Overwolf raises $52.5M for its platform to build, distribute and monetize in-game user-generated content – TechCrunch

Roblox, the gaming firm that went public this month with a strong debut, modified the sport (so to converse) for the position that artistic enter can play in making a sport extra cherished, extra participating, and much more enterprising. Today, a startup that’s taking a model of that mannequin — centered on in-game apps and modifications — is saying some funding and the launch of a brand new toolkit to double down on that chance.

Today, a startup known as Overwolf, which has constructed a well-liked platform for gaming followers to construct modifications (mods) and extra instruments for all types of PC video games, is saying $52.5 million in development funding and the launch of a brand new content creation SDK — underscoring its development and extra particularly the demand out there to convey extra user-generated content variations into the gaming universe.

The firm’s platform has some 30,000 creators, 90,000 mods and add-ons, and 18 million month-to-month customers throughout 1000’s of video games, together with Fortnite, World of Warcraft and Minecraft. In the final yr, which has seen a surge of gaming exercise as extra individuals keep dwelling all through the pandemic, Overwolf’s income has grown by 300%, it mentioned.

“We want to be what YouTube is for YouTubers,” mentioned Uri Marchand, the CEO and co-founder of Tel Aviv-based Overwolf, in an interview with TechCrunch. “Just as YouTube is a one-stop shop for video, we want to be a one-stop shop for creating apps and mods.”

The Series C is being co-led by Insight Partners and Griffin Gaming Partners, a VC that specialists in gaming content. Other buyers within the spherical embody Ubisoft, Warner Music Group, Meg Whitman, and Gen.G Co-Founder, Kevin Chou. Valuation just isn’t being disclosed.

Importantly, alongside the funding, Overwolf is introducing a brand new service known as CurseForge Core, an SDK that may be built-in straight right into a sport itself to make it simpler for gaming fanatics and builders to construct user-generated content for it. CurseForge Core is basically the subsequent iteration of CurseForge, the mods platform that Overwolf acquired from Amazon’s Twitch last year for an undisclosed sum.

The purchaser and acquirer right here proceed to have an in depth relationship, whilst Overwolf additionally seems to be to work extra intently with others like Discord, which says one thing about what makes up the larger ecosystem of communication and exercise amongst players exterior of the core expertise of a sport itself.

Prior to launching this SDK, Overwolf already had constructed out a big group of customers — each on its personal steam and by means of its acquisition of CurseForge. While that’s completely centered on PC video games in the mean time, the plan shall be to develop its attain to different platforms, together with Macs, console video games and cellular gaming, within the subsequent yr.

The hole out there that Overwolf has recognized and constructed for is the demand from avid players for extra instruments to enhance their expertise of the sport, typically very particular ones which may not be core to everybody’s expertise however positively wished by sufficient individuals to benefit their creation.

These will be, for instance, maps to navigate your approach round a sport, or dashboards or leaderboards to hold higher monitor of assorted statistics of characters and different gamers, instruments to modify characters, or apps to talk with different gamers if you’re inside a sport. Marchand factors out that he first received into this world as a mod maker himself, years in the past making a Skype app for World of Warcraft years in the past.

“We pivoted from making mods to making a platform for others to make mods and additions,” he mentioned. “When you think about all the aspects that need to be addressed — they include telemetry, the interactive UI, analytics, installers — they can be very complicated. So we provided platform essentials to help developers figure it all out.”

While video games builders may need a really particular imaginative and prescient of how they want their video games to have a look at play, as Marchand described it to me, it’s additionally an enormous a part of PC gaming tradition to find a way to mess around with these experiences to make them distinctive to every participant. But dealing with the work of third-party ecosystems just isn’t usually of their core competencies.

“The scale and diversity of that content makes it impossible for a game maker to capture and do it all,” mentioned Marchand. “History has proven that while game makers would like to encourage UGC they can’t and that is why we exist.”

Even if constructing an SDK that sits inside video games themselves is a logical subsequent step, it additionally represents a form of elevated belief between Overwolf and video games publishers.

“Overwolf is developing the holy grail of frameworks for UGC for both publishers and in-game creators. Enabling all major publishers like us, to allow the creation of mods in a safe, secure, authorized, and profitable manner; is a game changer for all creators and IP holders,” mentioned Oscar Navarro, Head of Corporate Development for Ubisoft, in an announcement.

Indeed, the tradeoff for video games publishers are extra instruments that may doubtlessly hold customers additional engaged. The SDK will cowl instruments akin to cross-platform modding, to let gamers uncover and set up mods in-game, throughout all platforms and storefronts; an analytics dashboard to have higher visibility on how properly numerous mods are performing; moderation instruments to higher vet what third-party content will get submitted; and monetization instruments to convey in additional creators. As with different platforms that incentivize creators, these embody an Author Rewards Program, fund investments, developer contests, and hackathons.

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“We’ve been following UGC in gaming for many years and believe Overwolf has established itself as a leader in this category,” mentioned Teddie Wardi, MD at Insight Partners, in an announcement. “AAA game studios will want to allow creators to build and express themselves, and Overwolf is positioned as the platform to make this possible by ensuring that creators are recognized for their contributions, and easily integrating creations into games. Overwolf has proved themselves to be strong champions of the creator community and we look forward to helping them scale up in 2021.”

Financial incentives will proceed to stand out for these creators, who right this moment make most of their cash not from paid mods and apps, however from in-mod or in-app promoting, a community that’s run by Overwolf itself. Marchand mentioned that probably the most profitable builders can usher in revenues of $100,000 every month.

While Marchand likens Overwolf goals to YouTube, buyers see a parallel in Unity, one other key toolkit for the video games developer group.

“Similar to how developers use Unity to build a game, we see Overwolf as the framework for everything UGC related to games. Overwolf allows for one of the only means of monetization for the thousands of creators, in turn, this translates to increased engagement for the publishers and more content for gamers.  Services like Overwolf set the stage for the industry to see a new generation of user-generated content and we are excited to invest in the leading company moving this space forward,” commented Nick Tuosto, Co-Founder of Griffin Gaming Partners and Managing Director at LionTree, in an announcement.

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