nWay, a San Francisco-based gaming startup from an experienced team of MMO-makers, just raised $5 million in funding led by TransLink Capital.
They also had participation from several of Silicon Valley’s better known micro-VCs and early-stage funds like Baseline Ventures’ Steven Anderson, Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee and Harrison Metal’s Michael Dearing. Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew, WI Harper Group, Zhen Fund, Bowana, and XG Ventures also joined the round.
Before starting nWay, CEO Taehoon Kim had racked up years of experience through building several gaming companies including one MMO maker called Nurien, that he eventually sold to CJ E&M. They were behind several social dance and fashion show titles.
He’s returning to the game-making world with a team that has worked on titles like Grand Theft Auto, Diablo II and Dead Space 2 & 3.
“We wanted to basically create what we thought were real games. Some games are very blurry with the line between social networking and gameplay,” he said.
The company’s main title ChronoBlade, is a title where a handful of hero characters battle to protect a Multi-verse, or a universe where multiple versions of Earth exist. The enemy army, the Chronarch Imperium, has advanced weaponry that it uses to destroy most worlds’ defenses. Players take on the role of one of four inter-dimensional heroes that have to keep the Chronarch Imperium at bay. Each of course has its own unique skill sets and specialties.
Right now, the game is just available on Facebook and on the new Android-based console Ouya. They’ll be launching a multi-player mode in three days. But nWay plans to have it work seamlessly across several platforms including consoles, PCs and mobile devices. Android and iOS should be coming in 2014.
But the reason the company has been able to attract investor interest in a tough climate for gaming startups is because of the team’s experience and because they’ve developed some back-end technology that should allow for 60-frame-per-second synchronous multiplayer game play.
“We think it will be breakthrough technology for twitch-based games that require low latency,” Kim said.
So far, Kim says that tests show players are spending at least 30 minutes on average. They haven’t turned on any monetization features at the moment, as the company is focused on retention rather than revenue at the moment.
The two-year-old company has raised about $11 million in total and has 34 employees. Jay Eum, a managing director at TransLink Capital will join Baseline’s Steve Anderson on the company’s board.