With industry veterans from companies like Universal, IGN, Activision, Disney, and Apple, Rogue Games, Inc. is a leading digital game publisher for high-quality indie games, credited with award-winning titles such as Oz: Broken Kingdom and Sociable Soccer. With the global games market valued at $159B+ nd growing rapidly, Rogue Games works with independent game developers to push their titles on various platforms such as PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, PC (Steam), and Nintendo Switch. Unlike other publishers, Rogue often gets involved well before the final product is ready, offering invaluable advice on gameplay and design, leveraging the team’s vast expertise and experience.
LA TechWatch caught up with CEO Mike DeLaet to learn more about what differentiates Rogue Games from other game publishers, the company’s future plans, pandemic fundraising, and latest funding round, which brings the total funding raised to $3.3M since the company was founded in 2018.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Runa Capital led the $2M Seed Round. Mighty Capital, Liquid 2 Ventures (Joe Montana & Michael Ma), and Ronnie Lott also joined the round as new investors.
Previous funding includes a $1.25M Seed round led by Grishin Robotics which was announced in March 2019 which also included investments from notable gaming executives like Mike Verdu, Rob Oshima, and Colin Carrier.
Rogue Games, founded by industry veterans with more than 150+ years of game publishing experience, is a new kind of game company powered by innovative technology and developer-first solutions. Rogue’s extensive portfolio of games, which spans mobile, console, and PC, features award-winning hit titles including Chaos Battle League, Oz: Broken Kingdom™, Sociable Soccer™, Wild Life: Puzzle Story, Hexaflip: The Action Puzzler, Super Impossible Road and many more. Rogue is headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in San Mateo and Seattle.
What inspired the start of Rogue Games?
Our leadership team has been in the games industry for a long time. We come from Kabam, IGN, Apple, Sony, Treyarch, Activision, Universal and Disney, to name just a few. And we’ve experienced firsthand the pitfalls of the publishing business. We started Rogue because the industry has evolved, digital is rapidly becoming king, and we’re well-suited to address that with a great business model and incredible partners.
How is Rogue Games different?
We’re different from the ‘big’ publishers in that we focus on building a true partnership with game developers, which means that we get involved much earlier in the game development cycle. This is where we can invest a serious amount of time, tools, and sweat to improve gameplay and game design. We’re not that typical big publisher who’s looking to pick up a finished game and just throw it out there and not give it the attention it deserves.
What market are you targeting and how big is it?
The global games market is a $159B+ market growing nearly 9%+ per year driven by growth on each platform – mobile, PC and console. Unlike other market segments which have been hit hard by the global pandemic, the global games market is still growing and thriving.
What’s your business model?
We source the highest quality games from indie developers around the world and publish them across mobile, PC, and console platforms. Different from big publishers, we focus on investing our time, tech, tools, and sweat into making a game successful. This means getting involved very early in the development cycle and leveraging more than 150 years of games industry experience along with our custom tools.
How has the business impacted by COVID-19?
All major games publishers are continuing to see large increases in time spent and engagement with games. Games are also actively supporting the WHO and CDC by encouraging players to stay home and support social distancing recommendations to help flatten the curve. Games have become the new social network for quarantined players to socialize, meet-up, and play together.
What was the funding process like?
Raising funds during a global pandemic was a challenge. It’s very different from normal and we’ve had to adapt from using face-to-face meetings and getting to know our partners to rely on Zoom meetings and phone calls. Funding is still there, but there is clearly more of a focus on diligence and finding the right platforms and products that can continue to grow even in the face of a global health crisis.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The global pandemic!
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Our team is very agile and fast-moving which has helped us both be an early mover and find success on new gaming services like Apple Arcade. We’ve also continued to show growth and scale in the business as we bring games to new platforms (PC and Console) and business models (like subscriptions).
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to extend our leadership position in subscription games by launching more than eight new titles over the next six months. At the same time, we’re kicking off our console business with a number of extremely innovative, ambitious AA projects with top-tier indie partners.
At the same time, we’re kicking off our console business with a number of extremely innovative, ambitious AA projects with top-tier indie partners.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Make sure you do everything you can to work with your partners and your bank to take advantage of everything that is out there. We were fast and lucky enough to secure a PPP loan which we are putting to use. It’s also important to explore all avenues of financing for your business. Networking is key to raising capital, so the earlier you start that process the better off you will be long term. Focus on building a sustainable business and conserve as much cash as possible for the next 12 months.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re really excited about the new console platforms, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, arriving later this year. We also have our first games coming to PC (Steam) and Nintendo Switch. New services like Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass will also be an area of focus for us.
What is your favorite restaurant in LA?
Okay—we’re going to keep it real here. We could easily come back with something like Bandera or Mastros, but the first thing that popped in our heads was Tommy’s Original Burgers. The place is an LA staple!
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