Start-up financing secured for online gaming development

SERIAL GAMES entrepreneurs Hugh Reynolds and Dr Steven Collins have successfully completed a €2.7 million seed funding round for their latest start up Swrve.

It provides tools for games designers to test and adjust their online games by monitoring game players.

Reynolds and Trinity College academic Collins were also the co-founders of Havok, a company that produces tools for creating realistic effects in games. Havok was bought by Intel in 2007 for €80 million. The following year they set up Kore Virtual Machines in 2008, which in turn was acquired by Havok last year.

Less than a year old, Swrve attracted a mix of Irish and American investors and funds, including Intel Capital, Initial Capital, SV Angel, the AIB Seed Capital Fund (Enterprise Equity), the AIB Startup Accelerator Fund, Bank of Ireland Start Up and Emerging Sectors Equity Fund 2010 (Delta Partners), Mochi Media founders, Enterprise Ireland and others.

“This funding round allows us to have a good long runway ahead of us to build this platform,” said Dr Collins, who is Swrve’s chief technology officer. Mr Reynolds is chief executive officer.

“With these investors, we also got some great connections and some great advisers.”

Dr Collins said the idea for Swrve came about last January, and by June, the company had a functioning prototype. Initial funding came from proceeds from the sale of Kore. Some of the original investors in Kore also invested in the new company, he said.

Dr Collins said Swrve “is designed to provide games developers with tools to manage their games as a service”. Using the cloud-based service, developers can monitor gamers as they play, helping the developers to evolve and improve games over time.

“They can track what users are doing and see if they’re finding certain parts of the game too difficult, or are enjoying them, or see where they’re buying things or not buying things, and change the game accordingly. You allow the game to adapt to how certain users are playing it,” he said.

The service is part of an emerging model of game development where “developers are now connected directly to the consumer, and there’s no middle man.”

Swrve has offices in Dublin and San Francisco. The engineering team is based in Ireland with sales, support and marketing in California. The decision to keep the engineering team in Ireland was based on better access to potential employees, he said.

“We are able to find great talent here, whereas it’s far more competitive and difficult to find developers out in Silicon Valley.”

The company, which currently has 15 employees, will use the funding for engineering and product development.

Dr Collins said that Swrve would be looking for additional engineers in Ireland on the back of the investment.

Swrve supports game development on a variety of online platforms, ranging from Apple’s iPhone to Facebook, web or smart TV platforms.

“As more and more games move online, Swrve’s analytics platform will enable game operators to deliver increasingly targeted content to every player,” Lisa Lambert, vice-president, Intel Capital, said in a statement.

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