Leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers is putting $100 million towards funding developers building for Apple’s forthcoming iPad device. This comes on top of the $100 million it has already put in to companies building for the App Store iPhone/iPod touch.
Sectors the firm will focus on include mobile healthcare initiatives, personalized media, mobile education and mobile commerce — and mobile gaming — partner John Doerr says. The so-called iFund has already put money in to familiar developer names like Booyah, Cooliris, Gogii, InMobi, Ngmoco, Pinger, Shazam, Shopkick, and Zynga.
Zynga isn’t adding much more about its plans for the iPad, although it was present at KPCB’s launch event today. “Zynga games are already available on the iPhone and we are very excited about the iPad and its abilities to bring gaming to more consumers,” a company spokesperson tells us. “Gaming will be one of the biggest applications on the iPad and we will have our popular games available on the device soon.”
Of course, the iPad allows any developer with existing apps in the App Store to easily port those titles to the iPad. The problem is that the iPad, we and many others believe, is a uniquely different device. With a nearly 10-inch screen and a variety of other performance-enhancing features, many game developers believe it will provide new opportunities. Ngmoco and Booyah got on stage to talk more about their experiences so far — both are looking at building specifically for the iPad, of course. Quotes from TechCrunch’s live-blog:
Keith Lee, Booyah: When we saw the iPhone, we knew we had to leave our jobs at Blizzard. Camera, GPS, this was huge for new experiences. 4 months ago we launched MyTown. It’s the most popular location-based social game. It’s real-world Monopoly. We’ve been able to hit 1.6 million registered users. 130,000 new users a week. We’ve always been in the top 50 of the charts. People spending 70 million a day (per user) in our game. We have 4 million daily check-ins.
Neil Young, ngmoco: We believed the iPhone could revolutionize mobile gaming, and the iFund backed us early. We’ve have over 30,000,000 downloads of our software. We’ve had 15 top 10 (total) apps. We Rule is huge now. We run the plus network, over 20,000,000 downloads of those games. Every single day users play over 20 million minutes of ngmoco games. The iPad will revolutionize gaming in the home. The iPad radically reshapes the way you interact with software. We’ll have 7 applications available at the launch of the iPad. All built specifically for the iPad. And yes, We Rule is coming to the iPad.
In total, Ngmoco plans to release the following games: Flick Fishing, Castlecraft, NBA Hotshot, Charadium, We Rule, GodFinger and WarpGate.
Note that mobile social kingdom-building game We Rule just came out earlier this month and is already number 4 on Apple’s App Store top “Free Apps” rankings. Whatever Young means by “huge,” the game certainly seems to be, compared to most other free rivals. Also — and this is key — it is also #7 on Apple’s “Top Grossing” apps rankings. It reaches more users through being free, then makes money in part from selling virtual goods.
Judging from leaks, gaming titles should be well-represented when the iPad ships to consumers this Saturday.
We’ve been covering the rise of free-to-play mobile games that grow using social features and monetize through virtual goods. Like Ngmoco and Zynga, we expect this area has the potential to grow significantly this year in the way that social gaming grew on Facebook and other social web sites over the last couple of years.