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GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 44

Highlights

Deloitte: Online entertainment and games prosper as most consumers still don’t go out (link)

  • As a result of the pandemic, 84% of users are spending more time with online entertainment, according to Deloitte’s 15th annual “Digital Media Trends” survey
  • 82% of US consumers say they are concerned about COVID-19 variants, keeping people indoors and online more when compared to before the pandemic
  • 65% of respondents are frequent gamers, playing at least once a week across devices including smartphones, consoles, tablets, portable gaming devices, and computers. On average, frequent gamers play for around 12 hours a week

Microsoft Xbox chief sees game-buying spree continuing (link)

  • Phil Spencer said that he doesn’t have a timeline or quota for new acquisitions, but that Xbox is taking a long-term approach to add teams to its gaming portfolio
  • Additionally, he said the cloud option is improving Xbox’s ability to enter new markets where users often can’t afford expensive gaming consoles, adding that Xbox launched a cloud gaming option in Brazil in recent weeks
  • The Xbox chief believes Microsoft’s global infrastructure of Azure cloud data centers lets Xbox deliver a better gaming experience

Xbox Game Pass saw 38% growth in total subscribers in fiscal year 2021 (link)

  • In the fiscal year 2020, Xbox Game Pass grew 86%, which outpaced the internal target of 71%. The 2021 fiscal year growth metric was 38% while the internal target was 48%
  • Subscriber growth is expected to pick up in the holiday season with the exclusive releases of Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 to the Xbox platform

Apple revises its App Store Guidelines to permit developers to contact customers about other payment methods (link)

  • Developers are now allowed to communicate with their customers about other payment methods available outside their app
  • Specifically, Apple deleted a clause from guideline 3.1.3 that had previously said developers were not permitted to use information obtained within their app to target individual users outside of the app to use purchasing methods other than Apple’s own in-app purchases
  • The old rule had stated this would include sending out emails to the address on file obtained when the customer signed up for the app. Under the revised guidelines, developers are no longer barred from those sorts of communications
  • The changes don’t go so far as to allow alternative payment systems to be embedded directly in their apps, with the outcome of Apple’s appeal in the Epic v. Apple case yet to be resolved

Google lowers Play Store fees from 30% to 15% for subscriptions (link)

  • Google is lowering the fees on the Play Store from 30% to 15% for some developers. This fee reduction applies to revenue made through subscriptions and will be effective January 1, 2022
  • In addition to the above, Google announced that ebook and music streaming apps would be eligible for a service fee as low as 10%

Chris Akhavan joins blockchain gaming platform Forte (link)
Forte is a portfolio company of Griffin Gaming Partners

  • Chris joins Forte, which now has more than 10M wallets across the network of partners. The Company has also processed more than $1B in sales across Forte-powered games and apps and partners with 30-plus developers integrating over 100M MAUs
  • Chris will become the Chief Business Officer at Forte, which is making an end-to-end blockchain technology platform for games and other content
  • He will be primarily responsible for partnerships with game developers and other content creators

Path to Metaverse Expected to Go Through Videogames (link)

  • The global video gaming industry is expected to reach $221B in 2025, more than doubling in size from just eight years earlier
  • The global audience for esports is expected to surpass 700M viewers by 2025. The projected viewers for 2021 is 557M

M&A and Capital Raises

Digital Platform FaZe Clan Inks $1 Billion SPAC Deal to Go Public (link)

  • FaZe Clan is merging with the SPAC B. Riley Principal 150 Merger Corp., a blank-check company backed by B. Riley Financial Inc
  • As part of the SPAC deal, FaZe Clan is raising $120M through a PIPE associated with the merger. The Company expects revenue of approximately $50M this year and for it to grow rapidly in years ahead
  • FaZe Clan is a leading online gaming company and brand targeting millennials and Gen Z consumers. The Company has a global reach to a community of over 350M people across different social media platforms

Galaxy Interactive raises $325M to invest in games, finance, and tech (link)

  • A division of Galaxy Digital Holdings, the New York-based fund will now have more than $650M combined assets under management
  • Galaxy Interactive’s existing portfolio of over 60 interactive companies, includes Mythical Games, Genvid, Immutable, GreenPark, Current, StockX, and Bad Robot Games, among others
  • More than 70 new limited partners participated in the fund, including institutional investors, endowments, strategic investors, and family offices

Patron raises $90M to invest in gaming seed rounds (link)

  • Patron is unveiling itself as a new venture capital fund with $90M to invest in games and game technology
  • The Company will invest in seed-stage rounds, meaning it aims to be the first external capital invested into a startup. Patron will invest globally and lead or co-lead investments at the seed stage
  • Investors include Unity CEO John Riccitiello, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill, with additional participation from half-dozen partners from Andreessen Horowitz

Animoca Brands raises $65M at $2.2B valuation from Ubisoft and others (link)

  • Animoca Brands has raised a new round of funding — the third time since May — and this time the company has raised up to $65M at a $2.2B valuation, further developing the blockchain gaming scene
  • The Company will use proceeds to further develop blockchain in gaming and to fulfill its larger ambition of helping build an open metaverse
  • Investors include Ubisoft, which has been supporting blockchain startups in its accelerator, with additional participation from Liberty City Ventures, Sequoia China, Dragonfly Capital, Com2Us, Kingsway Capital, 10T, and other institutional and individual investors

GreenPark Sports raises $31M ahead of NFT drop (link)

  • GreenPark is a mobile platform that marries the communities of sports fans and esports fans. This investment comes just as GreenPark is preparing its first NFT drop
  • GreenPark will use the proceeds to invest in the further development of their product
  • Terraform Capital led the round, with additional participation from existing investors Galaxy Interactive, Sapphire Sport, SignalFire, and ADvantage

Concept Art House raises $25M to create NFT art and games (link)

  • Concept Art House is supplying the art that those parties use to sell collectibles to fans and gamers. For instance, Concept Art House teamed up with Gala Labs to create the NFT drop celebrating the 30th anniversary of Sin City by Frank Miller
  • The Company will use the proceeds to add to its team, look at opportunistic acquisitions, build an NFT library, and secure larger licensing deals
  • The investors include Dapper Labs, Animoca Brands, Anthos, Appworks, Blockchain Coinvestors, Fabric VC, Hashkey, Liberty City Ventures, One Football, and other institutional and individual investors

Superplastic raises $20M (link)

  • Superplastic has raised $20M to build a global entertainment brand in the age of NFTs, virtual characters, and viral videos
  • The Company will use the proceeds to expand its virtual ecosystem that fans can interact with through NFTs, animated films, retail experiences, and more
  • Investors in the round include Google Ventures, Index Ventures, Founders Fund, Craft Ventures, Galaxy Digital, Mantis VC/The Chainsmokers, Kakao Entertainment, and other institutional and individual investors

Kazoo Games raises $12M for mobile game development (link)

  • Kazoo Games will use the proceeds to develop casual and midcore games for mobile devices
  • The Company plans to double its headcount from 15 to 30 thanks to the investment
  • Online game developer and publisher Garena led the $12M round of investment

Piepacker raises $12M in funding round led by Lego Ventures (link)

  • Piepacker is a social platform that allows users to play retro games together on their web browsers. The platform opened in 2020 in a beta and has about 500k users
  • The Company will use the proceeds to expand into more territories and platforms
  • Lego Ventures led the $12M round of investment

China’s NetEase buys No More Heroes maker Grasshopper Manufacture (link)

  • Grasshopper Manufacture is the maker of action-adventure games such as No More Heroes, Killer7, and Lollipop Chainsaw
  • Grasshopper Manufacture will target making three high-quality games in the next decade as it believes NetEase’s existing infrastructure will could help in the development of upcoming games

Focus Home Interactive acquires partner studio Douze Dixièmes (link)

  • France-based Douze Dixièmes teamed up with Focus Home last year to release 3D puzzle-platformer Shady Part of Me
  • The acquisition signals Focus Home’s focus on supporting the French video game scene

CD Projekt acquires developer The Molasses Flood (link)

  • The Molasses Flood, founded in 2014, is best known for its survival titles, including 2016’s The Flame in the Flood, and Drake Hollow, released in 2020
  • The studio will work closely with the Cyberpunk maker, but will retain its current identity and will continue to work independently on its own upcoming project
  • CD Projekt still plans to work on multiple AAA games and expansions simultaneously in the coming year


Other

Unity Gaming Services launches for easier cross-platform multiplayer development (link)

  • Unity announced today it’s launching Unity Gaming Services, a new solution for game developers that aims to facilitate the launch and sustainability of cross-platform multiplayer titles
  • Unity Gaming Services (UGS) will unify several of Unity’s existing Operate Solutions and introduce some new tools as well. Among other tools, UGS includes cloud diagnostics, analytics, and multi-environment identifiers
  • UGS offers support for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch, Playstation, Windows, and Xbox

Roblox unveils electronic music festival in the metaverse (link)

  • Roblox has partnered with music event promoter Insomniac to create electronic music festivals for its platform
  • The companies plan to create the “world’s largest dance music festival, Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), to the metaverse.”
  • World Party, EDC Las Vegas 2021 will become the first music festival to be held on Roblox. Fans can join the festival in the metaverse on October 23rd through October 25th, with a virtual pre-show event airing October 22nd

Xbox is working with developer Mainframe on cloud MMO with scaling complexity (link)

  • Finnish studio Mainframe is working on a cloud-native MMO adventure for Xbox Game Studios
  • Cloud-native game means that players can access the same game through any device. Players would perform different game tasks, in terms of complexity, in different devices

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — Definitive Edition will debut on November 11 (link)

  • The games will be launching on the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Rockstar Launcher. A mobile release is set for the first half of 2022
  • Each game in the trilogy is being enhanced for the new generation. It was adapted to modern platforms by Grove Street Games using Unreal Engine

Epic Games partners with indie studios Eyes Out and Spry Fox (link)

  • Epic Games announced it’ll be partnering with the two indie studios, Eyes Out and Spry Fox, and will publish their upcoming games
  • Eyes Out is reportedly working on a multiplatform single-player horror game, first funded by an Epic Mega Grant
  • Spry Fox, the creators of life sim Cozy Grove, is working on an unannounced game that will be a non-violent multiplayer title

Twitch viewership grows 20% YoY for September (link)

  • Users watched 1.7B hours of video on Twitch in September, according to StreamElements analytics partner Rainmaker.gg
  • Meanwhile, Facebook Gaming viewership increased 50% YoY as it reached over 500M hours throughout September
  • On Twitch, Grand Theft Auto 5 was the most-watched game for the month at 142M hours. Additionally, Twitch parent Amazon saw its fantasy MMORPG New World debut with a viewership of 39M hours in September

Square Enix to launch a new, mobile-focused London studio (link)

  • The new mobile-focused studio will be called Square Enix London Mobile. The new studio will focus on two upcoming titles in the Tomb Raider and Avatar: The Last Airbender universes
  • Square Enix London Mobile is collaborating with Navigator Games in the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender title
  • Square Enix London Mobile’s Tomb Raider Reloaded, a mobile arcade-style action title, will purportedly feature elements of the classic games, including traps, puzzles, and relic hunting

Meta4 Capital will invest up to $100M in rare NFTs (link)

  • The minority-owned fund has backing from Andreessen Horowitz. Meta4 Capital is being set up by Fund Management, a cryptocurrency-focused investment management company
  • The firm has some form of commitment for about a quarter of the targeted fund so far, with more closing in the coming months. Andreessen Horowitz’s investment size has not been disclosed

Gaming Public Multiples

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