Ahead of GDC later this month, Amazon has confirmed an acquisition that speaks to its ambitions to do more in the area of gaming — and specifically through offering platform tools for the games developer community. The company has acquired UK- and Ireland-based cloud gaming platform GameSparks — a “backend as a service” for game developers to build various features like leaderboards into games, and then manage them, all in the cloud.
We first broke news of this acquisition back in July 2017. At the time, we reported that the deal was done for around $10 million in the previous quarter. (Neither Amazon nor GameSparks would return our requests for comment when we originally published.)
“We’re excited to announce that GameSparks has been acquired by Amazon!” GameSparks notes. “GameSparks has long shared Amazon’s passion for helping developers create amazing gaming experiences, so it’s a natural fit. Being part of Amazon means we’ll continue to grow the service, as well as explore new ways to unlock the power of Amazon to help you build, operate, and monetize your games.” The company said it will be demoing its platform at Amazon’s booth at GDC.
It’s not clear why Amazon took so long to confirm the deal. It could have been because they were waiting for the next GDC, or that they finally decided to come clean and up its competitive game among developers after last month Microsoft announced it had acquired PlayFab, which competes against GameSparks.
As we’ve reported before, GameSparks was co-founded by Griffin Parry (CEO), Gabriel Page (CTO) and John Griffin (COO). The company lets game developers build “server-side capability” for their games by way of APIs and a cloud-based coding tool, and then manage those features after they are launched. Features that developers could build using GameSparks’ platform include leaderboards, real-time and turn-based multiplayer, notifications and player save data.
One notable detail is that GameSparks offers cross-platform compatibility and supports all major engines and stores including Unreal, Unity, PS4, XBOX, iOS, Google Play and Steam. Rovio, Ubisoft, Square Enix and Bandai Namco, as well as independent developers, are customers.
GameSparks raised only $820,000 from a small group of investors that included Enterprise Ireland (a government group that provides funding and support for Irish companies expanding internationally), and individual investors Jeff Allen, Joseph Murray and Paul Bushell.