Funzio On $20 Million Funding Round, Cross-Platform Development For Facebook And Smartphone

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By AJ Glasser Comment

Crime City developer Funzio announced a $20 million series A investment round this morning, led by IDG Ventures and IDG Capital Partners. The company hopes to put the money toward tripling its 30-member staff and into cross-platform development on Facebook, Android, and iOS games.

Speaking to ISG, Funzio President & COO Anil Dharni says that the company has already started work on two new games, at least one of which is due out “soon.” These games motivated Funzio to seek out funding so that they could hire enough staff to support development.

The big question is how Funzio plans to enter the cross-platform market. The challenge for social games migrating to mobile is threefold across technology, game design, and platform restrictions. With technology, social game developers face the challenge of building an experience — sometimes outside of Flash, the primary social game engine — that can exist offline for phones without consistent network connections. For game design, mobile gamers engage with games at a different rate of play sessions and lengths per day than social games, which requires a different gameplay experience to support their engagement. On the monetization side, cross-platform games are vulnerable to monetization restrictions within platforms, like Facebook Credits in Crime City.

Dharni says that the challenges aren’t as much of an issue in creating games that straddle Facebook and Android, not only because Android supports Flash but also because Android allows daily updates to apps the way Facebook does.

“The three platforms are trying to talk to each other and work out these issues,” Dharni tells us. “But In the short term, we’ll need to come up with workarounds for [these issues]. So the plan right now is to figure out how to create a [shallow] experience built around something like Crime City.”

Another part of the short term plan is developing proprietary technology to support cross-platform games. Dharni says Funzio’s platform will be complete in the next couple of months, probably coinciding with the release of the developer’s next game. Though the platform will simplify the sharing of art assets and other intellectual property between games, Dharni says Funzio is keenly aware that mobile games need to be unique in experience.

“Sending our Facebook traffic ot mobile won’t give the lift that we are looking for,” Dharni says. “The [mobile] game has to stand alone. The scale comes from sharing the assets and the IP [across games].”

Funzio currently enjoys 7.5 million monthly active users and 751,000 daily active users with just one game on Facebook, Crime City. The developer was formed by several social and mobile game developer veterans from Zynga and Storm8. The company was founded and initially funded by entrepreneur and Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson, who serves as Funzio’s chairman. Thompson also participated in this round of funding. IDG Ventures Managing Director, Phil Sanderson will join him on the board.

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