One of the (few) beneficiaries to emerge so far in the Covid economy has been the video game industry, buoyed by increased demand from gamers in lockdown around the world. For example, London-listed game services provider Keywords Studios reported a 13% rise in revenues for the first half of 2020.
A new case in point is Sweden-based LocalizeDirect, which announced on July 23, 2020 that it raised USD 1.1m.
LocalizeDirect will use the funds primarily to launch Gridly, a “collaborative headless CMS for multilingual game projects,” as well as to expand the company’s revenue growth via increased service capabilities, sales, and marketing. (Headless refers to a back-end-only CMS, where content is provided as data over an API; as opposed to having content attached to, say, some particular web page output.)
Fundraising during the Covid-19 outbreak was “a roller coaster emotionally,” CEO Christoffer Nilsson explained to Slator. “We had gone through due diligence and had a shared view of the agreement and valuation. Then Corona hit and introduced so much uncertainty.”
”Then Corona hit and introduced so much uncertainty” — Christoffer Nilsson
However, LocalizeDirect went on to have its best month ever during the pandemic. “Being able to show strong results and growth helped put the new investors’ fears to rest, and we closed the funding round at the understanding we had initially before the pandemic,” Nilsson said. He added that they also plan to expand their offerings horizontally into LQA (localization quality assurance) and audio.
Nilsson, who started one of Sweden’s first game development companies in the early 1990s, founded LocalizeDirect in 2009 with Mattias Wennerholm and Michael Souto: “Mattias worked with me as development director. Michael had spent 10 years as executive producer at Eidos, now Square Enix, when he joined LocalizeDirect.”
According to Nilsson, LocalizeDirect has been growing around 40% each year. “We could have self-funded it at a slower pace, but we felt that Gridly time-to-market was vital,” he said.
LocalizeDirect’s latest investment was funded by Entreprenörinvest, owned by The IKEA Family Foundation and a number of Swedish venture capital firms and private individuals, including Innovum Invest. Former investors also participated in the new round.
Jan Andersson, a board member of both Entreprenörinvest and Innovum Invest, was the point person for the deal. As a new member of LocalizeDirect’s Board of Directors, Andersson will advise the company on scaling to the next level.
On the Radar for Quite a While
“Jan had previously founded and exited a large software company in our region, so he had been on our radar for quite a while,” Nilsson said, noting that discussions with Andersson started about a year ago.
Designed for “anyone who creates, edits, enriches, translates, proofreads, or publishes any content inside a game,” Nilsson said Gridly allows game developers and other contributors, including external vendors and contractors, to streamline the development pipeline.
Gridly users can quickly search, filter, add, and update millions of data entries, trying out the changes in a sandbox environment before committing to them. Since the source text can be changed at any time, the system also tracks the status of each translation and any necessary updates. A full audit trail records all data changes, and allows users to revert to a prior version as needed.
“We do plan to build integrations to popular TMS and other tools”
“Initially, we have a strong focus on the data management side, such as version control and user access rights, but we do plan to build integrations to popular TMS and other tools,” Nilsson said. “When reliance on hardware disappears, games and the worlds inside them will grow bigger and so will the production teams and the complexity involved to manage it all.”