Under the deal, Samsung Ventures will put an undisclosed amount of money into BlueStacks to help it develop and market GamePop, a white-label solution for cable companies and TV manufacturers to bring mobile games to televisions. It is part of a strategic effort to establish free-to-play or subscription-based Android games in the living room, potentially disrupting the $60 video games offered on game consoles from Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. Altogether, BlueStacks raised $13 million in the current funding round.
Since launching in 2013, BlueStacks has signed up Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Gree, and hundreds of other game companies to provide games for the platform. The interesting question is how serious Samsung is becoming about the game business. Samsung is also expected to field its own virtual reality headset soon, based on technology from Oculus VR.
“The size of the mobile gaming market combined with the unique technology BlueStacks has developed for these games to run smoothly on TV made this an easy choice for us,” said Ilseok Yoon, vice president at Samsung Ventures. “The control mechanic they have developed for mobile gaming on TV makes it feel like the games were developed for TV in the first place. It’s very impressive.”
BlueStacks was founded in 2009, and it had previously raised $15 million from Intel, Andreessen-Horowitz, Radar Partners, Redpoint, Ignition Partners, and Qualcomm. Besides Samsung, other investors in the current round include Andreessen-Horowitz, Qualcomm, Intel, Redpoint, Ignition Partners, Radar Partners, and Advanced Micro Devices.
“GamePop as a product is in peak fighting shape to take on Amazon Fire and others in a white-hot new market,” said BlueStacks CEO, Rosen Sharma. “We can’t wait to unlock our distribution.”
GamePop subscriptions are akin to a Netflix subscription, offering lots of games for a low monthly rental fee. KDDI in Japan has had great success with a similar deal in Japan, offering a thousand games for a monthly fee.
“The first piece you need is great content,” said BlueStacks’ Apu Kumar, “Surprisingly few companies have as large a stable of A-level game studios that we have behind GamePop. Once you have the content, distribution is everything. The partnership with Samsung and with leading cable operators in the US and Japan puts GamePop in the #1 spot for games on TV.”
BlueStacks’ Network, which includes games and apps on a variety of platforms, reaches over 100 million users.
“The Android expertise and distribution power of Samsung worldwide is unparalleled,” said Sharma. “It’s clear that mobile games are coming to TV. The market is arriving. Now, it’s simply a question of who will fill the gap.”