Mail.ru Group, an LSE-listed Russian Internet company, announced the creation of a new division to invest in game development, technology and marketing worldwide.
“Up to $100 million” is allocated to this investment program, of which $10 million has already been spent for the first deals, which have not been disclosed.
The group targets “accomplished game studios and publishers that need funding for scaling, as well as young game developers,” using a variety of investment strategies from venture financing, to royalty investments, to acquisitions.
In addition to receiving funding, the partners will benefit from the global publishing opportunities offered by Mail.Ru Group and its internationally-oriented subsidiary My.com. They will also be able to “leverage [the group’s] software solutions, extensive analytics and unique marketing opportunities on a global scale,” said Ilya Karpinsky, Director of Games Investment Division at Mail.Ru Group.
A sizeable player on the global gaming scene
Mail.Ru Group opened its own game division back in 2007. “We united top Russian gaming studios and teams and became the number one gaming business in Russia with an almost 45% share of local gaming market,” Karpinsky told East-West Digital News.
Thus at that time the group acquired controlling stakes in Nival Online, IT Territory, TimeZero, and NIKITA which were merged into the Astrum Online Entertainment and ultimately organized as the group’s gaming unit.
Now Mail.Ru Group’s portfolio includes more than 50 MMOs, social and mobile games. Among the most succesful ones are Skyforge, Legend: Legacy of the Dragons, Allods Online, Lovely Farm, Evolution: Battle for Utopia, Jungle Heat, Warface, ArcheAge, Perfect World and others.
According to Karpinsky, the group’s games attract a total audience of more than 95 million users all over the world, the better part coming from Russia and Russian-speaking countries, Europe and North America.
In 2016, the company’s MMO games revenue grew 21.2% year-on-year to 11.39 billion (some $170 million) on a pro forma basis.
Mail.Ru Group’s latest investment in the gaming industry took place in October 2016 with Pixonic, a Moscow-based mobile game developer and publisher, being acquired for $30 million.
Last month Alibaba teamed up with Mail.Ru Group among other partners to establish the “Global Strategic Alliance of Game Distribution.” The alliance aims to enhance mobile game distribution between China and Russia, Europe, Japan, the Middle East and the USA, and to optimize local users’ gaming experience.