Making a bigger push into games on the iPhone, Ngmoco has raised $25 million in a third round of venture capital and also acquired iPhone game developer Freeverse.
The round was led by Institutional Venture Partners and included existing shareholders Kleiner Perkins, Norwest Venture Partners, and Maples Investments. To date, Ngmoco, founded in mid-2008, has raised $40.6 million.
That may seem like an astounding amount of money to raise in the mobile game business, where it costs just hundreds of thousands of dollars to create games. But Ngmoco has been acquisitive and it has big things on its agenda. For instance, Ngmoco is more than likely to create games that run on Apple’s new iPad tablet computer, in addition to making games for the iPhone. Chief executive Neil Young said in a phone call that his company and Freeverse are likely to have a total of six games ready for the launch of the iPad.
“I think Apple has found a way to do a home game console without doing a home game console,” Young said, referring to how the iPad can be played on a couch in a home.
The company’s hits so far include TouchPets and Eliminate. Freeverse, meanwhile, has created games such as Skee-Ball, Flick Fishing and Moto Chaser. Young said that the company is working on about 20 new games this year and that Freeverse is likely to do just as many.
Late last year, Ngmoco shifted its business model from selling paid iPhone apps to providing them free of charge for game trials. If users wanted to continue playing them, they could pay. With Eliminate, a multiplayer shooting game, players could pay if they wanted to continue playing over time, much like the old arcade model where you paid 25 cents for a game session. That model is working out well, Young said.
But he acknowledged that the iPhone platform is still in its infancy when it comes to monetization. Social platforms such as Facebook are 18 months to two years ahead of the iPhone in terms of maturity. That means that iPhone game companies still have to raise capital to get their games noticed.
But Young said the mobile web is maturing quickly and that his company raised the latest round to put itself in the position of amassing scale. He said the company will use the money to get ahead of the pack of competitors as much as it can.
Young said the company recently acquired the paid app Charadium, which is like an iPhone version of the board game Pictionary. Ngmoco also operates the Plus+ platform, which is a cross promotion and social achievements platform that other developers can use to boost sales of their games. To date, more than 20 million units of games have been sold with the Plus+ platform, Young said.