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Gamefam has raised $25 million in venture funding to build games on Roblox in another sign of the growth of user-generated content.
Joe Ferencz, CEO of Gamefam, said in an interview with GamesBeat that he believes his studio is the first Roblox developer to cross more than 125 game developers. The Los Angeles company specializes in making games that pair up native Roblox developers with brands that want to reach Roblox’s 55 million daily active users.
Konvoy and Play Ventures led the round, with participation from Makers Fund, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Galaxy Interactive.
“I think that it’s going to be an incredible growth segment for the video game industry at large,” Ferencz said. “I think everybody sees that you cannot deny the creative force of hundreds of thousands of citizen creators, bedroom developers, making content out of passion. That is going to lead to incredible ideas and to humongous franchises. These platforms like Roblox are giving these creators the tools to chase their own dreams and some of them will inevitably come up with things that are going to change the world of gaming and entertainment, as we know it.”
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Gamefam provides creators with tools, resources and processes to manage their games more effectively so creators can focus on big creative ideas, Ferencz said. Gamefam has helped creators raise game revenue, incorporate best-in-class analytics and live ops practices, and brought staffing, marketing, brand partnership, and advertising opportunities.
The company has more than 6.5 million unique daily users in the U.S. and 15 million globally. It has partnered with top companies including Mattel, Disney, Paramount, Wildbrain, Sony, and Ubisoft to develop custom branded experiences that deliver more reach and engagement than any traditional media channel, including TV.
Gamefam believes its creative media business will lead the way to the metaverse. Founded in 2019, Gamefam currently has more than 30 games on Roblox including top-25-games Twilight Daycare, All Star Tower Defense, and Tower of Misery.
Gamefam’s portfolio receives over 25 million visits every day and more than 75 million hours of gameplay every month.
Gamefam is extending their IP beyond the platform with a toy line by WowWee based on Twilight Daycare expected to launch in July 2022 bringing the company’s popular games outside of Roblox universe.
Ferencz said he has been working in the pop culture gaming space his entire career. He started 10 years ago as a graphic designer on licensed sports T-shirt and posters, but his heart was in the character design. He did internships at Disney and Nintendo, and he got a job at Ubisoft doing franchise strategy with a lot of focus on Assassin’s Creed. He spent three years at Mattel doing franchise development.
“I was fascinated by this world of what we now call citizen creators or bedroom developers, who were creating whole new ideas for ways to create game franchises and ways to engage and delight audiences. And the more I learned about it, the more I thought this is really going to be the future of entertainment.”
He figured Roblox would have a shot at becoming the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. He made his first Roblox game in 2018, and then he decided to build a real business around the idea of getting bedroom developers to work on hit entertainment franchises with Roblox. And he started Gamefam in 2019.
“By adding value and and delivering for these creators in the metaverse, we started partnering with bigger and bigger developers, and we now top out at 250,000 concurrent players on the weekends in our portfolio,” Ferencz said. “We’re the No. 2 developer network on Roblox with four top Roblox games and a suite of top 100 games in the portfolio.”
So far, the company is focused on Roblox as “it is still the only metaverse that really has scale.” But the company has made some inroads in Minecraft with a similar strategy. It’s also thinking about other platforms like The Sandbox and Rec Room. But Roblox remains the most exciting place from a creative and financial view, he said.
“The next phase of the company is not just continuing to add value to existing creators, but launching what we hope will be the next generation of super hit original franchises born from Roblox and the metaverse,” Ferencz said.
The key to success is finding game developers and metaverse creators who understand Gen Z players. Some of the creators want steady jobs and paychecks and stock options, while others want a chance to work independently on their own schedules.
“When you start a business like this, you have to be prepared to be maximally flexible,” he said. “You want to be part of their creative journey.”
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