EBITDA positive, stable and predictable performance continues in the first half – it’s now time for revenue growth
The first half of 2021 gives us an opportunity to showcase how our strategic focus areas and the operating initiatives we put in place, have improved our productivity as well as capabilities to scale our business and increase our revenue significantly. We remain confident in our outlook for the full year, reaching at least EUR 40 (27 in 2020) million in revenues and EBITDA positive with a global release of Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales and Blade
Runner: Rogue starting in the third quarter of 2021.
Our performance continued both predictable and stable. We have remained EBITDA positive since the first quarter of 2020, while significantly increasing our investments in R&D. In March 2021, we took steps to support our future growth through a successful direct share issue to domestic and international institutional investors in order to enter into new partnerships, sign new intellectual property licenses, finance the development of new games and to support the implementation of the Company’s existing strategy. During the first half we executed on that promise and doubled our investment to EUR 3.6 (1.7) million in R&D, while increasing our intangible assets by EUR 3.6 million. As of June 30, 2021 all intangible assets, including development expenses and license rights, related to The Walking Dead franchise have been fully amortized. Our current intangible asset value of EUR 14.6 (11.0) million is solely related to our technology, upcoming products and licenses related to them.
Our efficiency with a unified infrastructure is starting to show. We initiated streamlining of operations in 2019, with a commitment to improve profitability permanently and not exceed 117 employees. Two years later, in the first half of 2021 alone, we have tested more than 16 different game concepts, and by Q4 we will have three teams working under our New Games umbrella. We remain EBITDA profitable with now almost 60% of our staff working on upcoming games, while our headcount has merely increased from 108 to 112 (since H1 2019). We have delivered on our promise.
With the gaming sector flourishing during COVID-19, many entertainment companies have become very eager to penetrate the games market and forge powerful collaborations to extract additional value from their IPs. Our Strategic Partnerships and outstanding reputation in the licensed games field put us at the top of the list of potential partners, allowing us to continue working with the most renowned licenses.
As expected, our Walking Dead franchise continues strong: six-year-old No Man’s Land and three-year-old Our World are showing longevity and continued profitability. As a result of this, in January June 2021 our revenue was EUR 12.3 (14.4) million. Our Publishing Operations’ profitability, i.e. the profitability of published games, continued with a permanently improved EBITDA margin at 24% (24%), and was EUR 3.0 (3.4) million. Our achieved relative profitability is excellent to build on and we see it as solid proof that despite paid user acquisition being increasingly challenging, we find ourselves well-suited to succeed in the new reality owing to our licensed games strategy and active brand portfolio management.
We talk a lot about our continued commitment to invest in players first and that our games are a place where players are protected from toxic behaviors such as inappropriate language, bullying, or discrimination. This starts in the workplace, in the culture we are committed to building at Next Games, of applying zero tolerance to discrimination. In the midst of continued and multiple concerning revelations within the games industry on workplace discrimination, I am proud that we have deepened our focus on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. Our board, and management are diverse in respect of gender, ethnicity and background, and we have also made key hires that lead our DIB group efforts internally. We already have safeguards in place so employees can confidentially reach out for help both within and outside the Company, and we are introducing additional ones. Ultimately our strategy is dependent on intangible assets. Our people create what we bring to our players, and their well-being, freedom of expression as well as feeling of safety is our most valuable equity and also our main focus.
Next Games is committed to a 50:50 gender balance by 2030, and thus to working towards more women and non-binary into the industry. We believe this will in the long term fix the issues we’re currently witnessing in the industry. We aim to inspire other companies to follow in our footsteps for a more inclusive and diverse game industry in Finland and globally. We especially encourage open dialogue and a commitment to improve. We need to build a better industry together.
I am extremely thankful to our players for their continued commitment, our team for their relentless focus on success, and our investors for their unwavering support.
We are all looking forward to the new, exciting games to come!