GAMES FUND ONE: Building the Future of Games

Andrew Chen, Jonathan Lai, and James Gwertzman

? New fund alert! ?

(Yes, venture capital funds do drops now!)

Today, we are proud to announce GAMES FUND ONE, a16z’s inaugural fund dedicated to building the future of the games industry. Having been investors in this space for more than a decade, it’s clear to us the industry has entered a new era, and there is no better time than now to build a fund focused on supporting the next generation of games builders.

GAMES FUND ONE is founded on the belief that games will play a pivotal role in defining how we socialize, play, and work over the next century. Over the past decade, games have undergone a radical transformation, from simply being packaged entertainment, to becoming online services that more closely resemble social networks and scale like consumer technology companies. The most successful games today, such as Fortnite, League of Legends, and Minecraft, are communities that retain loyal, long-term users and generate billions of dollars in annual revenue. Furthermore, games are also driving innovation across the entire consumer ecosystem, pioneering best-in-class mechanisms for user engagement, retention, and monetization, such as microtransactions, battle passes, and web3 tokens. And long term, we believe games infrastructure and technologies will be key building blocks of the Metaverse, an opportunity that dwarfs the current $300 billion game industry itself.

With the $600M GAMES FUND ONE, we plan to invest in the following themes:

  • Game Studios: The best games today are continually updated online services whose players form an integral part of the game through multiplayer and user-generated content. These “games-as-a-service” have become rich, interactive social networks, with players making in-game friendships that are just as meaningful as those made in-person.
  • Games x Consumer: The rapid growth in the number of gamers worldwide has created a thriving ecosystem of consumer apps to support them. As games become the dominant way people spend time, we believe some of the most innovative consumer companies will be built around player communities. (Social apps like Discord that help gamers build community, or platforms like Twitch where millions tune in daily to watch creators livestream video, are just a couple examples of this).
  • Infrastructure: As games evolve into virtual worlds and online services, the demand for tools and services needed to build great games is skyrocketing. Not only is this infrastructure important for games in its own right, we also believe that the coming Metaverse will be built by games companies, using games technologies. From content creation to multiplayer enablement to virtual economy management and live ops, the games industry has already solved many of the problems that need to be solved to create the Metaverse.

But why create a dedicated games fund?

GAMES FUND ONE has been nearly a decade in the making. In the 2010s, a16z backed companies like Zynga and Oculus, which helped us build our experience with both game studios and underlying games technologies. More recently, we’ve invested across the ecosystem, backing veterans from established players like Riot Games, CCP, and Epic Games, as well as from consumer tech startups that target gamers, like Z League and Sleeper. Along the way, we have also bet on emerging technologies, like web3 and instant games and VR/AR.

All of this has cemented our belief that games require a specialized focus–not just in dedicated investing capital, but also in operational prowess that’s as unique and forward-thinking as the games industry itself.

Today, our games portfolio companies are supported by a cross-functional team of experts from across the firm, many of whom are themselves gamers—our partner Jon Lai even met his wife while playing League of Legends!—and games industry veterans from companies like Riot Games, Twitch, EA, Tencent, and Oculus. These partners are dedicated to working with portfolio companies and accelerating their time to success across core company-building functions such as Go-To-Market, Marketing, Talent, People Practices, Capital Networks, and more. With GAMES FUND ONE, we will continue to add more functions and develop deeper networks that are tailored to the games ecosystem so we can help our portfolio companies with everything from building digital communities, to managing their virtual economies, to IP licensing best practices, to helping build their development teams.

We are proud to be joined in this fund by games industry leaders and visionaries, including David Baszucki, founder of Roblox; Jason Citron, founder of Discord; Marc Merrill, cofounder of Riot Games; Mike Morhaime, cofounder of Blizzard; Aleks Larsen and Jeffrey Zirlin, cofounders of Sky Mavis; Kevin Lin, cofounder of Twitch, Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga; and Riccardo Zacconi, founder of King.

Through GAMES FUND ONE, we’re reaffirming our commitment to the games industry. If you’re building, supporting, or partnering with the next generation of games, we want to hear from you. And we’re hiring too—on the investment team, in marketing, executive talent, and partnerships!

Thank you!

Game on,
Andrew (@andrewchen)
Jonathan (@tocelot)
James (@gwertz)