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Garena is spinning out Phoenix Labs as a result of an investor-backed management buyout, GamesBeat has learned.
Phoenix Labs is the maker of Dauntless, a free-to-play game that scored tens of millions of players. On the strength of that game, Garena, a division of Singapore’s Sea, acquired Phoenix Labs in 2020.
Now the founders of Phoenix Labs will take the company private as part of a plan to unlock the company’s potential. Garena is the maker of Free Fire, a popular shooter game.
Going forward, Phoenix Labs will operate independently of Sea, and Phoenix Labs told the staff yesterday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In 2020, Garena paid $150 million for Phoenix Labs.
Phoenix Labs was founded in Vancouver in 2014 by veteran game executives with a track record of working on some of the world’s best-known game franchises. Jesse Houston served as CEO. The launched the monster-hunting game Dauntless formally in May 2019 and it had millions of users within a week. Sea was an early investor in Pheonix Labs.
The team recently unveiled Fae Farm, a farming life simulator, which is due to be released on Switch in 2023.
In a statement, Sea said, “We have been steadfast supporters of Phoenix Labs since its earliest days and will continue to be strong advocates for their team and their work going forward. We are confident that this is the right path forward to enable the team to maximize their long-term potential, and we wish the team every success for this next chapter.” Sea is focused more on profitability at the moment.
As for the next game, Phoenix Labs is working on Fae Farm as a Nintendo Switch exclusive and it is expected to debut in Q2 2023.
Built with cooperative experiences in mind, it will enable seamless drop-in, drop-out play through online and local wireless, so players can easily build farms, take on quests, and adventure together.
In terms of gameplay, Phoenix Labs said “players take on the role of an adventurer invited to join a friendly community and create a home, while restoring harmony to the land of Azoria. Alone or with friends, players will build out their homesteads, explore varied environments, gather resources, and plumb the depths of the world to uncover the magic they’ll need to rebuild Azoria.”
The dev team described it as “a love letter to farming and life sims they’ve enjoyed for years.”
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