September 21, 2021
Image: 1047 Games
This week in Protocol Gaming, your weekly guide to the business of video games: understanding Splitgate's massive valuation, the latest developments in the Activision Blizzard saga, and the aftermath of Epic v. Apple.
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Splitgate became the talk of the game industry this summer after the free-to-play shooter exploded in popularity in similar fashion to indie viral sensations like Among Us and Fall Guys. All the buzz led to 1047 Games' announcement last week that it had secured $100 million in funding at a $1.5 billion valuation.
Becoming a unicorn in a matter of months is just the latest unbelievable turn of events for CEO and co-founder Ian Proulx and his small development team, which first soft launched Splitgate two years ago and slowly refined it on PC before it arrived on console this summer. Proulx chatted with Protocol last week about the journey from early access and how his team intends to use the influx of capital to grow his startup into a major game development studio.
So what's Splitgate's secret? In an ironic twist, it was 1047's utter failure to keep up with player demand that ultimately piqued the interest of investors. Proulx told me the company's back end wasn't equipped for the influx of new players, and the game had to be pulled offline in late July just weeks after its official beta launch.
The Splitgate team isn't shy about copying. 1047 Games has never tried to hide its influences, even advertising the game as "Halo meets Portal." Some players may find it shameless or unoriginal, but the straightforward marketing has helped Splitgate cut through the noise.
Why so much for yet another shooter? The game industry underwent extreme growth last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in record levels of funding, mergers and acquisitions this year as money pours into new gaming ventures and industry consolidation has picked up. But investor fervor isn't the only reason. In Splitgate, investors see something unique.
Proulx said the immediate future for Splitgate involves building out the team and turning an engineering division of five people into one of 30. Characterizing the scope of the game going forward, Proulx said he thinks of it as 25% done, with a lot of room to keep growing. And 1047 will have to do just that if it's to avoid a post-viral slump that could doom Splitgate's chances at long-term viability.
"Technically, we're still in beta and there's a reason. Originally, it was because of servers. But the reason now is that my vision of the fully launched Splitgate is very different from what it looked like two months ago," he said. "Our attitude is: The sky's the limit."
A version of this story originally appeared on Protocol.com.
As of February 2021, roughly one year into the pandemic, the urgency around obtaining location intelligence had skyrocketed, with one survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group finding that 95% of executives view geospatial data/mapping as important to getting business results.
Amazon Game Studios is preparing to release its new massively multiplayer online game, New World, on Sept. 28 — for real this time. The game has seen four delays since the start of 2020, but the team is now gearing up for the official launch, starting first with an open beta that's running through Sunday.
Knowing the state of the modern game industry — EA delayed Battlefield 2042 by one month last week — we can't rule out a last-minute change of plans. But all signs are looking good for New World's on-time arrival.
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