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Firefly Games raises $10M to make Hollywood-based mobile games2016-08-12

Mobile game publisher Firefly Games has raised $10 million in a second round of funding to expand its efforts to make games based on Hollywood intellectual properties. The company said the round places Firefly’s valuation at $100 million.

Leading the round in the Los Angeles startup was China Construction Bank International Holdings, an arm of one of the big four banks in China. China Credit Limited Holdings also invested. Mobile gaming has become a $36 billion market globally, according to market researcher Newzoo. But fundings are increasingly rare for mobile game companies because of the cutthroat competition and dominance of bigger firms.

Firefly Games was founded in early 2015 by veteran game entrepreneurs Michael Zhang and Justin K.J. Lin as a business aimed at bridging East and West in mobile games. The company has a subsidiary in Shanghai, and it previously raised $8 million from Skyocean International Holdings, Ceyuan Ventures, and GuangZhou WinHi.


Above: Michael Zhang, CEO of Firefly Games

The company has spent some time developing a publishing infrastructure and bringing high-potential mobile titles from Asia to the West. Previous titles include Rush of Heroes, formerly known as I am MT2 in China and Dungeon Crash. The company intends to publish additional titles moving into 2017 and scale their executive management and staff on both sides of the Pacific to meet their projected goals.

“We see an expansion opportunity to diversify and leverage our current strengths into Hollywood IP, VR, and e-sports,” said Zhang, in a statement.

Firefly has already formed their first development team to begin production on a mobile game based on a major Hollywood intellectual property.

Outside of mobile, Firefly is looking to form a China-based VR publishing arm, bringing the best of VR content around the world to the East, while also continuing development on their esports social streaming app.

Joining the board of directors are members of CCB International, China Credit, Firefly Games’ Chief Strategy Officer Justin K.J. Lin, and Firefly China CEO Qinyan Hu. The company has 35 employees.

Firefly Games raises $8M to bring top Asian mobile games to the West Firefly Games wants to bridge the East West cultural divide. The Los Angeles startup is announcing today it has raised $8 million to bring top-grossing mobile games from Asia to the West..

That’s a large amount of money for a company that was founded last month by veteran game entrepreneurs Michael Zhang and KJ Lin. The move is part of a plan to identify another billion-dollar opportunity in mobile games, which is expected to be a $30 billion market in 2015.

Chinese investment firms Skyocean International Holdings, Ceyuan Ventures, and GuangZhou WinHi led the first round of funding.

Firefly said it plans to release four titles this year, and it has partnered with top Asian mobile game developers to distribute top grossing Asian titles to the Western markets. Firefly hopes it will create bigger hits by combining the best of the East and West, such as innovative game design, proven Western event systems (tournaments), and AAA content.

“We plan to bring a revolutionary approach to the way games are released that goes far beyond the standard localization currently seen in the App Stores.” said Michael Zhang, cofounder and CEO of Firefly Games, in a statement. “Furthermore, we will also develop a business intelligence vertical within our company to evaluate highly granular data points and continually improve our live operations.”

One of the titles that Firefly will publish in the West is Rising Heroes,a tactical strategy role-playing game which will debut in April. The game was created by China’s 4Inch. Firefly will also soon announce a licensing deal to publish games from a star developer in China.

The company will use the funding to acquire new titles, finance internal game development, and make strategic investments worldwide. Johnson Zhen, chief investment officer of Skyocean, said in a statement, “The mobile space is still in its infancy and Firefly Games is working to become one of the leading North American publishing companies for worldwide games.”

Firefly Games has 30 employees in Los Angeles and its Shanghai office.

“We expect there will be several billion dollar mobile game publishing companies and Firefly is definitely one with great potential!” said Guojun Chen, Partner of Ceyuan Ventures.

Zhang was formerly CEO of mobile game publisher ZQGame US, while Lin was vice president of operations there. They both left last October.

Rivals include all of the big Western game publishers like Zynga and Machine Zone. But companies that take Eastern style games and publish them in the west include Com2Us, Ucool, and Kabam.