Company has also produced 'FlOw' and 'Flower'
After being incubated within Sony Santa Monica Studio and producing three games for the PlayStation Network, including the award-winning “Journey,” the company will self-publish its next title for the first time and has raised $7 million to ramp up production.
Private equity firm Capital Today Group led the Series B round of financing, along with venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, and a half-dozen individual investors and investment companies, including Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.
While thatgamecompany has yet to reveal details of its title, or when it will be released, it will be an online multiplayer experience developed for a variety of platforms and with audiences of all ages in mind, according to Sunni Pavlovic, studio manager of thatgamecompany. Game will also “count on real human connections to form the heart of the player experience,” she said.
There are no plans to introduce the game at next month’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
Co-founded in 2006 by Jenova Chen, John Edwards, Nick Clark and Kellee Santiago, thatgamecompany produced “flOw,” “Flower” and “Journey,” which were exclusive to the PlayStation Network through its backing by Sony Computer Entertainment America.
“We’re trying to bring a similar experience to a larger fanbase,” Pavlovic said of the multiplatform strategy. “We’re able to reach more people that way.”
The independent gamemaker has long veered away from making the kinds of violent games that are traditionally produced for consoles, and has focused more on amping up the artistic, emotional and spiritual elements of design and gameplay with its titles.
“Journey,” for example, has players control a robed character as they make their way alone across desolate landscapes to the top of a mountain.
Thatgamecompany will use the new funds to staff up, especially its engineering, networking and content production teams through the rest of the year.
“As an independent studio we are focused on growing the right team of individuals who are passionate about creating something new, meaningful, and magical as much as we are,” Pavlovic said.
Thatgamecompany raised an initial round of $5.5 million shortly after “Journey’s” release in 2012, which enabled the studio to define what the next project would be.
In addition to strong sales on the PlayStation Network, the Museum of Modern Art acquired “flOw,” while the Smithsonian selected “Flower” to be in the museum’s permanent collection.
“Journey” won game of the year at the DICE Awards, the industry’s version of the Oscars; the Game Developers Choice Awards; and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Austin Wintory’s soundtrack also was nominated for a Grammy in the best score soundtrack for visual media category.
The more recent round had the critical feedback and awards to “give us a better platform” to raise more coin, Pavolovic said. “Now that we know what the next project is, it’s now time to get into gear and transition into the next phase of development.”
Yet going the self-publishing route also means “there’s more we need to think about,” Pavlovic said. “We control all aspects,” which includes marketing, distribution and quality control.
“What is really exciting is that we found some great partners to work with who can share in their knowledge to take the game and the company to the next level and believe in what we’re doing,” Pavlovic added.
“As a one-of-a-kind entertainment studio, I am thrilled to invest in thatgamecompany’s vision to make inspirational interactive products widely accessible to everyone worldwide” said Kathy Xu, founder and managing partner of Capital Today Group. “Consumer tastes and expectations in games are evolving, and so it’s exciting to invest in a world-‐class team that’s at the vanguard of growing the industry and making socially impactful experiences available at a mainstream level.”
Despite all the accolades, thatgamecompany is focusing on just one game at a time. “After all the awards we’ve won, we still have a lot to prove,” Pavlovic said.