Game fundings destroyed the record book for fundings this year as 145 companies raised more than $1.540 billion in 2011, not counting initial public offerings.
In 2011, games took center stage. Game investment changed fundamentally during the year, as investors shifted their money into social, mobile and online games as they chased after users who were embracing the newest platforms for games.
The total game investment number is up more than 47 percent from the $1.05 billion raised by 91 companies a year ago, based on VentureBeat’s own research. By comparison, 115 game companies raised a total of $663.1 million in 2009. And in 2008, 112 game companies raised $936.8 million.
Keep in mind that Nexon raised $1.2 billion and Zynga raised $1 billion in their IPOs in 2011, bringing the total amount of capital raised by game companies to $3.75 billion.
Even if you don’t count those two IPOs, venture capital funding for games has never been bigger. Zynga, the social gaming giant and creator of FarmVille and CityVille, accounted for a third of all of the venture funding raised in 2011.
Those numbers chronicle the biggest gold rush in the history of games. Just a few years ago, venture capitalists were afraid to invest in games because they were a lot like Hollywood movies, where it was too hard to pick the hits. But the collision of the web, social, mobile and online gaming trends led to a huge disruption for the industry and lots of opportunities for game startups.
Major VC firms such as Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, DCM, Andreessen Horowitz, and others all poured money into big game companies this year. Google Ventures became an active strategic investor as it recruited startups to make games for its Google+ social network.
Powered by the success of games such as Rovio’s Angry Birds, mobile game startups came into their own during the year, raising as much as $18 million per round.
Investors and startups saw huge exits, starting with Electronic Arts’ purchase of PopCap Games for $750 million in cash and stock plus $550 million in potential bonuses.
We’ve chronicled the gold rush religiously ourselves but have also pulled data for these fundings from the internet at large, the Internet DealBook, Digi-Capital, and the National Venture Capital Association.
We’ve ranked them here in order of the amount of money raised, and I’ve linked to our coverage or to those or who covered the funding. If there were no stories on the funding, I linked to the company’s own web site. Fundings where the amounts weren’t made public are listed alphabetically at the end. If you’ve heard of others, please note in the comments and we’ll add them to the list.
The list includes companies that raised funds in prior years but disclosed for the first time in 2011. It’s likely that some companies from last year’s list or this year’s have gone out of business. If so, let us know in the comments. We expect that we’ll be revising the list upward in the coming weeks as we add more deals that we didn’t know about.
This year, we decided to add fundings that involved gamification, or the use of game mechanics in non-game applications.
Each company link takes you back to the story we wrote about the company. In the rare cases where we did not cover the story, the link takes you back to another publication’s story on the funding. Happy reading.
1. Nexon — $1.2B for initial public offering on Tokyo Stock Exchange. Investors: the public. Dec. 13.
2. Zynga — $1B for initial public offering on Nasdaq. Investors: the public. Dec. 16.
3. Zynga — $490M for strategic expansion. Investors: Morgan Stanley, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity Investments, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Feb. 1.
4. Kabam — $85M for hardcore games on social networks. Investors: Google Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures, Performance Equity and SK Telecom Ventures, as well as existing investors. May 26. (Kabam CEO Kevin Chou pictured right).
5. Razer — $50M for gaming peripherals and hardware. Investors: IDG-Accel China Capital. Dec. 20.
6. Rovio — $42M for mobile games such as Angry Birds. Investors: Accel Partners, Felicis, and Atomico. March 10.
7. OnLive — $40M for games-on-demand service. Investors: HTC. Feb. 9.
8. 6waves Lolapps — $35M for social and mobile games. Investors: Nexon. Aug. 3.
9. Lumosity — $32.5M for brain-training games. Investors: Menlo Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Harrison Metal and Norwest Venture Partners. June 16.
10. Kabam — $30M for hardcore social games. Investors: Redpoint Ventures and Intel Capital. Jan. 20.
11. Gaikai — $30M for game-streaming technology. Investors: NEA, Qualcomm, Benchmark Capital, Rustic Canyon and Intel Capital. July 20.
12. Happy Elements — $30M for Chinese social games. Investors: Legend Capital, DCM. Oct. 16.
13. Tapjoy — $30M for mobile ad network and monetization services. Investors: J.P.Morgan and existing investors. July 5.
14. Online Warmongers — $25M for free-to-play online games such as War Inc. Battlezone. Investors: Cybergun. Aug. 25.
15. Wooga — $24M for social games on Facebook. Investors: Highland Capital Partners, Tenaya Capital, Balderton Capital, and Holtzbrinck Ventures. May 30.
16. CrowdStar — $23M for social, mobile and Asian online games. Investors: Intel Capital, Time Warner Investments, The9 and NVInvestments. May 23.
17. Funzio — $20M for social games such as Crime City (pictured right). Investors: IDG Ventures in the U.S. and IDG Capital Partners in China. May 10.
18. Gazillion — $20M for online game worlds. Investors: Temasek Holdings, Revolution Ventures, Oak Investments, Hearst Corp., Pellon Ventures, Abu Dhabi Media. Nov. 8.
19. Kixeye — $18M for hardcore games on Facebook. Investors: Jafco Ventures, Trinity Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners. Aug. 4.
20. Papaya Mobile — $18M for mobile social gaming network. Investors: Keystone Ventures and DCM. April 27.
21. TinyCo — $18M for social mobile games. Investors: Andreessen Horowitz. Feb. 25.
22. Zeebo — $17M for interactive education console for kids. Investors: undisclosed. Aug. 29.
23. Fourth Wall Studios — $15M for alternative reality entertainment. Investors: California Capital Equity. March 8.
24. Raptr — $15M for gamer social network. Investors: DAG Ventures, Tenaya Capital and Accel Partners. Feb 10.
25. Rumble Entertainment — $15M for mobile and browser-based games. Investors: Google Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Dec. 1.
26. CocoaChina — $14M for mobile games in China. Investors: Sequoia Capital China, Steamboat Ventures, Northern Light Venture Capital. Aug. 26.
27. Nubee — $13M for mobile games in Singapore. Investors: Vega Corp. Dec. 10.
28. SNS Plus — $12.5M for Asian social games. Investors: WI Harper Group and Matrix Partners. Nov. 28.
29. Badgeville — $12M to create a platform to gamifiy web sites. Investors: Norwest Venture Partners, El Dorado Ventures, Trinity Ventures and Webb Investment Network. July 13.
30. Digital Chocolate – $12M for social and mobile games. Investors: Intel Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Bridgescale Ventures. Feb. 22. (CEO Trip Hawkins, pictured right).
31. Kontagent — $12M to expand social analytics service into mobile. Investors: Battery Ventures, Maverick Capital, and Altos Ventures. Nov. 10.
32. Rivet Games — $12M (estimated) for web, social and mobile games. Investors: Softbank Capital, Baseline Ventures, Floodgate, and Outpoint Capital. April 20.
33. Supercell – $12M for hardcore real-time social games. Investors: Accel Partners and Klaas Kersting. May 25.
34. Unity Technologies — $12M to expand market for Unity 3D engine and game development tools. Investors: WestSummit Capital and iGlobe Partners. July 21. Pictured: David Helgason, CEO, right; Joachim Ante, chief technology officer, pictured left, and Nicholas Francis, chief creative officer, pictured center.
35. HealthTap — $11.5M for gamification of communication in doctor-patient relationships. Investors: Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Mayfield Fund. Dec. 6.
36. Peak Games – $11.5M for social gaming in emerging markets. Investors: Earlybird Venture Capital, Hummingbird Ventures and an unnamed strategic investor. Sept. 27.
37. DreamBox Learning — $11M for adaptive learning education games. Investors: Reed Hastings and John Doerr. Dec. 7.
38. Tiny Speck — $10.7M for web games such as Glitch. Investors: Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Partners. April 12.
39. OMGPOP — $10.1M for social game site. Investors: Spark Capital, Betaworks, Rho Capital and Softbank. June 1.
40. Moca World — $10M for mobile social networking games. Investor: Infinity Venture Partners. June 14.
41. Funcom — $10M for massively multiplayer online games. Investors: Stelt Holding. Dec. 13.
42. Idle Games — $10M for social games based on its proprietary Idle Engine, with social recommendations. Investors: not disclosed. Oct. 13.
43. Sourcebits – $10M for mobile games and apps. Investors: Sequoia Capital and IDG Ventures. May 11.
44. A List Games — $9.3M for marketing games via digital distribution. Investors: The Ayzenberg Group. Nov. 21.
45. Red Robot Labs — $8.5M for location-based mobile games. Investors: Benchmark Capital, Shasta Ventures, Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson, former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya. Sept. 14. CEO Mike Ouye, pictured left, and chief product officer Pete Hawley, pictured right.
46. Icarus Studios – $8.1M for online game development platform. Investors: undisclosed. March 24.
47. Kobojo — $7.75M for social games in France. Investors: Endeavour Vision and IDInvest Partners. April 26.
48. Ignite Game Technologies — $7.5M for online racing games. Investors: Steve Bellotti and Bill Budinger. July 12.
49. Rocket Ninja — $7.5M for social games. Investors: Marcel Boekhoom. Nov. 22.