PlayFab has secured $2.5 million in seed funding. The firm’s investors include Larry Bowman of Bowman Capital Management and Startup Capital Ventures. Based in Seattle, PlayFab is a provider of tools for building and managing online games.
SEATTLE — PlayFab, Inc., the industry’s most comprehensive cloud-based provider of tools and services for building and managing online games, announced today it has closed a $2.5 million seed round. The financing coincides with the commercial launch and immediate availability of the company’s full solution addressing the needs of customers ranging from indie developers to major game publishers, allowing them to focus on creating great games – rather than reinventing the services needed to succeed in today’s crowded market.
PlayFab’s investors include Larry Bowman of Bowman Capital Management, an early investor in PopCap Games; Startup Capital Ventures, an early stage fund focused on cloud services; and prominent angels including Scott Banister, IronPort Co-founder/CTO; Jason Kapalka, PopCap co-founder; Chris Carvalho, former COO of mobile gaming company Kabam; Patrick Wyatt, founder of Arena.net and former CTO of NCSoft; and John Spinale, a long-time game executive who has run studios at Disney, OnLive, Eidos, and Activision. The company is using this initial funding to expand its team and invest in its best-of-breed services that reinvent the way game developers and publishers build, scale, operate, manage, and monetize games.
“The game industry is going through a radical transformation, from packaged games to ‘games as a service,’ but so far this revolution has been led by technology-heavy companies focused more on monetization and acquisition than fun,” stated James Gwertzman, founder and CEO of PlayFab. “Our mission is to raise the bar by arming the most creative game talent with state-of-the-art technologies and tools. We want them to be able to focus on fun, yet still be competitive in today’s market. I saw firsthand at PopCap just how hard it is to compete as a studio committed to quality in this new world order. I want all those creative teams out there to know that PlayFab’s got their back.”
The launch of PlayFab’s service is bolstered by an exclusive deal with Exit Games, which will give PlayFab’s customers full access to the entire suite of Photon Server products, currently used by over 80,000 game developers worldwide, for no additional charge. These will be tightly integrated with the PlayFab service in coming months.
To reach game developers where they are, PlayFab is providing support for all leading game engines on the market, including Unity, Unreal, Cocos2d-x, and Xamarin. “The need for a robust service like PlayFab is clear,” said Lei Zhang, general manager at Chukong, maker of the Cocos2d-x engine, the most widely used game engine in China. “Thanks to widespread adoption of tools like Cocos2d-x, no developer today would dream of building their own game engine. But today, game developers still need to spend too much of their time re-inventing server technologies, time that they could otherwise spend on their games. We look forward to a long partnership with PlayFab and integrating its services directly into Cocos Studio.”
A key part of the PlayFab offering is the PlayFab Game Manager, which gives all members of a game team a single collaboration point for operating a game once it goes live. It has specific features to support roles such as customer support, marketing, analytics, and product management.
“It used to be that when you launched a game, you were done,” said Jason Kapalka, co-founder and former chief creative officer of PopCap. “Now with games-as-services, that’s just the starting point — and often the quality of your game management tools determines whether your game will succeed or fail. How effectively can your creative team analyze what’s going on, make adjustments, and see the results of those changes? Most studios barely have time to build their back-end, let alone invest in great operations tools. Having a complete solution ready out-of-the-box from PlayFab should make a big difference, especially for smaller studios.”
PlayFab is built on the UberNet technology, which has been in continuous operation for more than 3 years since its original development by Uber Entertainment. As UberNet, the service powered 3 different games into the top 10 on Steam.
Now renamed as PlayFab and with its offerings greatly expanded, it has already been adopted by Blue Planet Software, the exclusive agent for the Tetris® brand, and more than a dozen other mobile and PC game studios. To evaluate PlayFab, and immediately start integrating its services, developers can visit playfab.com to create a free account and get started.
PlayFab’s mix-and-match services include:
Game Manager tools for live operations
Cross-platform player accounts
Server-validated, in-game purchases
Multiplayer game server hosting
Virtual goods management
Game server auto-scaling
Robust analytics (with optional export to business intelligence tools like Tableau)
Leaderboards and friends lists
“I’ve built back-ends for many games in my career, and it’s hard to get them right,” said Patrick Wyatt, ArenaNet co-founder, former VP of Blizzard, and PlayFab advisor and investor. “The game industry is ripe for the kind of back-end services that PlayFab is providing, which are going to make building reliable online games a whole lot easier and faster.”
Based in Seattle, WA, PlayFab provides the industry’s most comprehensive back-end service for building and managing online games. The company was founded by James Gwertzman, PlayFab CEO who previously served as vice president of PopCap, where he built a profitable online, free-to-play business for the company in China. PlayFab offers a wide range of licensing plans to meet the diverse needs of its customers, ranging from free offerings for indie developers to enterprise-level plans for major publishers. The company is funded by notable investors from the game and online industries. For more information, visit PlayFab at playfab.com.