“We’re a developer and a publisher trying to make triple A games that fit the digital lifestyle, are instantly accessible from anywhere, free to try, don’t require a PhD to control, and that you can play for a short session length. It’s an Activision Blizzard meets Zynga model.” That’s how CEO Greg Richardson describes his new gaming company Rumble, which just closed a $15 million Series A round from Google Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Rumble will build its own titles for the web, mobile, and social. It will also invest in and publish games from third-party developers through its system which provides analytics, CRM, and distribution across devices and platforms. This allows partnered developers to concentrate solely on building great games. With top industry talent, wise investors, solid funding, and a mission to bring console game quality where it’s not usually, Rumble is looking to disrupt game companies overly focused on manipulative monetization.
Rumble was founded earlier this year on a few million dollars in seed funding. Richardson knows what it takes to build a serious gaming company. He was CEO of BioWare/Pandemic when it sold to Electronic Arts for $860 million in 2007, and was an Executive in Residence at Elevation Partners. He has recruited some incredible gaming industry heavyweights, including Mark Spenner, VP and GM of EA2D (now BioWare SF), John Yoo, designer of World of Warcraft and lead designer of CityVille, and Paul Robinson, lead engineer of Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk. Rick Thompson, founder and Chairman of Playdom, is also an investor and will sit on Rumble’s board.
Despite funding from Google Ventures, Rumble won’t be favoring Google+. It won’t be betting on Facebook’s HTML5 mobile app platform either, though. “We’re excited about anyone investing in ecosystems that are going to help people find great games and people to play with. However, for the kind of games we’re building, HMTL5 is not yet a valid option, but we believe it will be in coming years” says Richardson. Goole Ventures and Khosla Ventures seem to see eye to eye, considering it was announced this morning that they both just invested in social TV platform Miso.
Richardson believe the current gaming ecosystem is split in two with room for innovation in the middle. Most companies are building either overly simple free-to-play casual games optimized around addiction and monetization, or they’re building pay-up-front high quality console and PC games. He tells me “There are still wonderful console games, but that market has stagnated in its growth because people look at the controller with 22 buttons, see the investment in time is significant, and that they can only play from their living room on a $60 game and a $300 console.”
He believes that by applying the deep focus on immersive design of premium games and distributing them as free-to-play games on iOS, Android, Facebook, and other social networks, Rumble will be able to reach serious gamers but through ubiquitous platforms. “We’re not building causal games. The majority of our users are going to be men under the age of 35. We think these people have a taste for rich experiences” Richardson tells me. There’s also apparently little competition in the publishing space for these types of games. By investing in and distributing ambitious mobile and social titles, Rumble could get a piece of the next big indie game blockbuster.
The $15 million will go towards finishing its publishing platform, investing in great third-party game developers, and finishing the two games it’s already building. Richardson concludes, “Our games are going to harken back to your favorite console game, but in a place where those kinds of games haven’t been seen much.”