Investing in video games isn’t an easy business. Consumer tastes are difficult to predict, and the long development time means that trends have often moved on by the time a title is ready to ship.
One of Europe’s most hyped, well-funded and ambitious games of recent years — Cyberpunk 2077 from Polish studio CD Projekt Red — was a critical flop (though commercial hit). Meanwhile Wordle, one of lockdown’s biggest hits, came from a solo developer designing a puzzle to keep his partner entertained during lockdown.
For VCs looking for a return, gaming presents a daunting landscape of fickle tastes and high development costs. But that isn’t putting them off.
Globally, the number of gaming investments in the first half of 2022 exceeded the previous (record-breaking) year, and global revenues are forecast to rise from $175.8bn in 2021 to $218.7bn in 2024.
So where are investors in Europe directing their capital?
Using data from Dealroom, Sifted analysed 64 investments into European gaming companies from Q1 and Q2, and looked at what types of companies and which countries are drawing the most interest. Here’s what we found.
Which gaming subsectors received the most investment?
We divided up the investments across seven different categories:
- Mobile games — which tend to target more “casual” gamers and often monetise via in-app purchases;
- PC and console games — which generally cost more up front but generate less returning revenue;
- Education — games designed specifically for learning;
- Esports and community platforms — the competitive gaming industry and streaming ecosystem (which involves players broadcasting their own gameplay);
- Virtual and augmented reality — which tend to be built by specialist studios that target a different market. This is partly due to the low consumer adoption of VR headsets — across the pond in the US, for example, it’s estimated that fewer than one in five people own one;
- Tech platforms — the companies building the supporting technology and infrastructure for gaming studios and publishers;
- Metaverse and Web3 — gaming is predicted to play a big role in the virtual worlds expected to make up a proportion of the next iteration of the internet. Among the companies to make money from this will be opportunists trying to get in on the metaverse land grab.
How much was raised?
While a relatively small percentage of investments into gaming companies to date in 2022 went to mobile gaming startups, the subsector drew in the most investment across the industry with the highest average round size. Metaverse and Web3 companies attracted the second most capital, but with a far smaller average round size — mobile gaming startups bagged an average round of €36.2m, while Web3 startups took home €9.2m and esports platforms €7.5m.
Where were investors most active?
This year the UK’s attracted more than double the number of rounds than the next most active country, Germany. The Nordics as a whole saw 12 investments between them, while seven deals happened in Iberia.
France, one of the continent’s big hitters in the gaming industry as the home of publishing giant Ubisoft, has seen just one gaming investment in 2022, according to the Dealroom data.
Another rising star is Turkey, which is fast becoming a creative hotbed for casual mobile games. London-based Balderton Capital and Felix Capital recently invested in a new studio, Agave Games, formed by three experienced game designers who’d worked at other successful studios in the country. Eastern Europe, meanwhile, has become a heavyweight producer of console and PC games, with studios like Bloober Team producing high-profile titles for Microsoft’s Xbox console.
If there’s one big takeaway from the data on European investments into gaming companies this year, it’s that there’s a new favourite in town. As mobile gaming companies begin to mature, scale and consolidate, the busiest subsector by far is Web3 and the metaverse.
Many of these companies don’t seem to know what form the metaverse will take, or where their games or services will fit within it. What investors do seem sure of though is that they want to get on board regardless, even if they don’t yet know where the ship is sailing.
2022’s gaming deals: listed
10k Riders — mobile, free-to-play games publisher
HQ: Cyprus. $500k seed round, July 2022
Bit Odd — new mobile game studio from Clash of Clans developers
HQ: Helsinki, Finland. €5m seed round, June 2022.
Pixel Perfect Dude — mobile-focussed game developer
HQ: Poland. €200k seed round, May 2022.
FRVR — developer of casual mobile games
HQ: Lisbon, Portugal. $76m late VC round, March 2022.
Volt Games — mobile game developer developer
HQ: Lisbon, Portugal. $1.5m seed round, March 2022
Tripledot Studios — indie mobile game developer
HQ: London, UK. $116m Series B round, February 2022.
PortalOne — mobile developer building hybrid virtual and live games
HQ: Oslo, Norway. $60m Series A round, January 2022.
AR ⁄ VR games
XR Games — AR and VR game development
HQ: Leeds, UK. £5.9m seed round, July 2022
Augmented Robotics — AR for real-world toys
HQ: Berlin, Germany. €700k seed round, July 2022
Epic VR — B2B VR developer
HQ: Poland. $1.2m seed round, February 2022.
CODDY — AR scavenger game for city exploration
HQ: Brussels, Belgium. February 2022.
Metaverse / Web3
Clubgame — mobile football management Web3 game
HQ: London, UK. $3.1m seed round, July 2022.
Cauldron — immersive game developer
HQ: Folkestone, UK. $6.6m seed round, July 2022.
Klang — developing a “space-based metaverse colony” game, Seed
HQ: Berlin, Germany. $41m Series C round, July 2022
Oxalis — developing crypto-based games
HQ: UK. $4.5m seed round, June 2022.
Nefta — platform for developing Web3 games
HQ: Berlin, Germany. $1m seed round, June 2022.
Playzap — play to earn gaming platform
HQ: Barcelona, Spain. Seed round (undisclosed amount), May 2022.
Metatheory — Web3 game and experience developer
HQ: Guernsey, UK. $24m Series A, May 2022.
TimeShuffle — Web3 multiplayer game developer
HQ: Switzerland. $2.1m seed round, May 2022.
Moralis — developer platform for Web3 applications, including games
HQ: Stockholm, Sweden. $40m Series A, May 2022.
Goons of Balatroon — play to earn metaverse game
HQ: Utrecht, Netherlands. $2.5m seed round, April 2022.
Playmint — blockchain-based game developer
HQ: Brighton, UK. $4m seed round, April 2022.
OpenBlox — Web3 game developer
HQ: London, UK. $3m seed round, April 2022.
First Light Games — blockchain-based game developer
HQ: London, UK. $5m initial coin offering, April 2022.
Goals — play-to-earn football game
HQ: Stockholm, Sweden. $15m seed round, April 2022.
RSTLSS — Web3 platform for creating digital wearables
HQ: London, UK. $3.5m seed round, March 2022.
Tiny Rebel Games — developing virtual pets for the metaverse
HQ: Cardiff, UK. $7m seed round, March 2022.
Bullieverse — play to earn metaverse game
HQ: UK. $4m seed round, February 2022.
Banger Games — play to earn platform for gamers
HQ: Madrid, Spain. €10m seed round, February 2022.
Ajuna — Web3 platform for game developers using Unity and Unreal engines
HQ: Switzerland. $2m seed round, February 2022.
Cauldron — immersive game developer
HQ: Folkestone, UK. $1.4m pre-seed round, February 2022.
Esports and community platforms
Team Queso — esports team specialising in mobile games
HQ: Colmenar Viejo, Spain. €1m seed round, July 2022.
Bayes Esports — esports data provision service
HQ: Berlin, Germany. €6m seed round, May 2022.
Legendary Play — esports game developer
HQ: Berlin, Germany. €4m Series A, April 2022.
Leagues — SaaS platform for national esports league
HQ: Denmark. €200k grant, March 2022.
Titan Academy — coaching for gamers
HQ: London, UK. Seed round (undisclosed amount), March 2022.
Aggero — analytics and monetisation platform for esports and streaming industry
HQ: London, UK. $2m seed round, March 2022.
NAG Studios — building games and platforms for esports players and streamers
HQ: Stockholm, Sweden. €170k seed round (₺3.1m), February 2022.
SwiftSkill — analytics tool for competitive gamers
HQ: Guernsey, UK. £150k seed round, January 2022.
Team Vitality — esports club specialising in shooters and sports games
HQ: Paris, France. €50m late VC round, January 2022.
Gamestry — video platform and community for gamers
HQ: Barcelona, Spain. $3m seed round, April 2022.
Konect — website building tool for gamers creating content
HQ: Guernsey, UK. €800k seed round, March 2022.
99math — maths games for students
HQ: Estonia. $2.1m seed round, July 2022.
Marshmallow Games — educational games for pre-school students
HQ: Bari, Italy. €2m seed round, June 2022.
Edurino — digital learning games with real-world toys
HQ: Munich, Germany. €3.4m seed round, February 2022.
Pink Fox Games — develops games to teach children and adults to love the planet
HQ: Hungary. $120k seed round, January 2022.
PC and console
Omeda Studios — developing a third person multiplayer battle game, predecessor
HQ: London, UK. $20m Series A round, June 2022.
Firestoke — indie game publisher for console and PC
HQ: Edinburgh, UK. $2.2m seed round, May 2022.
Industrial Technology and Witchcraft — indie game developer
HQ: Berlin, Germany. €1.7m seed round, March 2022.
Arctictheory — game developer focussing on massively multiplayer experiences
HQ: Reykjavík, Iceland. $2m seed round, March 2022.
Exit Plan Games — a new studio from experienced AAA game developers
HQ: Warsaw, Poland. €800k seed round (zł3.7m), January 2022.
Ant-workshop — indie game development and design studio
HQ: Edinburgh, UK. $1m seed round, January 2022.
Tech / development platform companies
Soba — no-code tool for game development
HQ: Berlin, Germany. $13.5m seed round, June 2022.
Lurkit — content creation platform for game developers and publishers
HQ: Linköping, Sweden. $2.7m seed round, June 2022.
Machinations — collaborative platform for game design and balancing
HQ: Luxembourg. $3.3m Series A, May 2022.
LootLocker — cross-platform development tool for indie studios
HQ: Stockholm, Sweden. $2.1m seed round. May 2022.
Coherence — cloud-based tool for multiplayer games
HQ: Malmo, Sweden. $8m seed round, April 2022.
Improbable — cloud-based platform for large-scale game development
HQ: London, UK. $150m Series B, April 2022.
Sloyd — platform for building 3D animated assets
HQ: Oslo, Norway. €600k seed round (6m kr), February 2022.
Speech Graphics — audio driven facial animation software
HQ: Edinburgh, UK. $7m seed round, February 2022.
Return Entertainment — platform for building cloud-based games
HQ: Helsinki, Finland. $6m seed round, February 2022.
LootLocker — cross-platform development tool for indie studios
HQ: Stockholm, Sweden. Undisclosed pre-seed round. January 2022.
App Radar — AI-powered software to help mobile games be discovered in app stores
HQ: Graz, Austria. €2m seed round, January 2022.
Nware — cloud gaming platform
HQ: Madrid, Spain. €1.1m seed round, January 2022.
Tim Smith is Sifted’s Iberia correspondent. He tweets from @timmpsmith