Mergers and acquisitions in the video game industry have hit a record high of $3.6 billion in the first three quarters of 2012, according to a report by the investment bank Digi-Capital.

It also reveals that there have been 71 transactions in this particular market, with an average value of $51 million each. The $3.6 billion figure is up 105 percent from that recorded the year before, which itself broke records by reaching $3.4 billion for all four quarters.

However, last year there were 113 mergers and acquisitions in total, worth an average of $30 million each. The report by Digi-Capital shows that while the amount of money changing hands has never been higher – 40 percent higher on average – the actual number of business deals has in fact fallen by 16 percent.

Digi-Capital’s findings reveal that the rise in mergers and transactions has emerged mostly from video game developers and publishers specialising in massively multiplayer online (MMO) titles, games built specifically for mobile platforms and those tailored towards the social or casual demographic.

The findings aren’t surprising, given the number of video game studios which have closed this year while they were still developing for traditional home or handheld consoles. Radical Entertainment, the team behind such games as Prototype 2 and Simpsons: Hit and Run, as well as Sony Liverpool, one of the UK’s oldest studios behind the popular Wipeout series, are just two of the high-profile casualties.

On the flipside, in the last four weeks we’re seen NEXON, the company behind the side-scrolling MMO MapleStory acquire Japanese games giant Gloops for $468.6 million, as well as telecom group Singtel grab a 35.5 percent stake in The Mobile Gamer. By taking both these two trends into account it’s clear where the current growth in the industry is and will be coming from.

The report reads:

“Our largest Chinese, Japanese and South Korean clients are particularly focused on mergers and acquisitions and investment in mobile-social, free-to-play MMO and middleware to leverage their strengths both domestically and internationally.”

Digi-Capital’s report also points to a fall in the amount of new investment being introduced into the video game industry.

Last year hit a record-high, with 152 transactions giving a total of $2 billion to aspiring video game developers and publishers. The average transaction value, roughly $13 million, was also seen as a significant milestone.

However, so far in the first three quarters of 2012 there have been only 130 transactions generating a combined total of $591 million. While there are still another three months to account for, an average investment amount of $4.5 million shows an important drop in the amount of funding being pumped into new and emerging talent.

Digi-Capital says this is simply a return to the industry’s normal levels of investment:

“Should this trend persist, games investment for 2012 might return to the still respectable levels of 2010 (the second highest year).”

Image Credit: The Next Web