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Most of the time, when we talk about games, it’s about the giant industry that creates titles like Elden Ring and Call of Duty. There is, however, a large sector of the gaming market that focuses on a younger demographic. Educational software is a multi-billion dollar business and growing.
One such developer, Budge Studios, has had great success in edutainment. Featuring licenses such as Barbie, Paw Patrol, and Hello Kitty, the studio has been steadily growing since inception. In an attempt to help with this growth, Budge has been acquired by free-to-play publisher Tilting Point. Tilting Point has had a number of mobile hits including SpongeBob: Krusty Cook-Off, Star Trek Timelines, and Warhammer: Chaos & Conquest.
“Joining the Tilting Point family is an exciting and huge opportunity for Budge,” said David Lipes, Co-CEO of Budge. “With this acquisition, we will continue operating independently to develop the best creative content, plus have even more access to globally-recognized IP and a greater ability to bring our games to even more children worldwide.”
With this acquisition, Tilting Point hopes to lend Budge it’s expertise and support to make the developer reach an even wider audience. We spoke with Tilting Point’s founder and co-CEO Kevin Segalla about the acquisition and what we should expect to see from Budge Studios going forward.
What’s your personal history in gaming?
My history with games really begins with Tilting Point, which I founded ten years ago to help indie developers navigate the mobile games space. This was after two decades in the film industry, first as an indie producer and then as the founder of three successful businesses helping producers with film finance, production services, and production facilities. It felt like a natural evolution to branch into games – but as I dug deeper, I was frankly blown away by the size of the video game industry and I was especially intrigued by the fast growing indie mobile space. There were so many talented indie developers that suddenly had the ability to make a significant mark on the video game industry through mobile, and helping independent artists is my sweet spot. After investing in a couple of fledgling developers, I saw a greater need for not just capital, but also marketing and publishing services in this new world of mobile games.
Even though our first game, Leo’s Fortune, was a big hit and won the Apple Design Award, it took us quite a bit of time to really figure out the right business model in indie game publishing. Ultimately, Samir Agili joined Tilting Point and we formed a great partnership as co-CEOs. Since then, we’ve evolved into a top free-to-play game publisher by constantly innovating our Progressive Publishing platform. Our mission to “Change developers lives” has become a reality and I am proud that we have made a significant impact on the independent game space. I was particularly psyched this year when PocketGamer ranked us #17 on their list of Top Mobile Game Makers – amongst some really fantastic companies.
What interested you folks in educational software?
Budge is one of the largest developers within the kids entertainment genre with over 250m downloads annually. They have built that position by developing highly integrated gaming experiences with brands that kids love and gaining the trust of parents through high quality products. We wanted to expand in this fast growing kids segment by partnering with a category leader and to help accelerate Budge’s success by providing many of the publishing services that Tilting Point already provides to gaming companies.
What expertise do you feel you add to the Budge Studios lineup?
What we do at Tilting Point is accelerate and amplify developers’ businesses, and that will be true for Budge and their games, as well. We do it through sophisticated performance marketing, app store optimization and featuring, and through the tremendous data insights we’ve built. We also help developers maximize their distribution through every platform that makes sense, including the subscription platforms. And finally, the relationships we have with licensors allows us to connect developers like Budge with even more big brands.
Any plans to expand beyond mobile devices?
We already have considerable experience bringing mobile-first games to new platforms, and we will do the same for Budge’s games. We will take them wherever we deem it a good fit, whether that means taking them to PC, Mac, consoles or other devices and platforms. At the end of the day, we define our business by our monetization expertise which is currently centered on F2P and subscription platforms but we are quickly branching out from there as we grow our expertise in emerging forms of monetization.
With your new acquisition, where do you see Budge going next?
When we make an acquisition of a developer, it’s always a strong entrepreneurial team with an established track record. We don’t integrate them into Tilting Point as we prefer to empower them to continue operating independently and then we provide them with the resources and the capital to do so at a bigger scale. Because Co-CEOs David Lipes and Mike Elman, together with their management teams, have done such a great job building Budge into the children’s game powerhouse that they are, they would be very capable in identifying other great developers in the space and either publishing or acquiring them, and that is something that excites all of us.
In addition, both Budge and Tilting Point were already considered strong partners for brands that want to bring their IP to games – together as a combined larger company, we become an even more compelling partner of choice for brands by catering to a wider audience of all ages.
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