Tuesday 17 July 2018

Candy Crush 'guru' wins Google Ventures' first investment in mainland Europe

Tommy Palm
Tommy Palm

Lauren Davidson

The "Games Guru" behind Candy Crush Saga has secured the largest funding round to date for a virtual reality (VR) games developer and landed Google Ventures' first European investment outside the UK.

Resolution Games has raised $6m from the tech giant's venture capital arm, which is independently operated. as well as from Spotify backer Creandum, Supercell investor Initial Capital, Toca Boca funder Bonnier Growth Media, and Partech Ventures, whose portfolio includes Made.com.

The virtual reality entertainment business was founded by chief executive Tommy Palm, who joined King in 2012, when the company acquired his mobile start-up Fabrication Games.

He is credited with transforming Candy Crush Saga from a web game to a mobile obsession, which helped King raise $500m when it floated in New York last year in the US' largest ever mobile gaming IPO.

Resolution Games launched its first game in June. Solitaire Jester, which is available for the Samsung Gear VR, the South Korean company's virtual reality headset, allows the user to play the card game in a virtual fireplace-lit study. It has been downloaded 4,000 times, according to Recode.

Mr Palm said the company is sitting on seven prototype games and plans to release a fishing-themed game in early 2016.

The Stockholm-based company said it will use the funding to produce more games at a faster rate and to continue hiring "from within Sweden's rich games development talent pool".

Resolution Games claims this is the largest ever funding round raised by a VR games developer.

There is an increasing amount of investment activity in the area. Facebook acquired the virtual reality headset maker Oculus last year for $2bn and has made a series of smaller purchases since.

In October, Google led a $542m funding round for Magic Leap, the glasses that project an image onto the user's eyes, and six months later the virtual reality app store Wear VR raised $1.5m.

In the last month, Tencent led a $10m investment for AltspaceVR, which creates a virtual social environment, and Avegant, the maker of the Glyph headset, raised $24m in its second funding round.

"VR is the next big gaming platform," said Joe Kraus, general partner at Google Ventures. "The pace of development in VR will be very high over the next five years, with mobile VR at the forefront because anyone with a smartphone has the core of a VR experience already in their pocket.

"Tommy and his team have a proven track record of game development and successful entrepreneurship, and we’re excited about what Resolution Games is going to do."

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