My first venture investment: the world’s most advanced simulation game
“Wait 12 months before making your first investment.”
“Avoid rookie mistakes, learn from your peers, get settled.”
“Say no to everything you see in the first year.”
The most consistent advice other VC’s gave me when I joined the startup investor world was to wait a while before making an investment. I was on board with this advice. Sounded pretty smart.
Three weeks into my new job I met Mundi Vondi, an Icelandic fashion (and game) designer in Berlin. Mundi joined forces with Oddur Snær Magnússon and Ívar Emilsson, from CCP Games (makers of EVE Online) to form a game studio called Klang. Mundi pitched his studio’s ambitious plan to build an MMO called Seed. A few minutes into the meeting, I was hooked.
Seed is a simulation MMO where players interact and collaborate to create a world driven by real emotion and aspiration. A persistent simulation where the player’s goal is to take over a vast planet to ensure the survival of humanity.
If successful, Seed will be the world’s most advanced simulation game. An hour at Klang’s studio clearly wasn’t enough, so I crashed a pizza date with Mundi and his girlfriend to continue the conversation (they insisted). He didn’t share your typical market size data, KPI’s, or hockey-stick chart. Just a passionate and uniquely talented team that’s wanted to make this simulation game for a long time — and had started doing it.
As the night progressed, I heard how the game’s economy will function and what will boost the morale of a colony. The vision for Seed isn’t just to create another sandbox environment for you and a few hundred players to build a mini-world, but rather a complete world with millions of players and their colonies, interacting with all the freedom and choice of real life.
I met several great start-ups on that trip to Berlin, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Klang. Falling in love with a studio is one thing, but making a good venture investment is another. Investing in Klang breaks multiple “norms” of modern venture investing in game studios. Seed is primarily a PC game (slow growing market), not mobile (fast growing market). They will invest millions of Euros and multiple years building the product before releasing it (can’t fail fast). It will be built on a new tech platform (SpatialOS from Improbable). Broken norms aside, my investment logic was formed around three areas consistently found in the game industry’s biggest winners:
1. Creative-led teams focussed on gameplay build better games than business-led teams focussed on making money
2. Revolutionary design attracts and retains a larger and more loyal audience than a game with evolutionary design
3. Complex systems require talented designers with deep experience to make the game simple enough for everyday people to play it
Successes are not created overnight, but I couldn’t be happier to cut my teeth in venture with Klang as my first investment. I’ve been in the gaming industry long enough to know Seed has all of the ingredients necessary to define a completely new genre, and am thrilled Northzone and I will be able to play a smart part in making that happen.