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Scopely has made a $20M investment in Burlingame Studios, a new game studio started by veterans of casual games.
Chris McGill, CEO of Burlingame Studios, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the team has about 20 to 30 people already, depending on how you count full-timers and contractors. The studio will focus on casual mobile games, he said.
Many of the veterans are alumni from Glu and CrowdStar. The latter created the highly successful free-to-play game Design Home as well as Covet Fashion.
The deal is one of a number of moves made by Los Angeles-based Scopely, which has been busy raising money of its own and investing heavily in game talent. In October, Scopely bought GSN, the maker of the Wheel of Fortune game, from Sony for $1 billion.
McGill said Burlingame Studios sees Scopely as a partner, as Scopely has a bunch of game studios as well as its Playgami tech platform for crafting and optimizing mobile games.
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“Like with Design Home, we’re making apps that have game mechanics, and they’re targeted at people who don’t consider themselves to be gamers,” McGill said.
Games like Design Home are the company’s foundation, but not necessarily an indication of what it is doing, he said.
“We think that we’re actually expanding the gaming pie rather than fighting for the finite amount of people who consider themselves to be gamers,” he said.
Scopely’s ecosystem aims to build game teams with “incredible talent density where the traditional boundaries between developer and publisher are eliminated.”
McGill most recently served as senior vice president and general manager at Glu Mobile. Glu acquired CrowdStar in 2017, and Electronic Arts gobbled up Glu for an enterprise value of $2.4 billion in 2021.
McGill’s cofounders include Jose Avila, Barlow Gilmore, Brandon Jones and Scott Cuthbertson. Now I’m not exactly sure how this bunch of dudes specialized in making casual games that are largely consumed by women, or people who don’t consider themselves to be gamers. But there’s no doubt that the games were successful.
The team is based in Burlingame but it has members as far away as Guatemala and Argentina.
“It’s basically an awesome group of people. It’s a mixture of people that I worked with for a long time and we’re like family, and we have some new blood and are really excited after sitting on the sidelines for a little while,” McGill said. “It’s just fun to get creating again. I’m super stoked about it.”
Scopely has also invested in blockchain game company Animoca Brands; IndiGG, a sub-DAO of Yield Guild Games; and Polygon, a decentralized Ethereum scaling platform; and game studios around the globe such as Tag Games and Pixel Toys.
As for choosing Scopely, McGill said the startup had a lot of funding options.
“At the end of the day, Scopely was an obvious choice,” he said. “It was a clear winner.”
He knew the Scopely co-CEOs Walter Driver and Javier Ferreira for a long time, and he knows their creative process and centralized infrastructure and user acquisition skills. As for the amount raised, McGill said it gives the company a lot of runway.
Tim O’Brien, chief revenue officer at Scopely, said in a statement, “We are proud to invest in this group of gamemakers who are deeply committed to building the best experiences possible and thrilled that they selected us as their partner of choice. We believe our ecosystem is extremely unique and are always energized when new partners see the value of our infrastructure and technology – specifically our platform Playgami – to make their fun, creative gameplay into a big business. Today marks a bright future of collaboration, and we are thrilled to work with Chris and team.”
As an FYI, I’m going to SXSW next week and will moderate a panel with Scopely and Paramount on the making of Star Trek Fleet Command.
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