Scopely Buys FoxNext Games And Cold Iron Games from Disney

Acquisition brings top-grossing mobile game MARVEL Strike Force to Scopely’s diverse portfolio

Scopely  and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) today announced that Scopely has agreed to acquire FoxNext Games Los Angeles, the game studio behind the blockbuster hit MARVEL Strike Force, and Cold Iron Studios in San Jose from Disney.

“We have been hugely impressed with the incredible game the team at FoxNext Games has built with MARVEL Strike Force and can’t wait to see what more we can do together,” said Tim O’Brien, Chief Revenue Officer at Scopely. “In addition to successfully growing our existing business, we have been bullish on further expanding our portfolio through M&A, and FoxNext Games’ player-first product approach aligns perfectly with our focus on delivering unforgettable game experiences. We are thrilled to combine forces with their world-class team and look forward to a big future together.”The acquisition will add another top-grossing game to Scopely’s live service portfolio, expand its in-development pipeline, and bring a highly experienced team to Scopely’s business.

MARVEL Strike Force reached $150 million in revenue for 2019

FoxNext Games Los Angeles released its debut title MARVEL Strike Force in March 2018 and it has become one of the top mobile games on iOS and Android, bringing in more than $150 million in its first year. The studio is also developing Avatar: Pandora Rising, a massively multiplayer strategy game based on James Cameron’s Avatar. The acquisition does not include the separate portfolio of Fox IP licensed games titles, which will continue to be a part of Disney’s licensed games business. Disney acquired the FoxNext Games vertical game studios and licensed games titles in its 2019 acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

“I’m extremely proud of what our talented team at FoxNext Games has built and accomplished in just a few years, and look forward to joining forces with the impressive team at Scopely, who have a well-deserved reputation as one of the preeminent companies in the free-to-play games arena,” said Aaron Loeb, FoxNext Games President. Added Amir Rahimi, FoxNext Games Senior Vice President & General Manager: “Both FoxNext Games and Scopely are committed to bringing beloved worlds to life through interactive gaming experiences designed to be played for years to come, and we believe this shared focus, coupled with our businesses’ unique strengths and Scopely’s expertise across multiple game genres, will lead to even greater success in the future.” Upon completion of the transaction, Loeb will join Scopely in a newly created executive role and Rahimi will lead the FoxNext Games Los Angeles studio within Scopely as President, Games.

The acquisition agreement follows a number of recent milestones for Scopely including the achievement of more than $1 billion in lifetime revenue last summer, the acquisition of DIGIT Game Studios and global expansion across Europe, Asia and North America.

LionTree Advisors is acting as financial advisor to Disney, with Moelis & Company acting as financial advisor to Scopely.

About Scopely

Scopely is a global interactive entertainment and mobile games company, home to many top-grossing, award-winning franchises including Star Trek™ Fleet Command, Looney Tunes™ World of Mayhem, WWE Champions, The Walking Dead: Road To Survival™, YAHTZEE® With Buddies and Wheel of Fortune®: Free Play, among others. Scopely creates, publishes and live operates immersive games that empower a directed-by-consumer experience. Founded in 2011, Scopely is fueled by a world-class team and a proprietary technology platform that supports one of the most diversified portfolios in the West. Recognized in Fast Company’s ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ and #2 on Deloitte’s ‘Technology Fast 500’ as one of the fastest-growing companies in North America, Scopely has achieved more than $1 billion in lifetime revenue by creating long-lasting game experiences. Scopely has global operations in Los Angeles, Barcelona, Boulder, Dublin (DIGIT Games Studios), London and Tokyo, with additional studios in seven countries across four continents. For more information, visit .

 

 

 

Daybreak Games Restructures To Form Three New Studios 

Three New Studios: Dimensional Ink Games, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games To Focus on Signature Games and Genres from MMORPG to FPS and Superhero Titles

Daybreak Games announced its “Franchise First” initiative in the form of a new business structure that establishes three new individual creative franchise studios:

      Dimensional Ink Games

      Darkpaw Games

      Rogue Planet Games

 

Building on the success of the teams that introduced genre-defining games and franchises including DC Universe Online, EverQuest and PlanetSide, this business model is the result of a long-term strategy designed to amplify the existing franchises while enabling each studio to further foster its unique identity, community and culture.

By allowing the identities of each of these studios to thrive under their individual studios, each team will have the flexibility to continue their work developing current and upcoming games, recruiting new talent and building upon the legacy of their respective franchises.

Dimensional Ink Games

Dimensional Ink Games based in Austin, Texas develops and operates DC Universe Online, the DC Super Hero-based MMORPG still played by millions across PC and consoles. Dimensional Ink will be led by Jack Emmert, who worked on  City of HeroesStar Trek Online, and Neverwinter. The studio will continue to support DCUO while developing its next high-profile action MMO project starting in 2020.

“Crafting iconic MMORPG experiences has always been Daybreak’s lifeblood,” said Emmert. “We intend to continue that legacy and grow Dimensional Ink, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games into the future. Whether it’s DC Universe Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2 or our future projects, we’ll be giving players their ideal fantasy game experiences for years to come.”

Darkpaw Games

Darkpaw Games will be based in San Diego, California and will be focusing on EverQuest, one of the most legendary MMORPG IPs recognized worldwide. Holly Longdale will continue to lead the studio as its Executive Producer. Darkpaw’s mission is to continue to expand upon the unique and amazing fantasy adventure that is EverQuest and EverQuest II and develop the next innovation for the franchise.

The following is an interview with Holly discussion Episode 7 of the Everquest Show, from October 2019:

Rogue Planet Games

Rogue Planet Games will also be based in San Diego, and will focus on the massively multiplayer first-person shooter genre with PlanetSide and Planetside 2, while working on new and experiences in the space under Executive Producer Andy Sites who wrote a welcome letter on the site. The team is focused on developing its next genre-defining experience for fans of shooters under its new banner.

 

Rogue Games Enters Publishing Agreement with Super Evil Megacorp for Vainglory

Game publisher, Rogue Games has entered into an agreement with the creator of Vainglory, Super Evil Megacorp to become its publisher.

Vainglory is the leading cross-platform MOBA, played by over 45 million gamers worldwide, which helped pioneer mobile esports. Since its launch five years ago, Vainglory continues to attract new players across iOS, Android, Mac, and PC, to its highly engaged community.
“We’re longtime fans of Super Evil and Vainglory, so we’re honored to be entrusted with the game and eager to get started,” said Mike DeLaet, Founder & CEO of Rogue Games. “Many people on the team have worked on MOBAs or games-as-service titles before and we appreciate how important the community is to the game itself. We’re working very closely with Super Evil and bringing along the current community managers to make the transition as smooth as possible and safeguard the quality of the Vainglory experience.”
Following a transition period working alongside the Super Evil team, Rogue Games will take over the publishing and all content creation of the game, maintaining the current content cadence and ensuring a seamless experience for Vainglory players. This transition will allow the ambitious game’s continuous evolution with new content while enabling Super Evil Megacorp to focus on new games and technology it is bringing to market.
“Our first priority is making sure that Vainglory continues to be a great experience, with no disruption for our players who have supported us and the game since its inception,” said Kristian Segerstrale, CEO of Super Evil Megacorp. “As we write a new chapter for our studio at Super Evil, we wanted to make sure that Vainglory was in the right hands before we refocus our team on our new game. Our partners are experienced, passionate and dedicated to delivering a great game, and we can’t wait to watch the game grow even more with the fresh ideas and great service Rogue will bring.”

The Rogue Games – Super Evil MegaCorp Vainglory Transition Team

Coming from flagship companies including Kabam, Glu, Apple, IGN, Activision, Electronic Arts, Disney, and NBC Universal, Rogue Games is comprised of industry veterans with deep expertise in game development and publishing across multiple platforms. In just over 18 months since its formation, the company signed 70 games and has released several acclaimed titles such as Wild Life: Puzzle Story, Chaos Battle League, Super Impossible Road, and Hexaflip. Vainglory represents Rogue Games’ first title published for PC.
Vainglory is currently available in the App StoreGoogle Play, Samsung Galaxy Apps, Amazon Appstore, and on Steam. For more information about Vainglory, please visit http://www.vainglorygame.com/ 
About Vainglory
Super Evil Megacorp’s Vainglory is the leading cross-platform online battle arena (MOBA) for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android-powered devices. Powered by Super Evil’s proprietary E.V.I.L. cross-platform game engine, and winner of several Game of the Year and Editor’s Choice awards, Vainglory has been played by over 45 million players, and features superior gameplay and strategic depth, the most accurate and responsive controls and unparalleled graphics at up to 120 frames per second across a broad range of devices. For more information about Vainglory, please visit http://www.vainglorygame.com/
About Super Evil Megacorp
Super Evil Megacorp is a multi-award-winning creator of category-defining multiplayer experiences for the touchscreen generation, committed to building the very best shared gameplay moments through deep technical and design excellence. Super Evil is home to leading game industry talent previously at companies such as Riot Games, Blizzard, Rockstar Games, and Insomniac. We believe that gamers on every device deserve to play together in beautiful, responsive and deep AAA experiences, whichever their native platform or control mechanism.
Built on the proprietary cross-platform next-gen E.V.I.L. game engine, the first title, Vainglory, is the leading cross-platform MOBA, has been played by over 45 Million players and was an early mobile esports pioneer. Super Evil investors include Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Index Ventures, Signia Venture Partners, Initial Capital and more. Super Evil Megacorp is based in San Mateo, California. For more information, visit superevilmegacorp.com.
About Rogue Games, Inc.
Rogue Games is a leading games publisher. Founded in 2017, Rogue Games Inc. is headquartered in Calabasas, CA with offices in San Francisco. Rogue’s diverse portfolio features several award-winning titles including Wild Life: Puzzle Story, Glitch Dash, Chaos Battle League, Oz: Broken Kingdom, BeSwitched! Match 3, Super Impossible Road, Hexaflip, and many more, all available worldwide on various platforms including the App Store and Google Play.

 

Blade Announces $33 Million In Funding For Its Cloud Gaming Platform

Blade announced the company has raised $33 million in a Series B round  to expand its cloud gaming service Shadow. Based in Paris, with offices in Mountain View, California, the company was founded in 2015, and has over 200 employees.

To date Blade has now raised over $104 million. Investors from this round and previous investors include Serena Capital, Western Digital, Charter Communications, Financiere Saint James, 2CRSi and multiple individual investors. In addition to the funding, Shadow is also bringing on a new CEO, Jérôme Arnaud to help build out the company’s international presense in both consumer and professional markets. 

Shadow is the company’s first product, which launched back in January 2018 and currently has 70,000 subscribers globally all paying $35 a month.  As part of the lastest announcement the company has dropped their subscription prices in half with the hopes of getting some momentum before Google’s November 19 launch of  Stadia. 

 

The new subscription service comes in three different levels, rather than the one subscription price. It is currently available in the UK, France, Germany and Luxembourg (Pricing for the US has not yet been announced):

Boost – at £12.99 per month (£14.99 without commitment), this highly accessible offer allows subscribers to play all the latest games in Full HD from any device.

Ultra – at £24.99 per month (£29.99 without commitment), gamers are offered the possibility to play with superior graphic performance(s) in 4K, up to 144 FPS in Full HD with ray tracing compatibility. This offer provides the power of a GeForce RTX 2080 graphics card, but also the power of a better processor, more RAM and more storage.

Infinite – at £39.99 per month (£49.99 without commitment), Infinite grants the most demanding gamers, streamers and creators direct access to the “best available” on the market: a dream computer including ray tracing combined with the top graphics card at the moment (RTX Titan), and 1TB of storage. With this dream line-up, users will be able to play all the latest games in 4K.

Additional storage can be purchased. But what makes this unique is from other cloud gaming solutions is that Shadow provides a full Windows 10 PC which means you can run any software you want, from AAA games, to enterprise work in Solidworks for CAD, or for content creation with Photoshop and video editing solutions.

“Making stupid objects very smart” is one of the philosophies of Shadow, and as part of that mantra they have also announced a redesign of their interface that enables any PC to adapt with a living room display. The TV version is compatible with Smart TV and Android and will be soon extend to smartphones and tablets, currently in beta on Android and iOS. Shadow has also already demoed live streaming to VR, and is currently working to bring that to consumers. 

Shadow has also partnered with OVHcloud, a Data Service Provider who will oversee infrastructure and data center rollout.  Other key partners include Nvidia, Intel, Microsoft, 2CRSi and Ericsson.

 

What We Think

Shadow is the first of several products coming from Blade, and the fact they they have full support of Windows 10 is a good starting point as it enables them to also focus not only on gaming but also high-end visualization and enterprise industries like CAD that will help it draw out further optimizations.

It has to be said though, they are up against some behemoth competition with the likes of Google, Microsoft and Sony. What Shadow lacks in endless funds, they make up for in their ability to be more nimble and take advantage of key opportunities.

With Stadia’s launch on November 19th, and news soon coming from both Microsoft and Sony, we expect the cloud gaming sector to heat up now. While M2 Insights doesn’t predict meteoric growth for the first few years, we do believe this is the start of what will be a slow, steady change in content creation, content delivery are the user experience.

If you want to hear more, join us at the The International Future Computing Summit, taking place at the Computer History Museum, November 5th – 6th where Blade will be speaking.

The conference is focused on client-to-cloud and edge computing with discussions centered around games, visual effects, education, and enterprise. A few of the companies we’ve got speaking include: Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Dell, Lenovo, Unity, Epic, The Foundry, Cintoo, Game Tech at Amazon Web Services, Hatch Entertainment, ShadowTech, MagicLeap, AccelByte, Ultra, Adshir, Xilinx, Ericsson, Looking Glass Factory, Poco Loco Amusements, VentureBeat, M2 Insights, Jon Peddie Research, TIRIAS Research, Stanford University, Intel Capital, Boost VC, Alsop Louie Ventures, The Venture Reality Fund, with additional speakers still being added. 

Unity Technologies Acquires ChilliConnect

ChilliConnect’s cloud-based toolkit to provide live game management services for building and managing connected games

Unity Technologies, announced the acquisition of ChilliConnect. With the addition of ChilliConnect to Unity Technologies, developers will benefit from easier, better integrated access to live operations and backend game management services to build and manage connected games.

“By joining Unity, we are enhancing that choice for so many more developers worldwide. Our services will remain engine agnostic, but we’re excited to provide Unity developers with an easier path to successful.

“Creating games on Unity is a great first step, but developer teams of all sizes are then faced with the challenge of managing and maintaining those games, which can be very complicated and costly,” said Luc Barthelet, Vice President and General Manager, Cloud Services, Unity Technologies. “ChilliConnect is the connecting piece for Unity developers, providing the essential LiveOps and backend services needed to successfully operate a connected game. Having ChilliConnect onboard closes the loop for developers to create, operate and monetize their game with Unity and we’re very excited to have them as part of the team.”

ChilliConnect provides developers with cloud-based game services to enable backend operations at scale, allowing developers to add online game features and run LiveOps without needing to manage their own server infrastructure. ChilliConnect’s services, and the offerings from Unity’s other recent acquisition deltaDNA, round out Unity’s full LiveOps solution for building and operating connected games. With these acquisitions, developers can now access cost-effective, customizable live game solutions, regardless of individual needs.

“Much like Unity, we believe in democratizing game development and management regardless of studio size, engine technology or commercial aspirations. We want developers to have a choice,” said Paul Farley, Chief Executive Officer, ChilliConnect. “By joining Unity, we are enhancing that choice for so many more developers worldwide. Our services will remain engine agnostic, but we’re excited to provide Unity developers with an easier path to successful connected game operation.”

Unity exists to empower the success of the world’s creators with the most accessible and powerful real-time 3D development and monetization platform. Games and experiences made with Unity have reached more than 3 billion devices worldwide this year and were installed more than 34 billion times in the last 12 months.

Playable Worlds Raises $2.7M, led by Raph Koster

Playable Worlds, an online game company created to change the way immersive worlds work, announced today it has raised $2.7 million in seed funding, led by BITKRAFT Esports Ventures with participation from 1UP Ventures and several game industry angel investors. The company is led by a distinguished team of developers with many decades of collective online game experience from Disney, Marvel, Sony Online Entertainment, and venture-backed startups.

Raph Koster, CEO and Founder of Playable Worlds, is the award-winning lead designer of Ultima Online and creative director of Star Wars Galaxies, a former executive at Sony Online Entertainment and Disney, and founder of Metaplace. Alongside Raph, Playable Worlds has assembled a deep talent bench of veterans that includes former senior technical leader at Amazon and Disney, Dorian Ouer, as Chief Technology Officer; veteran comic book illustrator for Marvel and DC and award-winning art director for MMOs, Mat Broome, as Studio Art Director; industry expert with experience shipping and leading live operations for web, console, and mobile games, Brian Crowder, as Lead Server Engineer; and lead designer of more than 30 commercially published games, Greg Costikyan, as Lead Game Designer. Additionally, co-founder Eric Goldberg is head of business, strategy, and corporate development for Playable Worlds and has served as a strategic advisor or board member for over 60 companies including Playdom, PlaySpan and Pixelberry.

Playable Worlds is building an online world where a broad range of players can find a home, whether their preferred playstyle is exploring, adventuring, socializing, crafting, or player versus player combat. These diverse communities can each play the game in their own way, or cross over with one another, delivering diverse play experience and enriching the world. Bringing together proven features from some of the world’s most popular games in a unique combination that hasn’t been seen before, the team is developing a broadly appealing and novel experience that leverages modern cloud architecture, simulation, and AI. The funding will be used to scale the expert team and accelerate product development.

“I’m incredibly excited to bring a new world to players,” said Raph Koster. “Technology has caught up to the visions we always had of alternate worlds where entire societies can form. It’s time for that dream to be fulfilled.”

“We are honored to work with Raph Koster and the entire Playable Worlds team as they redefine MMOs with new levels of community interaction synonymous with streaming culture,” said Scott Rupp, a partner with BITKRAFT Esports Ventures. “Playable Worlds is building on Raph’s incredible heritage of MMO design innovation to create a completely new experience that will push the boundaries of persistent game worlds and social competitive play.”

What We Think

Raph Koster is one of the most well respected game designers in the industry. With over 25 years of experience, Koster is known as the lead designer on Ultima Online and the Everquest series for Sony Online Entertainment. He is also the author of “Theory of Fun For Game Design”, a must read for any game designer.

Playable Worlds has been in stealth mode since early 2018, and with a headcount of 10 people will be officially based the San Marcos, California. The company isn’t planning to have much to show for a few years, but the idea of a sandbox solution that accelerates the creation of a new kind of MMORPG sounds intriguing, particularly given it’s support of use of cloud, AI and real-time technologies.

Back in 2007 Raph launched Metaplace, an ambitious 3D virtual world platform which was eventually acquired by Playdom, and then later sold to Disney as part of their acquistion of Playdom. Now ten years later, his vision of an next-generation sandbox platform seems extremely fitting.

Games-as-a-service (GaaS) seems to be the current buzzword these days, with more and more companies looking to adopt cloud solutions to develop and distribute their games. Over the past few years Raph has done quite a bit of research on retention and wrote an insightful article on What Drives Retention, in which he correctly states: “GaaS is a business strategy, and F2P is a revenue model“.

Implementing a cloud solution will be necessary for game developers and publishers to compete moving forward. And with cloud-gaming platforms such as Google’s Stadia, Microsoft xProject, ShadowTech’s Blade, and more all coming on line, it will mean developers will have to adjust their business strategies sooner than later. 

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Tencent to acquire 29% of game developer and publisher Funcom

Tencent will acquire 29% of the shares in the independent game developer and publisher Funcom

Tencent, a leading Internet company with a strong online games operation, entered into a share purchase agreement to acquire 29% of the shares in Funcom, the independent developer and publisher of games such as Conan Exiles, The Secret World, and Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. The acquisition makes Tencent the largest shareholder in Funcom. Funcom is listed as Funcom SE on the Oslo Stock Exchange (OSE: Funcom).

Tencent has agreed to acquire all shares belonging to the Norway-based KGJ Capital AS, which is currently the largest shareholder in Funcom.

For more than a decade, Funcom has successfully launched major multiplayer titles including Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, The Secret World, and most recently Conan Exiles. Both 2017 and 2018 were the most profitable years in Funcom’s history.

Funcom announced recently that the company has acquired the exclusive rights to develop and publish PC and console games based on the DUNE IP for the next six years. The company is already working on an open world sandbox game set in the DUNE universe and is working closely with Legendary Entertainment who will be releasing a new DUNE feature film in December 2020 directed by Denis Villeneuve.

“We are very pleased to see Tencent come in as the largest shareholder of Funcom,” says Funcom CEO Rui Casais. “Tencent has a reputation for being a responsible long-term investor, and for its renowned operational capabilities in online games.The insight, experience, and knowledge that Tencent will bring is of great value to us and we look forward to working closely with them as we continue to develop great games and build a successful future for Funcom.”

Tencent ranks top in terms of online games revenue globally and is a shareholder in many of the world’s leading gaming companies such as Riot Games, Epic, Supercell, Ubisoft, Paradox, Frontier and Miniclip.

For more information about Funcom, please visit www.funcom.com. For more information about Tencent, please visit www.tencent.com.