BlackRock catches Turkish gaming fever as Dream and Spyke announce spectacular deals

BlackRock catches Turkish gaming fever as Dream and Spyke announce spectacular deals
Spyke Games raised $55mn in a seed funding round led by US-based gaming investor Griffin Gaming Partners.
By Akin Nazli in Belgrade January 18, 2022

Istanbul-based mobile games developer Dream Games has raised $255mn in a Series C funding round, which valued the enterprise at $2.75bn, the company said on January 18.

San Francisco and London-based Index Ventures, among the top tech investors in the world, led the funding round, while existing investors, namely San Francisco-based Makers Fund, California-based Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), New York-based Kora and UK-based Balderton Capital, also participated in the round.

The name causing a sensation in the round was the only newcomer, BlackRock (New York/BLK), the largest asset manager in the world.

Dream Games is BlackRock’s first venture capital investment in Turkey, thought the asset manager is already active on Borsa Istanbul and on Turkey’s bond markets.

“99% of our revenue comes from outside Turkey,” Dream CEO Soner Aydemir told CNBC.

In June last year, Dream Games, launched in 2019 by veterans of first Turkish tech unicorn Peak Games, namely Soner Aydemir, Ikbal Namli, Hakan Saglam, Eren Sengul ve Serdar Yilmaz, became Turkey’s third unicorn.

The previous March, the company launched its first game Royal Match. It currently generates a monthly turnover of $31mn, excluding Apple (Nasdaq/AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq/GOOG) store fees, with 13mn players.

Also on January 18, another Istanbul-based mobile games developer, Spyke Gamessaid that it had raised $55mn in a seed funding round led by US-based gaming investor Griffin Gaming Partners.

Spyke’s first game, Royal Riches, is currently in the testing stage.

In February 2021, Spyke raised $5mn in a pre-seed round, which valued the company at $20mn. Again, the capital came from Griffin.

Spyke was launched in 2020 by former co-founders and executives at Turkish gaming studio Peak Games and US-based Zynga (Nasdaq/ZNGA) and Riot Games.

Spyke’s co-founders include CEO Rina Onur Sirinoglu (worked at Zynga), chief operating officer Remi Onur (Rina’s brother who also worked at Zynga), chief product officer Barkin Basaran (worked at Zynga), chief technology officer Fuat Coskun and chief marketing officer Mithat Madra.

Phil Anderson, managing director at Griffin, has also joined the board of Spyke.

Turkey’s gaming startups remain hot favourites on the international market.

In 2017, Zynga launched its Turkish expansion strategy by acquiring Peak Games’ studio. Two of the five Turkish unicorns are game developers, namely Zynga’s Peak Games along with Dream Games.

Dream Games is currently more valuable than Arcelik (ARCLK) while Trendyol outdoes Erdemir (Eregli Demir Celik/EREGL), the most valuable company on the Borsa Istanbul.  Rapid grocery delivery online player Getir beats Ford Otosan (FROTO), Koc Holding (KCHOL), Sasa Polyester (SASA), Aselsan (ASELS), Garanti BBVA (GARAN), Tupras (TUPRS), Sisecam (SISE), BIM (BIMAS), Turkcell (TCELL), Tofas (TOASO), Akbank (AKBNK), Turkish Airlines (THYAO), Isbank (ISCTR) and Turk Telekom (TTKOM).

On January 10, Take-Two Interactive (Nasdaq/TTWO) bought Zynga for $13bn.

In 2021, Turkish startups raised a total of $1.4bn worth of funding, including $400mn drawn by game developers.

In 2021, Trendyol, Getir, Dream Games, Tiko, Colendi, Libra Softworks, Picus Security, BluTV, Akinon, Servislet, RS Research were top fundraisers in Turkey.  

As of December 14, there were 481 active gaming studios in Turkey. New openings in 2021 to date stand at 72, down from the peak of 109 seen in 2020, according to the latest Games Snapshot by Startups Watch.

In Q3, 69 startups in Turkey raised a total of $150mn in funding, bringing the overall figure in January-September to 206 deals worth $1.4bn, up 49% y/y, according to the Turkish Start-up Ecosystem Q3 2021 report by Startups Watch.

In January-September, a record number of 40 gaming deals were made in Turkey.

ModanisaInsider, Good Job Games, Fugo GamesAlictusVivenseMeditopiaMartiPaycore and Ace Games are seen as upcoming Turkish unicorns.

In September, Genco Alp, a co-founder of Turkish game developer InGame, told BloombergHT that the company was planning a partnership for the global launch of its Zula Mobil in 2022.

An abundance of cash in the money market due to the pandemic has also reflected positively upon gaming investments, Alp also said.

Fiber Games CEO Sinan Akkol told the publication that the company was evaluating partnership offers.