Two Korean game publishers attempt Valve acquisition

ncsoft and nexon team up for valve acquisition guild wars 2 publisher acquires

More reports of a potential Valve acquisition, this time involving some of Korea’s biggest game companies.

Valve co-founder and digital entertainment industry maverick Gabe Newell aims to keep his company independent or he’ll die trying. Newell said recently that the likelihood that Valve will be sold is slim indeed. He would rather “disintegrate” Valve than see it sell out to a larger technology company or video game publisher. That doesn’t mean that other companies aren’t trying to acquire the Steam studio. Enter Korean video game giants Nexon and NCSoft.

Korean outlet Joonang News (via MCV) claims that Valve met with both companies in Hawaii on Wednesday to discuss a potential merger. The pooled offer for Valve from Nexon and NCSoft is 1 trillion won, or around $893 million.

Nexon and NCSoft would certainly benefit from owning, or at least partnering with, Valve on a large scale. NCSoft sits right behind Blizzard as the world’s leading MMORPG company, publishing and hosting games like the recently released Guild Wars 2 amongst many successes in the genre like City of Heroes, Lineage and others. Nexon, meanwhile, is one of the biggest mobile and online game providers throughout Japan, China, and Korea. It’s currently valued around $5.9 billion. Steam, being the leading digital PC game retail platform in the US, would strengthen those companies’ interests outside Asia.

NCSoft could use the steady income. The publisher is having difficulty maintaining profits now that the MMO industry has moved away from paid subscriptions in favor of free-to-play revenue models. Its second quarter earnings saw revenue fall 12 percent year-on-year to around $130 million. (By comparison, Electronic Arts pulled in $276 million from its PC operation alone over the same period.

Nexon on the other hand is thriving, with revenue earnings in the first quarter of 2012 up 46 percent to around $480 million, and net income up 60 percent to nearly $154 million. It also already enjoys a partnership with Valve, with plans to host Asia’s Counter Strike Online community.

The long and short of it: Yes, it would make sense that these companies want Valve. The purchase price of $893 million rings false though. Electronic Arts reportedly made informal advances on Valve offering a cool $1 billion and Newell and company were unmoved. That was in the past as well. Today, Valve is valued at around $2.5 billion. With the company plotting major expansions in the next few years—branching out into non-gaming apps and hardware—Valve’s business is on the cusp of growing in value even more.

For any Korean readers out there getting pumped up, our apologies: That Team Fortress 2 MMORPG will have to remain a fantasy.