Z2Live Becomes Yet Another Mobile Gaming Startup to Scoop Up More Venture Funding

By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

After Rovio, TinyCo and Pocket Gems, the streak of mobile gaming startup venture rounds continues.

Seattle-based Z2Live, which brought the lucrative Medieval city-building game Trade Nations to iOS, said today that it raised a second round of funding led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson. Madrona Venture Group, which invested in Z2Live’s first round, also joins in. The amount of the funding was not specified.

Ed Fries, who was Microsoft’s vice president of game publishing and oversaw the Xbox project from its infancy, and DFJ’s William Bryant, join the company’s board. With its free-to-play model and aggressive sales of in-app purchases, TradeNations is a fixture among the iOS app store’s top 50 highest-grossing games. Today it sits at #31; it’s usually ranked between 10th and 40th place.

There is an interesting twist to this story, though. Z2Live says that it’s the creator of TradeNations and that it hired a Canadian Studio, Bight Games, to develop some of the artwork and mechanics on contract. However, Bight Games says that it is the rightful owner of the intellectual property, that Z2Live is merely the publisher and that the company is bringing TradeNations to the Facebook platform on its own without Z2Live’s help in the near future. Updated: Z2Live says it owns the rights to distribute Trade Nations in perpetuity on iOS, while Bight retains the rights to publish the app on Facebook. They’re working together to figure out plans to bring the app to other platforms in the future. Bight says it’s working out language to describe ownership of the game with Z2Live at the moment.

Earlier this month, Z2Live said Trade Nations passed 200 million sessions in four months. While that’s a metric we often don’t hear about from developers, it’s a better data point than downloads. With downloads, a user might install an app and then never play it or throw it away. Two hundred million sessions implies that the game has been opened an average of 1.6 million times each day over the past four month.