Scopely invests $20 million in casual game maker Burlingame Studios

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Scopely has invested $20 million in Burlingame Studiosa new game studio launched by veterans of casual games.

Chris McGill, CEO of Burlingame Studios, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the team already numbers around 20-30 people, depending on how you count full-time employees and contractors. The studio will focus on casual mobile games, he said.

Many veterans are Glu and CrowdStar alumni. The latter created the successful free-to-play game Design Home as well as Covet Fashion.

The deal is one of many moves made by Los Angeles-based Scopely, which has been busy raising funds and investing heavily in gaming talent. In October, Scopely bought GSN, the maker of the game Wheel of Fortune, to Sony for $1 billion.

McGill said Burlingame Studios considers Scopely a partner because Scopely owns a group of game studios as well as its Playgami technology platform to create and optimize mobile games.

“As with Design Home, we’re making apps that have game mechanics, and they’re for people who don’t consider themselves gamers,” McGill said.

The founders of Burlingame Studios (who created popular games for women).

Games like Design Home are the foundation of the company, but not necessarily an indication of what it does, he said.

“We think we’re actually expanding the game pie rather than fighting for the limited number of people who consider themselves gamers,” he said.

Scopely’s ecosystem aims to build gaming teams with “incredible talent density where traditional boundaries between developer and publisher are eliminated.”

McGill most recently served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Glu Mobile. Glu acquired CrowdStar in 2017 and Electronic Arts gobbled up Glu for an enterprise value of $2.4 billion in 2021.

McGill co-founders are Jose Avila, Barlow Gilmore, Brandon Jones and Scott Cuthbertson. Now, I’m not sure exactly how this bunch of guys specialized in making casual games that are widely consumed by women or people who don’t consider themselves gamers. But there is no doubt that the games were successful.

The team is based in Burlingame but has members as far away as Guatemala and Argentina.

“It’s basically a great group of people. It’s a mix of people I’ve worked with for a long time and we’re like family, and we have new blood and we’re really excited after being on the sidelines for a little while,” McGill said. “It’s just fun to start creating again. I’m super happy with it.

Scopely has also invested in blockchain game company Animoca Brands; IndiGG, a sub-DAO of Yield Guild Games; and Polygon, a decentralized Ethereum scaling platform; and game studios around the world such as Tag Games and Pixel Toys.

As for choosing Scopely, McGill said the startup had plenty of funding options.

“Ultimately, Scopely was an obvious choice,” he said. “It was a clear winner.”

He’s known Scopely’s co-CEOs, Walter Driver and Javier Ferreira, for a long time, and he knows their creative process and skills in centralized infrastructure and user acquisition. As for the amount raised, McGill said it gives the company a lot of leverage.

Tim O’Brien, chief revenue officer at Scopely, said in a statement: “We are proud to invest in this group of game creators who are deeply committed to creating the best possible experiences and delighted that they have chosen us as their partner of choice. We believe our ecosystem is extremely unique and are always energized when new partners see the value in our infrastructure and technology – especially our Playgami platform – to make their fun and creative gameplay a great business. Today marks a bright future for collaboration, and we’re excited to be working with Chris and his team.

As FYI, I’m going to SXSW next week and will be hosting a panel with Scopely and Paramount on the creation of Star Trek Fleet Command.

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