Video-Game Developer ProbablyMonsters Raises $200 Million
(Bloomberg) -- ProbablyMonsters Inc., a game developer founded by former Bungie executive Harold Ryan, pulled off what it said is the largest first round of venture capital financing in the video-game industry.
The $200 million funding was led by LKCM Headwater Investments, the private equity arm of Fort Worth, Texas-based Luther King Capital Management.
ProbablyMonsters previously raised $18.8 million in 2019 from family and friends, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, affiliates of Luther King and former Activision Blizzard Inc. Executive Vice President David Oxford. The company didn’t disclose its valuation.
The Bellevue, Washington-based business was founded in 2016. It has approximately 230 employees working on three announced video game titles. In April, the company said that Sony Interactive Entertainment will be the exclusive publishing partner for one of its games.
“It’s proof beyond our resume that what we are doing is real,” Ryan, who is chief executive officer, said in an interview.
One of ProbablyMonsters’ three announced studios, Firewalk, is developing a multiplayer game that will be distributed by Sony. Another is working on a single-player adventure game, and the third is creating a role-playing title that will bring players together.
Firewalk Studios is headed by Tony Hsu, previously general manager and senior vice president for the Destiny business at Activision. Another studio is headed by Dave Matthews, formerly lead character artist at Sony Computer Entertainment of America and art director at Bungie and Monolith Productions.
Bungie, where Ryan worked for 16 years ending in 2016, developed games such as the Halo series for Microsoft Corp. and Destiny for Activision.
The ProbablyMonsters name was created in response to the many questions employees encountered about what their games would be about. “We started answering, so we don’t have to answer, we are probably putting monsters in our games,” Ryan said.
Will there be monsters? “Probably there will be, I can’t confirm or deny at this point,” he said.
While many companies -- most notably, Amazon.com Inc. -- have tried to produce blockbuster console titles unsuccessfully, Ryan says he’s confident he can pull it off because of the company culture he is building. While some industry heavyweights battle questions about a culture of harassment, Ryan said he’s working to shape ProbablyMonsters as a company where developers will want to spend their entire careers.
“I’ve always been the leader that put my people first, and seeking to build a place where people can thrive, and be and feel safe, is critical,” he said. The company is growing its staff at about 50% a year. It has been cash-flow positive thanks to a series of early work and deals with strategic partners.
The new funding round could accelerate the company’s release schedule and increase benefits for employees, Ryan said.
“It will potentially accelerate the deliveries of the games, support the teams better, build stronger connections between our games and our audience,” Ryan said.
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