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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.
50. Ogmento — $7.1M for location-based mobile games. Investors: Chart Venture Partners and CNF Investments. Date undisclosed.
51. Grockit — $7M for gamifiying studying via rewards and achievements. Investors: Atlas Ventures , NewSchools Venture Fund, Michael Moe from GSV Capital, Benchmark Capital and Integral Capital. Oct. 17.
52. Telltale Games — $7M for episodic games. Investors: IDG Ventures and Granite Ventures. June 5.
53. Bunchball — $6.5M for gamification platform expansion. Investors: Triangle Peak Partners, Northport Investments, Correlation Ventures and Granite Ventures. June 13.
54. Booyah — $6M for social mobile games. Investors: Sequoia Capital. Aug. 1.
55. CrowdPark — $6M for social betting games where users make a prediction and bet virtual money on the outcome. Investors: Target Partners and Earlybird Venture Capital. Oct. 19.
56. CrowdTwist — $6M for gamifying loyalty programs with more interesting achievements. Investors: SoftBank Capital and Fairhaven Capital. Sept. 19.
57. Games2win — $6M for casual game publisher in India. Investors: SVB and Clearstone Venture Partners . March 29.
58. GameSalad — $6M to create tools that make everyone into a mobile game developer. Investors: Steamboat Ventures, with participation from Greycroft Partners, DFJ Mercury, DFJ Frontier and ff Asset Management. March 31.
59. Striiv — $6M to make fitness fun via a step-tracking device with a display. Investors: Ronald Chwang of iD Ventures; Colin Angle, founder of iRobot; Dado Banatao of Tallwood Ventures (a private investment); along with other angel investors . Sept. 7. (Striiv device pictured right).
60. Woozworld — $6M to take teen virtual world into mobile market. Investors: Telesystem and iNovia Capital and others. Aug. 30.
61. Playmesh — $5.8M for mobile games. Investors: Rembrandt Venture Partners and others. Date undisclosed.
62. A Bit Lucky — $5M for social games such as Lucky Train. Investors: Nexon. March 21.
63. Gamerizon — $5M for mobile game studio in Montreal. Investors: Vanedge Capital and Inovia Capital. Sept. 16.
64. Peak Games — $5M for social games in emerging markets such as Turkey. Investors: Earlybird Venture Capital. May 25.
65. Pixonic — $5M for social games in Russia. Investors: Ventech, Kite Ventures, TA Ventures. May 31.
66. PlayJam — $5M for taking games to smart TVs and set-top boxes. Investors: GameStop Digital Ventures, Adobe Ventures, Endeavour Ventures, London Venture Partners and others. Oct. 25.
67. We R Interactive — $5M for social games. Investor: Christian Purslow and others. May 13.
68. SuperSonicAds — $4.25M for in-game branded ads. Investors: Greylock Partners. July 19.
69. FanDuel — $4M for Investors: Piton Capital, Pentech Ventures, and Scottish Investment Bank. July 9.
70. Roblox — $4M for kids building-block virtual world. Investors: Altos Ventures and First Round Capital. June 14.
71. Six Degrees Games — $4M for sports virtual world. Investors: undisclosed. May 2.
72. Xfire — $4M for social communication service for gamers. Investors: Intel Capital and unnamed angels. Oct. 16.
73. Pretty Simple — $3.5M for social games such as My Shops. Investors: IDInvest. May 19.
74. Row Sham Bow — $3.5M for Facebook games such as Woodland Heroes. Investors: Intersouth Partners. Oct. 18.
75. Social Point — $3.4M for social game publisher in Spain. Investors: Nauta Capital. June 24.
76. Silicon Knights — $3M for console games. Investors: Ontario government. July 14.
77. Spicy Horse Games — $3M for Chinese console and PC game developer. Investors: Vickers Venture Partners. May 13.
78. Swrve — $2.7M for real-time feedback on online gamer activity. Investors: Intel Capital, SV Angel, Jameson Hsu, Bob Ippolito, Sami Lababidi, Shukri Shammas, AIB Seed Capital Fund Limited Partnership, the Bank of Ireland Start-up Accelerator Fund, the AIB Seed Capital Fund, Enterprise Ireland and other angel investors.
79. Grey Area — $2.5M for alternate reality mobile games. Investors: Index Ventures, London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. Feb. 23.
80. Small Worlds — $2.5M for virtual world. Investors: Sam Morgan and New Zealand Ministry of Science and Innovation. May 19.
81. Wild Needle — $2.5M for mobile social games. Investors: Rick Thompson and Shasta Ventures. Jan. 11.
82. Z2Live — $2.5M for mobile games such as Trade Nations. Investors: Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Madrona Venture Group. March 30.
83. L-Time Games — $2.2M for massively multiplayer online games studio in Korea. Investors: Knet Investment Partners and IMM Investment. Sept. 16.
84. Fuse — $2M for mobile games. Investors: BlackBerry Partners Fund and NFQ Ventures. May 20.
85. YouWeb — $2M for social web apps from games to movie sharing. Investors: unnamed existing investors. Aug. 25. (Chairman Peter Relan, pictuerd right).
86. Motiga — $1.9M convertible note for social games such as The LeftOvers. Investors: Mark Moore, Nick Lawler, Alesia Pinney, and Neowiz. Aug. 25.
87. Mindbloom — $1.8M for games that teach you how to live life better. Investors: Seattle area angels. Sept. 26.
88. Xaitment — $1.6M for console games. Investors: Triangle Venture Capital and KFW. Sept. 29.
89. Airy Labs — $1.5M for. Investors: Google Ventures, Foundation Capital and Rick Thompson. March 8.
90. Claritics — $1.5M for social analytics for apps. Investors: Cervin Ventures and TiE Angels. May 12.
91. East Side Games — $1.5M for social games. Investors: undisclosed. July 28.
92. Hive Media — $1.5M for social games. Investors: Keiretsu Forum, Band of Angels, Golden Seeds, and the Angels’ Forum. Aug. 31.
93. U4iA Games — $1.5M for free-to-play hardcore games. Investors: ABR Capital and unnamed executives from game publishers.
94. TapMe — $1.5M for in-game ad business. Investors: Bullet Time Ventures,Hyde Park Angels, Illinois Innovation Accelerator Fund (i2A) Rockfish Brand Ventures, and others. June 29.
95. Playgenic — $1.4m for German social game maker. Investors: Bayern Capital. Feb. 22.
96. Zio Studios — $1.3M for mobile and social games in Latin America. Investors: Promotora de Proyectos. Feb. 24.
97. MindSnacks — $1.2M for educational games. Investors: Felicis Ventures, 500 Startups, Mitch Kapor, Geoff Ralston, David Jesk, Oleg Tscheltzoff, Collaborative Fund, StartupAngel, ENIAC Ventures, Maneesh Arora, DreamIt Ventures, Startl, Theoria Capital and David Kim. March 9.
98. Noise Toys — $1.2M for social mobile games. Investors: DCM. March 10.
99. Eccky — $1M-plus for kids virtual world. Investors: MM Ventures, AmsterdamPark Capital, Thijs Bosma, and Yme Bosma. March 18.
100. Coffee & Power — $1M for gamified startup jobs marketplace with virtual economy. Investors: Mitch Kapor, Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Kevin Rose and others. Nov. 1.
101. Empire Avenue — $1M for social stock market. Investors: Crosslink Capital, iNovia Capital; BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk; Ben Narasin; TriplePoint Capital; Jeff Lapin; Kevin Swan; and Boris Wertz. Aug. 16.
102. Flare Games — $1M for location-based mobile games. Investors: Klaas Kersting. Aug. 3.
103. Gamzee — $1M for HTML5 social games. Investors: Bristol Investment Fund; Jarl Mohn, former CEO of Liberty Digital; Heiko Hubertz, CEO of Bigpoint; and Paul Bricault, a partner at Greycroft Partners. June 29.
104. Happy Cloud — $1M for online games on set-top boxes. Investors: Jesselson Capital and Miles Guilburne. Sept. 27.
105. Media Chaperone — $1M for tools for monitoring kids’ online game usage. Investors: Hyde Park Angels. Feb. 25.
106. MinoMonsters — $1M for social games. Investors: Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, Yuri Milner, Y Combinator, General Catalyst, Ignition Partners, Alex Ohanian, and Raymond Tonsing. Nov. 10.
107. Playkast— $1M for gamifying video watching with rewards. Investors: angel investors. Sept. 14.
108. Pocket Change — $1M for mobile game and app monetization platform. Formerly known as Lunch Money. Investors: Google Ventures, First Round Capital, Scott Banister, Baroda Ventures, David Sacks, Mike Jones, Kamran Pourzanjani and Alan Braverman. Nov. 23.
109. Sibblingz — $1M for Spaceport cross-platform game development tools. Investors: YouWeb. April 27.
110. Overwolf — $940,000 for social games overlay. Investors: Yossi Vardi and Israeli angels. Aug. 2.
111. The MobileGamer — $819,000 for mobile games. Investors: One97 Mobility Fund. July 18.
112. Game Ventures — $620,000 for . Investors: Neoteny Lab, Infocomm Investments, Digital Garage. Nov. 28.
113. Bees and Pollen — $500,000 to help social game companies get more money out of game players. Investors: friends and family. Sept. 14.
114. GuerrillaApps — $500,000 to create socially conscious games such as Trash Tycoon. Investors: undisclosed. Sept. 6.
115. Pluto Games — $500,000 for music games for iPad. Investors: YouWeb, Dave Roux, Brett Wander, and Praful Shah. Dec. 9.
116. Ryzing — $500,000 for social games. Investors: A&I Investors. Date undisclosed.
117. Tic Tac Ti — $500,000 for game ad network. Investors: Kima ventures. July 1.
118. QuickHit — $450,000 for sports online games. Investors: New Enterprise Associates and Valhalla Partners . June 30.
119. Zipline Games — $400,000 for Moai mobile game development platform. Investors: Shane Kim and others. Aug. 8.
120. Massive Damage — $325,000 for location-based games. Investors: Grassfed Capital and angel investors. Sept. 29.
121. Mention Mobile — $250,000 for social game developer. Investors: Marc Cuban. Nov. 8.
122. Bubble Gum Interactive —
$200,000 [Updated: $1.3M ]for online games. Investors: Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund, Artesian Capital, Elevation Capital, Angaros, other angels, and government grants. Aug. 30.
123. Audience Entertainment — undisclosed amount for interactive entertainment in stadiums and movie theaters. Investors: Impetus Capital. May 11.
124. Diversion — undisclosed amount for social games. Investors: Tomorrow Ventures, Hearst Corp., Tornante Co., Marcy Casey, Art Bilger. July 22.
125. Edenic Games — undisclosed amount for social game maker in Spain. Investor: Caixa Capital. March 14.
126. EpicForce — undisclosed amount in Chinese mobile game maker. Investor: CyberAgent Ventures. July 6.
127. Game Closure — undisclosed amount for HTML5 cross-platform games. Investors: not disclosed. May 12.
128. Grand Cru — undisclosed amount for Finnish game developer. Investors: Lifeline Ventures. May 6.
129. Herotainment — undisclosed amount for childrens media and game company. Investors: Cuneo & Co. Nov. 30.
130. HitFox — undisclosed amount for user acquisition and monetization in games. Investors: Heiko Hubertz, Digital Pioneers N.V., Team Europe, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Hasso Plattner Ventures, Tengelmann Group and Kite Ventures. Sept. 22.
131. Honestly Now — undisclosed amount for Q&A social game. Investors: Golden Seeds. Sept. 22.
132. KreditFly — undisclosed amount for mobile payments system. Investors: Altos Ventures and ATA Ventures. Jan. 11.
133. Loki Studios — undisclosed amount for location-aware smartphone games. Investors: DCM. Oct. 21.
134. Mega Zebra — undisclosed amount for social games. Investors: Doughty Hanson and Kizoo. March 31.
135. Neonga — undisclosed amount for massively multiplayer online game publisher. Investors: Tengelmann Ventures, High-Tech Grunderfonds and VC Fonds Kreativwirtschaft Berlin. Dec. 8.
136. OnsOn Soft — undisclosed amount for 20 percent stake in Korean online game maker. Investors: Gamigo. Nov. 10.
137. Otoy — undisclosed amount for cloud rendering platform. Investors: Autodesk. Oct. 20.
138. Pangalore — undisclosed amount for HTML5 social and mobile games. Investors: NHN. Nov. 15.
139. Play140 — undisclosed amount for text-based games on Twitter and SMS. Investors: Ojas Ventures and SOS Ventures. May 30.
140. Portalarium — undisclosed amount for social games. Investors: m8 Capital. Jan. 6.
141. Puzzazz — undisclosed amount for puzzle books for Amazon Kindle and other devices. Investors: Charles Fitzgerald, Richard Garfield, Edward Jung, Shel Kaphan and Mike Koss. June 30.
142. RRKidz — undisclosed amount for mobile versions of Reading Rainbow television show. Investors: Levar Burton (pictured right) and others. Sept. 14.
143. SoybeanSoft — undisclosed amount for Indonesian social game firm. Investors: East Ventures. Aug. 11.
144. Spil Games — undisclosed amount for online casual games. Investors: North Bridge Growth Equity. June 11.
145. Ultizen — undisclosed amount for game development and outsourcing firm in China. Investors: Gree. Aug. 11.