TheGamingEconomy’s Daily Digest brings you the prevalent business stories in gaming. In today’s news: Facebook to launch gaming app; Republic acquires Fig; and Sega shutters two former Demiurge titles.
Facebook to launch gaming app
Facebook Gaming will launch a dedicated streaming app today, with the aim of seizing greater market share from Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer, according to a reports published on Sunday (19th April). The free-to-download app will, initially, feature no advertising, and will instead be monetised through commission from viewer donations to streamers. At the time of the initial reports discussing the launch, the app had yet to be approved for release across the iOS, with App Store policies on broadcasting footage from third-party apps a potential snag in Facebook’s release plans.
The app launch marks the latest in a series of efforts from Facebook to develop its gaming offering, having launched an esports tournament platform earlier in April, which is likely to be incorporated within the new app. Facebook also has been undertaking an acquisition drive in the sector, having purchased VR developer Sanzaru Games and cloud gaming platform PlayGiga in February and December respectively. Earlier this month, Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet estimated that hours watched through the Facebook Gaming platform have proliferated significantly from 2019, up 236% to 563.7 million.
Speaking to the New York Times, Facebook Vice President for Gaming Vivek Sharma spoke on why the social media giant was pursuing mobile for its streaming services, rather than the desktop PC platforms favoured by its rivals. We don’t want to be the background window in a Chrome tab while someone is doing their homework or doing something else. “With mobile, if you have the app open and you’re using the app, it’s in the foreground. You can’t do anything else on your mobile phone, and that is extremely powerful.”
Republic acquires Fig
Startup investment platform Republic has purchased indie games crowdfunding platform Fig for an undisclosed sum. The acquired platform will continue to operate as a separate offering, with funding opportunities promoted to Republic subscribers via email. Over 40 titles have been funded through Fig, most notably BAFA award-winner Outer Wilds (Mobius Digital-Annapurna Interactive), with maximum ROI of 565%. The acquisition represents a successful exit for Fig’s venture backers, including Greycroft, Spark Capital, Draft Ventures, Resolute Venture Partners, and Next View Ventures, which have funded the company by USD$7.8m (£6.2m), with the most recent round falling in January 2017.
Fig founder Justin Bailey, who will join Republic as an operating advisor, commented, “Joining Republic means more investors, more ambitious games, greater exposure, and the opportunity for higher returns. I’m ecstatic Republic contacted me and excited about how this acquisition will further aid us in our mission to empower independent developers.”
Sega shutters two former Demiurge titles
Sega has announced that it will be shuttering two mobile titles, Sega Heroes and Crazy Taxi Tycoon, following its sale of Demiurge, the studio which developed the games. The titles will cease operation on 21st May, while in-app purchases have already been deactivated. At this stage it is unclear whether a third Demiurge-developed title, Marvel Puzzle Quest, will also be shuttered or if Sega will continue supporting its operation.
As previously reported in TheGamingEconomy, Demiurge was bought out earlier in the April by its co-founder Albert Reed and his investment partner Geoffrey Hyatt. A statement released at the time confirmed that the studio will return to operating as a support partner for AAA developers, its role prior to the acquisition by Sega in 2015. The statement reads, “We can’t be more excited to embark on this new yet familiar adventure as we return to Demiurge’s foundation. We will continue our unrivalled tradition of partnering with world-class game developers and publishers to release fantastic games that players love.”