EVE Online Maker CCP Games Raises $20M

CCP Games, the Iceland-headquartered company behind the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game EVE Online, says it has raised $20 million in new funding.

The funding comes in the form of convertible bonds raised from Icelandic institutional investors, according to Chief Financial Officer Joe Gallo. Founded in 1997, CCP previously raised $20 million in equity financing.

Back in February, CCP executives told me that EVE Online saw $66 million in revenue last year. Chief Marketing Officer David Reid says the company is now gearing up for the launch of its next title, the first-person shooter DUST 514, which is currently in beta testing and is supposedly on-track for a 2012 release on the Playstation 3.

With DUST, CCP is experimenting with a new model for console-based first-person shooters — the game will be free to play, with players instead paying for in-game goods. Perhaps even more impressive than the business model is the fact that the planet-based action of DUST will be integrated with the space setting of EVE Online, so that player activity in one game can affect the world of the other. The two games were kept separate for the initial player testing, but Reid says CCP is currently in the process of merging the two worlds, allowing players in both games to chat with each other and EVE players to cause some havoc in DUST through orbital strikes.

In part, the funding will be used to promote the DUST launch. Reid acknowledges that it’s going to be a crowded fall for video games, with a number of big releases like Halo 4 on the schedule. CCP doesn’t intend to “go head-to-head with EA and Activision,” but since the success of an online game doesn’t depend on driving a massive amount of first day sales, Reid says the company can take a more patient, long-term approach to its marketing campaign.

The launch is also coming after the disappointing performance of the highly anticipated MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. Reid points to The Old Republic as a sign that “players by-and-large are consuming the content of triple-A games faster than anybody is able to develop them.” He contrasts that design- and story-heavy approach with CCP’s philosophy in EVE and DUST, where the universe is more of a “sandbox” and “the players become the content in the end.”

In addition to launching DUST, Reid says the funding will allow CCP to prepare for an IPO. The company doesn’t have any immediate plans to go public, but he says the money “allows us is to do some of the things you need to do for IPO preparedness,” such as building greater redundancy into its computer systems, so that it’s ready to go public when and if the time is right.