thatgamecompany founder Jenova Chen has repeatedly been at the forefront of change within games. First leading an indie revolution on console, then building a blockbuster multiplayer title on mobile, Jenova’s vision for games as a medium and his dedication to craft have inspired many around the industry and around the world.
Now, ten years after the launch of the critically acclaimed adventure title, Journey, thatgamecompany has announced they have raised $160 million in funding for the next step in the studio’s own adventure. The co-founder of Pixar, Ed Catmull, will be joining the extended team for this chapter as principal adviser on creative culture and strategic growth. In his words,“Thatgamecompany is a driving force for the advancement of games’ deeper emotional impact. I’m honored that Jenova and the studio have asked me to share my learnings on building an enduring creative culture befitting its ambition to provide enriching and accessible interactive experiences for a worldwide audience.”
thatgamecompany became an industry darling as the studio’s high-concept titles Flower and Flow found their mark with a growing audience. This reputation was further solidified by the launch of Journey, a 3d non-combat adventure critically-lauded for its incredible art direction, gorgeous soundtrack, and revolutionary take on drop-in/drop-out multiplayer.
When the studio announced their next project would be a free-to-play mobile title, this came as a surprise to many and skeptics eager to play down the rise of mobile gaming were quick to naysay this vision. Today, thatgamecompany’s Sky: Children of Light has been downloaded more than 160 million times globally across all available platforms and currently has nearly seven million daily active players. Widely lauded as “a must-play game” thanks to its positive, socially-connected gameplay, Sky has amassed a huge community of fans around the world seeking a shared, calming play experience.
A significant part of the massive success of Sky comes from the game’s launch in China, one year after Sky’s initial release on iOS in North America. In partnership with NetEase, Chinese players were able to take flight on both Apple and Android devices and by July 2020, Sky had gained more than 15 million installs driven largely by that region as well as the launch of an accompanying new season of content. Within months of debuting there, Sky became one of the top three highest grossing iOS games in China, supported by virtual YouTuber Kizuna Ai. This rapid growth in players did not stop with Sky’s download count reaching 50 million in October 2020, 100 million in June 2021, and now 160 million in March of 2022.
Congratulations to Jenova and team for the successful funding round enabling you all to continue to delight the world with your groundbreaking interactive experiences! My partners and I at Transcend look forward to what new adventures lie ahead and are excited to continue being a part of your journey.
About Transcend Fund
The Transcend Fund is an early stage venture capital firm that partners with some of the most ambitious and talented founders in the game industry to collaboratively build the future of digital entertainment.
Founded in San Francisco by gaming veterans, Transcend Fund operates remotely with team members around the world. Our portfolio features a range of high growth digital entertainment companies including thatgamecompany, Possibility Space, Polygon, Singularity 6, Laguna Games, Gardens, IndiGG, Big Run, C2X, Nifty Games, Treehouse Games, Stress Level Zero, Maestro, Fun Country, Arcadia, Trioscope, Bunch, Heroic Story, Kings of Games, Spatial, Goss, and several additional exciting but unannounced new ventures.
About Shanti Bergel
Shanti is the founding partner of Transcend and a 30 year game industry veteran.
His global operating experience spans every major platform and business model transition of the last several decades and is animated by a career-long fascination with how changes in technology and distribution affect products, services, and communities.
Shanti is a recognized member of the Techcrunch List, speaks fluent Japanese, and is a frequent speaker on early stage investment, M&A, and strategic partnerships in digital entertainment.