Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) has launched a $600 million fund dedicated to gaming startups with a focus on Web3, saying it believes “Games infrastructure and technologies will be key building blocks of the Metaverse.”
Dubbed Games Fund One, the fund will invest in three main areas: game studios, consumer applications — which support player communities, with Discord used as an example — and gaming infrastructure providers.
The a16z team said “The coming Metaverse will be built by games companies, using games technologies” and that the industry has already “solved many of the problems that need to be solved to create the Metaverse.” It believes games will become the “dominant way people spend time.”
The move by a16z marks nearly $3 billion committed by venture funds and gaming industry giants into Web3 gaming or metaverse projects since mid-April. Venture firm White Star Capital raised $120 million for its decentralized finance (DeFi) and gaming-focused fund, along with a $200 million allocation to blockchain gaming projects by Framework Ventures, both taking place in April 2022.
Metaverse projects are also gaining massive sums from gaming industry titans. Last month, Epic Games, creator of the popular Fortnite title, raised $2 billion to create a metaverse with funding from Sony and Lego
The team at a16z pointed to the billions of dollars in revenue that games such as Minecraft generate, using the open-world game as an example of a title that has retained a long-term active community that functions more like a social network. Minecraft is the current all-time highest-selling game and has seen 173 million average monthly players over the past 30 days, according to figures from game statistics platform ActivePlayer, despite it being released almost 11 years ago.
The fund is the first by a16z solely dedicated to games, but the firm has backed successful game-related projects in the past, including virtual reality company Oculus and game developer Zynga, saying the investments “cemented our belief that games require a specialized focus.”
Joining the fund are founders of game development companies and popular games such as Marc Merrill, co-founder of Riot Games; Aleks Larsen and Jeffrey Zirlin, co-founders of Sky Mavis, which owns the popular Axie Infinity blockchain game; and Kevin Lin, founder of gaming company Metatheory, which received $24 million in a funding round led by a16z.