Mobile Gaming Company Pocket Gems Says It Reached $82M In Revenue Last Year

Sequoia Capital-backed mobile gaming company Pocket Gems is releasing revenue numbers for the first time, saying that it saw $82 million in revenue last year.

That’s a best for the company, which was founded in 2009, and reflects 32 percent year-over-year growth. Pocket Gems also says that it remains profitable and now has 175 employees.

The revenue comes primarily from in-app purchases. CEO Ben Liu said one of the keys to the company’s success has been its early focus on the free-to-play gaming model, with “very little advertising.” (According to an eMarketer report last year, full download fees remain the biggest source of revenue in the U.S. mobile games industry, but they’ll be overtaken by in-app purchases in 2014.)

Liu added that even though mobile gaming is one area of tech where Silicon Valley (and the rest of the United States) hasn’t been leading the way, “We think that’s about to change. We’re about to enter a period of major technological changes and disruptions where it’s going to be really hard to engineer the best products.”

In Pocket Gems’ case, he said the company will be launching a new 3D engine for multiplayer mobile games later this year.

More broadly, he said Pocket Gems is planning “a couple of big releases” that are meant to showcase its approach to two big questions: “What does it mean to experience a story on mobile?” and “What does it mean to play with your friends on mobile?” On the first question, Liu suggested that attempts at storytelling in mobile games have been “rudimentary.” On the second, he noted that the social mechanics in most mobile games are asynchronous or focused on promoting the game virally. (Pocket Gems’ is already placing a big emphasis on live multiplayer gameplay.)

The company announced last year that its titles, which include Tap Paradise Cove & Animal Voyage: Island Adventure (pictured above), had seen more than 100 million downloads.

Update: Pocket Gems says it now has 150 million downloads.