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Deal Radar 2008: Realtime Worlds

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 2nd 2008

Realtime Worlds is an entertainment software company that produces hit video games like Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown and Lemmings. Their latest game is the community-based All Points Bulletin (APB), which is expected to be released soon. The company is also currently developing new software technology that will have applications in various other industries. It was founded in 2002 and is based in Dundee, Scotland. They also have offices in Boulder, Colorado and Seoul, South Korea. Realtime Worlds is the largest independent game producer in Scotland.

The company has raised approximately $83 million so far: a $1.75 million Series A led by the CIM Fund in May 2004; an almost $33 million Series B in December 2006 led by Maverick Capital and with New Enterprise Associates (NEA); and a $50 million Series C led by Maverick Capital in March of this year.

The company is headed by Dave Jones, who is CEO and creative director. Other key people are Tony Harman, president and Ian Hetherington, chairman and chief strategy officer. There are about 225 employees worldwide.

Their latest product, All Points Bulletin (APB), is expected to be released in 2008 and could generate millions in revenue. In this city-based community game, players can choose to be either the criminals or the people who catch the criminals. APB has been developed in partnership with Webzen, a Korean company. Realtime Worlds’ other popular game, Crackdown, was released in 2007 exclusively to Xbox 360. In this game, characters have special skills which allow them to climb buildings, transform cars into super vehicles, and perform extraordinary feats.

Today, virtual worlds are all around and companies like IBM and Google have also launched their versions. IBM bridged their virtual world with Second Life, another extremely popular game. According to TechCrunch, Virtual Worlds Management reported that $161 million has been put into 14 virtual world investments during the second quarter of 2008. The first quarter of 2008 saw over $184 million invested in this industry, bringing the total so far to $345 million.

In 2008 Crackdown was nominated for Best Debut by GDC awards. In 2007, the company was nominated in seven categories at Develop Magazine’s Industry Excellence Awards. They won for Innovation and New UK/European Studio. At the 2007 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Video Games Awards, Crackdown won in two categories, Action and Adventure and Use of Audio.

The virtual worlds and gaming industry is growing rapidly. There was a time in the venture capital industry when investors shied away from “hits” businesses like games and movies. Today, clearly, the gaming category has overcome that barrier and is drawing serious fund flow. Perhaps, film is going to follow as an investment category for investors as well. Meanwhile, companies like Realtime Worlds are enjoying a well-deserved renewal.

Related Readings:

* Twenty-first Century’s Best Venture
* The Timer
* Future Of Cinema

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2008


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