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Sony sells off GSN Games to mobile games giant Scopely

Scopely is snatching up Sony's casual mobile games division for $1 billion.

Scopely and Sony have announced that the Culver City-based mobile games company will be purchasing GSN Games from the broadcast behemoth for the tune of $1 billion. This expensive purchase adds another high-value mobile games company to Scopely's portfolio, and marks the end of Sony's management of the Game Show Network-affiliated developer.

As part of the acquisition deal, Sony will become a minority shareholder in Scopely, according to Sony exec Ravi Ahuja. 

GSN Games has been a unique part of Sony's game revenue for years, thanks to its affiliation with the Sony-owned Game Show Network and its original heyday during the Facebook casual games boom. Along with tie-in games affiliated with game shows Wheel of Fortune and Jeapordy , GSN has made its mark by releasing hugely successful casino titles like GSN Casino and Solitaire TriPeaks.

Diving through the history of GSN Games, and how Sony found itself with a huge casual games revenue stream, is a fun exercise. The company's roots are partly in the Boston-based company WorldWinner, which hosts cash tournaments for digital games, and the Toronto-based online game company Fun Technologies, which purchased WorldWinner in 2006. 

Liberty Media, the former owner of Game Show Network, purchased Fun Technologies in 2007, sunsetting that brand but maintaining WorldWinner as it spun up what we now know as GSN Games.

Liberty Media's stake in the company then took a wild ride through DirectTV and AT&T, with Sony become a larger and larger stakeholder until it took over the company in 2019 (sadly this followed a 6-month burst of layoffs in the 2016-2017 period) 

It's interesting to see Sony part ways with GSN Games even while it makes moves toward expanding the platforms its PlayStation titles can be played on. There's obviously a huge demographic difference between GSN Casino's audience and God of War's audience (the Casino brand might be bigger, for what it's worth), but it appears if Sony was satisfied with trading away that revenue for a mix of cash and financial equity.

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