ReedPOP, the company behind PAX and New York Comic Con, has acquired media giant Gamer Network for an undisclosed sum.
It means that ReedPOP - primarily an events business - now operates a number of major video game media publications, including GamesIndustry.biz, Eurogamer, RockPaperShotgun, USgamer, Outside Xbox, VG247 and Digital Foundry. That's alongside EGX and EGX Rezzed - the UK's biggest video game expos.
Gamer Network CEO Rupert Loman will remain with the company to develop ReedPOP's global game strategy. Simon Maxwell has been promoted from COO to MD of Gamer Network and VP of ReedPOP UK.
No further changes will be made and all Gamer Network staff will retain their positions. The development of Gamer Network's new Brighton office will be completed next month.
ReedPOP is a division of Reed Exhibitions, which is part of RELX Group. ReedPOP organises PAX, New York Comic Con, MCM Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, TwitchCon, plus Comic Cons in Seoul, Paris, India, Australia and Chicago.
"We're delighted to join the ReedPOP group," Loman said in a statement.
"The ambition and strategy that we share means we're extremely excited about what's next. The combination of our online channels and European events with their internationally respected US footprint is a powerful one.
"I'm so proud that we've managed to grow to this point without any external investment and on our own terms. Gamer Network has achieved 18 consecutive years of revenue and audience growth by focusing completely on the needs and passions of our visitors, readers and viewers, and I couldn't be happier to have found a like-minded partner to take the company further. I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed to our incredible journey and I'm really looking forward to seeing where we can take things from here."
ReedPOP's global head Lance Fensterman added: "Bringing ReedPOP and Gamer Network together, PAX and EGX together - these are the kinds of mash ups you dream of. We are beyond excited to dream up new concepts that will blow the minds of fans all over the world."
GamesIndustry.biz managed to ask Fensterman some quick questions about the acquisition, and what it means for PAX and EGX.
How did the deal come about?
I became aware of the Gamer Network business about six or seven years ago through EGX - or Eurogamer Expo as it was known back then. After visiting some of the shows I got to know Rupert, we spent some time together, and I really admired his entrepreneurialism, vision, and passion for the gaming community. And over time I started to learn more about the digital business as well and how it all fits together.
The personal relationship really came before the business relationship, but I had hoped that we might one day find a way to bring these awesome companies together. It took a number of years before the timing was right for both of us, but here we are.
What makes ReedPOP a good fit with Gamer Network's brands?
I think there are a lot of similarities in what we value between our teams; community focus, genuine connection with gamers, teams that are from the community and love serving the community, a culture of respect and fun and innovation. On the ReedPOP side we've got a bit more diversity with different types of events and some more resources at our disposal, and we've also got some needs that Gamer Network can help us with. I think we have enough in common to be a match and enough unique needs to be a great compliment.
Why did you want or need media brands?
We believe there is a relationship to be built with our communities of fans outside the walls of our shows. Gamers are connected 24/7 and we feel we need an online offering to help them connect and provide them with information and entertainment outside of our live events. We further see that as our events grow and some of them are now sold out, with the right expertise we should be able to better bring the fun to the fans who can't be there in person. Lastly, I think there are so many stories to tell about the people who come to our events - from indie devs to cosplayers to folks creating their own clothing lines - that creating platforms for them to tell their stories would be really empowering.
Considering you're events specialists, how do you expect this deal to impact EGX?
We believe we can help amplify the awesomeness that David [Lilley - event director] and Rupert and their team have already created. Bigger, more and faster. We don't want to dramatically alter the shows but we have a lot of experience from the PAX shows that might be useful. We just want to pitch in and help. These shows are absolutely exhausting to create so more hands help.
And what can we expect Eurogamer, GamesIndustry.biz, etc, to do for PAX and Reed's other events?
We think content and content creation is a big piece of it. I think what's exciting, though, is that we are going to engage with the Gamer Network team that have ideas and innovations that we've never thought of and give them the resources to make them happen. There are some great features, brands and digital properties that Gamer Network has at its disposal that are known globally - like Eurogamer, Rezzed, GamesIndustry.biz, RockPaperShotgun, the Leftfield Collection, OutsideXbox and so on. The collaboration possibilities are numerous, and using online communities as a launchpad for live events - and vice versa - is very exciting.
Gamer Network has just announced a Berlin EGX, and you're already developing an event in Paris. So can we anticipate even more events to be rolled out across Europe?
Where there are fans in want of a place to gather, our aim is to build something for them. So yes, I think we would like to do that, but in the right market at the right time. There are a lot of amazing events already out there and our aim is not to add more just for the sake of adding - where we see a need and we think we can meet it, we will seriously explore those opportunities.
How will the relationship work between Gamer Network and other European operations like MCM?
It remains to be seen exactly how it will play out but we clearly believe these brands and teams will be better working together in some capacity. Gamer Network is squarely focused on games rather than pop culture, and the MCM shows would be stronger with more games at them - so there are certainly collaboration opportunities there as well.
Are more acquisitions on the cards?
Never say never, but within four months we've made two exceptional deals to become the largest pop culture and games event organiser in the UK. I think it's time we got to work proving ourselves to our fans and brands and new teams before we take on any more.