On Tuesday, Kepler Interactive, a game publisher co-owned and controlled by creators, said that it had received $120 million in funding from NetEase Inc., a Chinese gaming company (9999. HK).
The group, which includes Alpha Channel and Sloclap among its members, intends to provide game studio founders the opportunity to become co-owners, share resources, and financial rewards while remaining in command of their own studios.
“We have a studio committee, which meets on a weekly basis, they get involved in major company decisions, but they don’t get involved in individual studio decisions, so the studios remain independent,” CEO Alexis Garavaryan said in an interview.
Embracer (EMBRACb.ST), a Swedish company, used a similar approach in which it bought companies but gave their creators complete creative and operational independence to run them independently. Embracer has grown to become Europe’s largest video game firm thanks to this concept.
Kepler will have operating bases in London and Singapore, with teams scattered across ten countries, with a 2022 slate of games including Sifu, a third-person action game, Scorn, a first-person survival horror adventure video game, and Tchia, an open-world adventure game.
Garavaryan would not reveal the company’s valuation but did say NetEase will be a minority investor. According to gaming analytics firm Newzoo, the global games business will produce $175.8 billion in 2021 and will surpass $200 billion in 2023. Currently, the company’s studios are focused on PC and console games, but it may consider bringing in teams that specialize in mobile games and animations.
“There are conversations about expansion so we have had talks about bringing an animation studio so that we can adapt some of our properties into animated series,” said Garavaryan.