Mojiworks is a new UK startup building games for iMessage

Mojiworks, new startup from the founders of Wonderland, the UK gaming startup acqui-hired by Zynga back in 2011, is on a mission to turn Apple’s iMessage into a social gaming platform.

The company created MojiQuest, its first game, shortly after iOS 10 was released in order to test the market and “get early validation,” Mojiworks co-founder and CEO Matthew Wiggins tells me. The plan now is to build a portfolio of games across a variety of genres to rapidly understand the market and create new forms of play that “chat relationships” enable.

To hit the road map running, Mojiworks has raised a seed round led by Copenhagen-based Sunstone Capital, and Helsinki-based Lifeline Ventures. The latter counts Ilkka Paananen, CEO of Supercell, as a partner. Angel investor Nikolaj Nyholm also participated in the round.

“We see the relationships that people have on messaging services to be deeper and more personal than traditional social networks,” says Wiggins. “We believe that play on those platforms will be a magnitude more meaningfully social than Facebook and open up real social play to a whole new audience in a way that fits into their mobile lives, of which chat is a massive part”.

To that end, Mojiworks’ first title is a collaborative battle game that sees you come together with your friends to battle monsters. I’m told it was made in 60 days from scratch using proprietary tech the startup built solely for iMessage.

On what could be next, the Mojiworks CEO says that competitive games are an obvious fit, such as casual sports, word games, and battling, but believes that collaboration is likely to work even better and fits the close-personal model that messaging allows.

“A tight group of friends playing together to achieve something, that competes against all the other groups playing the game. We have 25 game concepts around these ideas,” he says.

Competitor-wise, the largest entrant in the nascent messaging gaming space is Zynga who have launched a Words With Friends iMessage extension and Wiggins expects them to follow up with multiple titles early in 2017.

He also thinks the likes of King will soon jump in, and notes a number of small indie games developers are also developing games for iMessage. “We’re the only startup dedicated to building a multi-title publisher/developer of scale on iMessage and chat,” he adds.