! It’s an open source , free , port-ish of game maker. Using it is almost identical – except it works on Linux too. The scripting language is , for the most part , identical.

        link to enigma-dev.org

        Am not surprised at all about this, really. I had a very bad feeling about how things would progress when GM was first bought by yoyo games.

    • Viroso says:

      I dunno man, don’t make a big deal out of this, specially right now when nothing’s happened to GM yet. Besides, the skills you pick up on GM are transferable and GM is a great way to just get things started.

      I don’t think anything big’s going to change, people tend to make overblown predictions about buy outs like this.

    • Danley says:

      I don’t know. In a weird way buying prefab game dev software seems like it fits right in with the online gambling mentality. Has anyone seen how much RPG Maker has cost over the years? You’re essentially spending £20+ in hopes you’ll start your project, finish your project, or use the software whatsoever. It’s a proposition based on impulsive thinking for a big chunk of people using it.

      That said, I’ve done the impulse thing on a handful of different softwares and GameMaker is the only one that compels me to have a professional workflow. I suspect UE4 and Unity would have done the same, but as others have said GameMaker is so much more approachable from an amateur perspective.

      So long as the licensing and TOS don’t change, I don’t see this as a problem.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    Former CEO Duncan seems adamant on twitter this is a positive development for Game Maker, which suggests the purpose of this deal is to continue on the current path and keep expanding and improving the software, only with more money for R&D and such. In the long term, who knows, could go either way… I am skeptical of the ability of a publicly traded company to put the interests of customers before short-term profit, especially one whose primary business is gambling of all things, but I guess we’ll see. At least it’s not Autodesk.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      “Thx to everyone for kind wishes on the sale of @yoyogames For those of you who are concerned, don’t be. This is all GOOD. #watchthisspace”

      source: link to twitter.com

    • flibbidy says:

      Has a former CEO of a just-sold company ever claimed that the buyout they just arranged was a negative move?

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        True. I’m sure the previous owner of Softimage made similar assurances. Still, given their track record in recent years, actually investing in and significantly improving the software, the statement seems cause for cautious optimism.

    • EhexT says:

      SOE’s CEO/Lead People said the same thing, before many lead developers got kicked out by the new owners a week later.
      “Everything is fine, the new owners will give us more money” is the default response to any buyout and it’s almost always followed my layoffs and cut-downs. I’m sure Westwood was enthusiastic when bought by EA, as was Origin Systems.

      It’s never true.

      • Crabtipus says:

        Pretty much this

      • jrodman says:

        I’d challenge that acquisitions are, in somewhat uncommon cases, positive for the acquired group. For at least a couple of years.

        A few years in though, when the winds change, it’s pretty much always bad.

  5. bad guy says:

    Njjarrg!! I’ve just gotten used to Gamemaker, and started my first big game, after having done some small ones.
    I’ll have to work faster then ;)

    No wonder YOYO was having sales all the time.

  6. DanMan says:

    Mobile cash grabs incoming.

  7. Jim9137 says:

    I got fired because of another PlayTech acquisition, therefore: boo hiss.

  8. Daiz says:

    One more reason to use Construct 2 instead! (Seriously, Construct 2 is amazing and just as powerful as GM, if not more so)

    • lorddon says:

      I second this. I hope this pushes a few of the GameMaker guys over to Construct 2 to give it a try. Such a fast engine and so easy to work with.

  9. Frank says:

    Well, that’s a shame. A win for Unity, I guess; now chubigans, Tom Francis and a whole slew of indie developers will have to move to it.

  10. skyturnedred says:

    From DSOG: “An earnout clause in YoYo Games sale contract suggests PlayTech plan on continuing support to GameMaker for a long time to come: if the GameMaker team hit certain targets then they can earn themselves a further $5.25 million.”

    • Scandalon says:

      That…sounds like a good motivator for the YoYo games folks to do whatever they can to hit that (arbitrary, short-term) sales goal. Well meaning or no, a benchmark like that invites salesmanship, not what’s good for the users, the community, or the long term viability of the product.

  11. Highlandcoo says:

    Hey, I registered just to throw my 2p in here. (So it MUST be worth saying right?) I’ve made 2 games with Gamemaker now, and as most folk have noted gamemaker is pretty mainstream for 2d games.

    I think you don’t go out and BUY gamemaker as a company without wanting to get INTO that business.

    These comments of “oh well in that case tom francis must abandon all hope and code in unity” are frankly hysterical.

    Viva la gamemaker!

    • Frank says:

      I’m not sure I understand you. Sure, it’s mainstream and sure you buy it because you want to make games… but that sounds totally unrelated to the question of whether or not the product is doomed to go unupdated and unsupported in the future (maybe not immediately) or repackaged as a product too expensive or not useful to the would-be developer in the street (which is what I take you to be). Such an adverse outcome seems very, very likely now that YoYo has been bought by a zynga-minded enterprise.

  12. The_Terminator says:

    Based on the (slightly) more informative press release, and having had a quick glance at their recent reports, it looks like they’re probably not planning to do much to Game Maker itself. I think they mostly just saw an opportunity to buy a profitable company that (apparently) fits in quite well with their existing business, as well as taking advantage of YoYo Games’ experience to help them break into the casual games market, in addition to their gambling stuff.

    For people who really care, their annual report apparently comes out on the 26th. That should give a lot more information.

  13. gooneybird says:

    I’ve been working in the igaming business for about 8 years in total and am very familiar with Playtech and their business practices. They are not extremely well regarded by many in the branch due to certain business practices (mostly historical). They have some issues in any regulated gambling jurisdiction that makes a big deal about having “bad actor” clauses in their licensing requirements.

    However, say what you will about Playtech, they are not stupid, and seeing the mess that Unity is making out of this business they see a clear opportunity with gamemaker, namely to become the platform of choice for future igaming development.

    In the igaming (read – real money gambling, online casino’s) business there has been a trend during the last two years which is similar to regular gaming, namely a movement towards mobile games. Most video slots (online casino) games are currently made in Flash, which is as most know problematic with regards to mobile devices.

    Playtech like everyone else has a large number of flash video slots and other flash casino games that they would surely like to be ported to html5 (just like everyone in the business currently, IGT, GTECH, Net Entertainment, Scientific Games, etc).

    There are several options for this, you could write your own html5 engine, or use a product like Unity, which some have used but its licensing model for real money gambling has all but ruled it out as a serious competitor for now.

    Playtech, I’m sure is also looking for an easier way to get these legacy games ported to html5, I imagine they will internalize the product for their own video slot production as well as productifying it for other would be casino games makers. Hell, they acquired the company cheaply, (yoyo clearly has no idea what their product was actually worth due to so completely ignoring this market).

  14. Czrly says:

    This is the beginning of the end for Game Maker, then. It doesn’t matter what these people do or don’t do, a SIGNIFICANT portion of software developers refuse to work for gambling firms on moral grounds. I am reasonably sure that many of the people who built Game Maker, as it exists today, will leave and be replaced – both because of this and because of the nature of acquisitions. Different people equals different product.

    I was recently looking for work in London, as a developer, and at least 50% of the calls I received (and rejected) were for positions at gaming houses. Every single one of those calls began with a disclaimer along the lines of, “I’ll tell you what the position is and you can tell me whether you’d be comfortable working for…” at which point I basically knew what was coming. By the fact that this was the opening line shared by all, I guess that revulsion to the idea of working for leeches is wide spread in my industry.