The value of the investments made within the global games industry has reached record levels in 2021. More developers and studios are securing major funding and the number of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) across the sector continues to grow.
PocketGamer.biz caught up with My.Games' chief marketing officer Elena Grigoryan, as the company prepares to launch the second round of its Game Drive business acceleration campaign, which is open to developers around the world.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you give some background to My.Games Venture Capital and what it does?
Elena Grigoryan: Here at My.Games, we have been engaged in game development for many years and have always nurtured a culture of partnership and teamwork. As our business continues to grow, we decided to open MGVC, the investment division of My.Games.
As a company that today unites more than 45 studios and has many years of experience in bringing successful products to the market, we are well aware of the value of mentoring and consulting for new game developers. We deliberately wanted to keep the investment structure close to our current business to show partners we choose to invest in that they will not only receive money as an investment but that they will also receive access to our years of experience, technology and analytics.
We are constantly on the lookout for promising games and companies full of talent to support. We aim to bring ambitious studios and companies with bright ideas into the My.Games family and work in partnership with them to help them reach their goals. This can mean several things depending on what is required for the project - but we make sure all partners retain operational and creative freedom to define their own strategy. We don’t just invest and wait for outcomes, we really want our partners to be part of the team.
One thing is for sure - we always aim to support our partners by providing effective solutions and services. Our bespoke expertise includes all aspects of game development and publishing - from finance, design, marketing and infrastructure.
Since launching in 2017 MGVC has concluded dozens of deals and currently, the fund's portfolio has grown to include over 40 studios. In 2020, MGVC helped 12 studios with investments and consolidated two - BeIngame and Deus Craft, while in the first half of 2021, MGVC concluded six deals with a total volume of more than $20 million.
The two studios’ games Zero City and Grand Hotel Mania entered the list of top-10 titles in the My.Games portfolio (ranking sixth and fourth, respectively). Grand Hotel Mania in 2020 ranked second globally among mobile games in the time management category on iOS and Android in terms of revenue.
We really understand that investing in a game is a different proposition to investing in other sectorsElena Grigoryan
MGVC was listed by analytics firm Investgame as amongst the top 15 ranking venture capital firms investing in the sector globally with the figure standing at approximately $100 million since the division’s launch.
What makes My.Games Venture Capital different from other VCs?
MGVC isn’t looking for a complete project to invest in. Instead, we look to back talented teams and developers with great ideas. We know that we will be active in helping you to get your project over the line.
We bring many years of industry experience to a project, and a good instinct for what developers will need - and crucially - when they need it, in order to take their idea from prototype to release and beyond.
Not only are we experts in providing tools and support to projects in various stages of development, but we also can provide essential marketing expertise, advice on best practices for user acquisition and a suite of metrics to create and sustain success.
Importantly we are very people and talent-focused. We really understand that investing in a game is a different proposition to investing in other sectors. Our industry is one of talent, ideas and technology and we have the skills within the MGVC and MY.GAMES ecosystem to really hone those elements to ensure the best possible outcome for our partners.
Today, MGVC is one of the top 10 gaming investment funds based on the amount of investment during the last several years, and we are constantly looking for new studios and talent with bright ideas to support.
What attributes do you look for in companies you would consider investing in?
We like to get a good overview of the company, their vision and motivation as well as the team’s previous experiences in game development. We want to hear ideas and concepts that the company is excited to build next. Products designed to attract and engage a broad audience worldwide is the level of ambition that we are looking for.
These days in the gaming industry, everyone is looking to find the perfect idea that can shake the market. But this is a very unpredictable industry, so businesses should be ready to try and fail and then try again by changing their product. An experienced investor’s touch can help you with these efforts, and that’s why MGVC provides not only financial investment but also a wide range of expertise and analytic tools.
The core philosophy of MGVC is investing in the teams and their ideas, rather than in products. With the experience of the MGVC team we can always give studios everything they need in terms of growth and product scaling:
- Design expertise for the creation of durable free-to-play games-as-a-service titles
- Marketing to bring the game to millions of players worldwide
- User-friendly proprietary infrastructure for games operation and marketing that empower teams to make data-driven solutions and streamline the team’s focus on building a great product
The ecosystem of the MGVC portfolio also enables knowledge sharing and collaboration between studios.
The core philosophy of MGVC is investing in the teams and their ideas, rather than in products.Elena Grigoryan
How can game companies that are just starting out make themselves attractive to investors?
There are several ways that companies can appeal to investors. Having a unique game concept that addresses a broad audience worldwide and stands out from the competition is one keyway. In a market where hundreds of new projects appear every day, a clear vision of future project scaling as well as a clearly defined business plan is crucial, along with an understanding of key product metrics and market requirements.
Money is clearly a big part of investing, but what other services and expertise do My.Games Venture Capital offer?
As we say above - we bring our partners into the My.Games ecosystem and offer a full service for developing and publishing. Thanks to our approach of getting to know our partners we quickly understand where they need support.
Key examples of expertise that we can offer are development and production, marketing, data analytics, publishing, user acquisition (UA) and scaling for international reach.
For example, mobile game publishing is very much influenced by user acquisition techniques. Without a good strategy for UA, it can be difficult to be successful despite having an interesting game.
We can provide valuable input into promotional best-practice using a range of measurable marketing and advertising tools. Data analysis is another crucial area in which we can provide real and insightful leadership from a project’s inception and beyond.
Something that we use regularly, for example, is myTracker - a proprietary tool developed to provide regular and up to the minute analytics on market performance.
Can you explain your partnership with Google in terms of the Game Drive business acceleration campaign?
Google is a key partner for us for mobile games publishing and we’ve built up a strong and complementary relationship with them over a number of years.
Our joint mission with Game Drive is to find talented studios and help them grow with a wide scale of consulting, marketing tools, metric analytics, publishing expertise and many more. Both companies see this as part of our social responsibility as two brands that are successful in the gaming industry.
Google has world-beating expertise in analytics and provides a major platform for mobile gaming.
By getting out advice early in a project’s trajectory we can really help developers have the success they are striving for.Elena Grigoryan
My.Games meanwhile has deep expertise in mobile game development, publishing and investing. By working in tandem with Google we’re well placed to provide 360 experience and analysis for early-stage games. By getting out advice early in a project’s trajectory we can really help developers have the success they are striving for.
Can you talk about any projects/companies you have invested in / published?
There were eight studios that were invited for the first demo day. Each studio received tailored feedback and an in-depth analysis of their project on personal calls with MGVC and Google experts.
Studios that received expert feedback during the season one campaign were:
- TryHard Games (Wasteland Punk)
- Sand Forge Games (Warfronts: Battle of Toria)
- Big 6 (Big 6 Hockey Manager)
Studios MGVC has previously invested in previously include Pizza Club Games, Purple Games and Hypemasters.
What is the next step for the campaign?
We have just announced the second season of the campaign, which began on August 5th, 2021. This season we will provide an investment pool of up to $30 million for the whole campaign, which we will invest into the most interesting studios and projects.
We invite all mobile game developers from EMEA countries to submit their projects for our review via the application form.
We know and love what we do, and together with our long-time reliable partner, Google, MGVC will be happy to provide all the necessary opportunities for the growth of a new generation of mobile game developers.
For this season of Game Drive, we have further expanded the business acceleration campaign by forming a series of educational sessions. The first online session will take place on September 9th, where we will be glad to invite everyone.
We'll tell you why we came up with this story and what it can give you as a mobile game developer.