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Fenix Games has raised $150 million to create a new kind of publisher for blockchain games.
The idea is to create a publishing and platform company that will play a key role in commercializing blockchain games. Fenix Games plans to acquire, invest in, and publish both existing games and blockchain games of the future.
Investors include Phoenix Group and Cypher Capital. The new company suggests that blockchain gaming, which has had something of a Cambrian explosion in recent years, is heading towards consolidation in which big companies will emerge by acquiring or funding all strong startups. In other words, Fenix Games hopes to be in a good position to bring many companies together into a single strong company with a large portfolio, one that can survive the current stagnation in blockchain gaming.
“You can think of us as a venture capital fund,” Chris Ko, CEO and co-founder of Fenix Games, said in an interview with GamesBeat. “The market is similar to the previous [mobile gaming at the rise of free-to-play games] but you haven’t found your Clash of Clans for blockchain games yet. We are using the venture capital arm to fund the next generation of games. In fact, we’re going to start with a huge capital base to invest in those studios. We’re also looking to use our balance sheet to acquire a bunch of existing games in the Web2 space to build a portfolio. And that will be the right base for our portfolio.”
Historically, the gaming industry has had players that provided a market or platform for both
gamers and game developers. On consoles, the platforms included Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. And on mobile, the platforms are Apple and Google.
In both cases, an entire market was created and gave rise to an ecosystem to allow the consumption of content. However, for blockchain gaming, this market does not currently exist, Ko said. The company was started by a group of veterans of the gaming industry, blockchain and financial markets.
“We plan to acquire, invest in, publish and operate select case games and studios,” Ko said. “We will have a few hundred million to deploy to execute our strategy.”
The chains represent a potential platform similar to previous gaming cycles, but at this stage they don’t appear to be focused on building the market for gamers, Ko said.
“We think this is temporary as the main applications on the chains will be gaming,” Ko said. “The infrastructure, tools and support are simply not there. We believe there is an opportunity for the role of the publication to elevate its role in the gaming ecosystem.”
More seasoned game developers are branching out into blockchain gaming, particularly in the wake of Apple’s privacy push in mobile gaming. But Fenix Games believes that a very limited set of games are being developed for blockchain platforms so far.
“We believe there is a structural gap – our goal is to fill this gap with a redefined editorial group that leverages some of the traditional editorial features, but with a new feature,” Ko said. “Similar to free-to-play mobile games, there was a Combining analytics and the product management feature to launch, scale, and operate live services, we believe that blockchain games will see a similar ‘mix’ of features.”
Fenix Games wants to combine the skills of its people in game publishing and product management, as well as The roles will build on product management, but will take disciplines and capabilities from financial services, primarily asset management.
The combination of these disciplines is what the company calls gaming market economies. In its simplest terms, that will create the market for a game or games to maximize potential players for a game. A key function of the game market economies will be to scale the community before the game launches.
Similar to the live operations feature that was built to sustain a game post-launch for years, Fenix Games believes that the economies of the game market will play a vital role in the months and even years before a game launches. This activity is needed to fill the gap in what platform owners used to fill.
“It’s a bit cumulative, but it’s also an investment,” Ko said.
Fenix Games will focus on uniting the economies of the game market and live operations to provide publishing services to all game models: premium, free-to-play and blockchain games on all platforms.
“I see a big gap right now with various developers experimenting with game infrastructure, middleware, and more. There’s no one really playing the publisher role and trying to figure out how to successfully go to market,” Ko said. “By taking a publishing approach, we abstract from technologies. We play Switzerland when it comes to technology and mitigate risks.”
In addition to raising its own funds, Fenix Games will also have access to investor allies with far more capital, in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Ko said that Fenix Games is a next-generation game publisher facilitating the transition of the next billion gamers to a blockchain-integrated future. While traditional Web2 games have mature distribution platforms and marketplaces gathering billions of gamers and developers, Web3 lacks the infrastructure, tools, and support to facilitate mass adoption.
As more and more quality developers embrace blockchain technology and design principles, Ko said the company sees an opportunity for the publishing role to elevate its value in game design, marketing and operations.
“And what that means is that we are not bound by just one technology, we are not bound by just one ecosystem,” Ko said.
Ko was previously the senior vice president of corporate development at Mythical Games. He has nearly 20 years of gaming experience, having held general manager positions at Electronic Arts and Kabam. Before that, he was a portfolio manager at Blackrock and an equity research analyst at JPMorgan.
Other co-founders of Fenix Games include Rudy Koch, chief business officer and co-founder of Mythical Games. Koch has 15 years of game development experience at the biggest names in the industry: Club Penguin, Call of Duty, Skylanders, and World of Warcraft.
Antonio Hallack is the CIO/CTO and co-founder. Hallack previously worked as the global head of electronic transactions at Credit Suisse; head of prop trading, market maker, CTO and other senior positions at IB (Citi, Merrill, Goldman, Salomon Smith Barney, Bridgewater, etc.). He has been involved in prop trading, market making, and asset management in crypto markets since 2017.
Matt Nutt is the COO and Co-Founder of Fenix Games. He was previously COO and Head of Games at Mythical Games. Before joining Mythical, he was Vice President and Group General Manager of EA Mobile. Previously, he oversaw studios at Glu Mobile, ran independent studio Cie Games (and sold it to Glu for $100 million in 2014), and held management positions at Blizzard Entertainment and Square Enix, in business development roles.
“The four of us approached the company to extend the things we’ve done in our previous lives to ‘blockchain gaming markets,’” Ko said.
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