London based Playfish has just raised a $17 million series B round led by Accel Partners and Index Ventures. Kevin Comolli, from Accel Partners and Ben Holmes from Index Ventures, will both join its board of directors. The company plans on putting the funds toward hiring for their 4 international offices and expanding their reach to other platforms.
The new round combined with a $3 million seed and $1 million bridge financing, makes Playfish one of three social gaming startups to take in $20 million or more in financing (Zynga – $39M, SGN – $20M). Playfish differs most from these competitors in its highly polished in-house game development. I’d call it the Wii of social gaming companies.
So why all the excitement? In uncertain economic times, social games have shown serious traction across platforms and a straight-forward revenue model. It’s also made social gaming an increasingly competitive space on social networks like Facebook. Playfish alone has grown to over 10 million monthly active users (around 1.7 million daily) and two billion monthly minutes of play time in under a year. Each of these users can be monetized through a combination of advertising, incentivized offers, or direct payments into the virtual economies on their applications. [Update: TechCrunch UK speculated it was the million-dollar Facebook app only last month].
While CEO Kristian Segerstrale would not mention any money metrics, he instead emphasized the growth opportunity in what many see as the frontier of video games, casual gaming for the common man. Unlike traditional video gaming, “people play our games with the same people that they would play cards, play board games or go bowling with in the real world”.