Social gaming stalwarts Kabam announced this week that it has raised $85 million in a fourth round of funding from Google Ventures, Pinnacle Ventures, Performance Equity and SK Telecom Ventures, in addition to its earlier investors.
This just a couple days after rumors set off a wildfire in the media that Zynga, the unspoken king of social gaming on Facebook, would finally be making its public debut. In contrast to Zynga’s well over 200 million monthly active users, however, Kabam’s games attract just 7.2 million active users per month.
That said, Kabam is playing a completely different ballgame from Zynga.
While Zynga is happy cloning away and iterating on proven successes with titles like FarmVille and CityVille, Kabam targets the more hardcore gamers with its epic releases: Dragons of Atlantis, Kingdoms of Camelot, Glory of Rome and Global Warfare, so far.
"We don't want to spend our days making pink dogs and offering them to soccer moms," says chief product officer Andrew Shepherd. "We want to make skill-based games, emergent gameplay, that allow people to ally in order to reach their goals, to enjoy each other."
And that vision might be why investors are willing to back the company with such large amounts of capital, even though the startup has not proven it can build a user base as big as Zynga’s. Instead of going for quantity, Kabam is shooting for quality: it hopes that its hardcore users will be worth more (by spending more on in-game virtual goods) than the average “soccer mom” social gamer.
Kabam is no stranger to massive funding rounds. This past January, the startup raised a $30 million Series C led by Redpoint Ventures and Intel Capital with additional contributions from original investor Canaan Partners, Kabam’s seed-stage incubator.