Using video game characters to make animated movies with funny voice overs started as a joke. But now it’s big business. Machinima.com has just raised $9 million in funding.
Machinima is a fusion of the words “machine” and “cinema,” and it refers to the use of games to create animated films such as the Red vs. Blue animated shows made using characters from Halo. In those shows, the game characters are like puppets that do whatever the show’s creators want them to do. Voice over is added later. The film makers are often gamers themselves who are looking to break into independent film.
Its roots go back to the 1980s, but it became popular with the creation of increasingly realistic graphics in games such as Doom and Quake. Now, Machinima.com is capitalizing on the popularity of its site, which aggregates all sorts of Machinima creations.
In the past year, traffic grew 300 percent. In May, Machinima.com delivered 127 million video views to more than 27 million monthly unique visitors.
Redpoint Ventures led the round, and partner Geoff Yang will join Machinima.com’s board. Allen DeBevoise, chief executive of Machinima.com, said the infusion will let the company scale up its growth and create an even better marketing platform for video games. Machinima has a popular channel for its videos on YouTube, and it has launched two new channels — Machinima Sports and Respawn — which have generated 100 million views in three months.
Machinima.com produces 25 original Machinima shows that range from showcasing games to telling dramatic or comic stories. In the first 100 days, Machinima.com’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 videos generated more than 125 million video views. The company hit its one billionth view in March and now has 1.5 billion views on YouTube.
The target demographic for the company’s audience is 18 to 34-year-old male gamers. Machinima.com’s popularity is understandable when you realize that games are part of mass culture and that video game characters are a great way to make a brand or story relevant to game fans.
The company was founded in 2000 by Hugh Hancock. DeBevoise became chief executive in 2006. The company now has 55 employees. The company doesn’t really have any established rivals. Investors include MK Capital. To date, the company has raised $14.2 million. It makes money through ads and media partnerships. Clients include Cinemax, HBO, Paramount, Warner Bros., Premiere, 20th C. Fox, MGM, Sony Pictures, Xbox, EA, Turbine Games, Atari, Sega and Funcom to name a few. Here’s a scene from the original show Dragon Age: Warden’s Fall — Episode 1.