Video games: the Serena fund invests in two French studios

Darewise and 8SEC studios, based in Paris and Lyon, are raising a total of 4.5 million euros.

After participating last October in raising more than the fund Serena continues to bet on video games. He announced this Wednesday that he was participating in two seed fundraisers: one of 3 million euros for the Parisian studio Darewise, and another of 1.5 million euros for the Lyon studio 8SEC. “We want to be a player who will support the French video game ecosystem», Explains Olivier Martret, investment director at Serena. The fund is already examining other files around esports, social tools for online games, or integrated advertising.

The two studios supported by Serena operate in distinct spheres: ultra-mainstream mobile gaming and massively online gaming. The Parisian Darewise has been working for two years on Life Beyond, «a social network in a virtual world, a kind of second existence that takes advantage of the cloud», Explains Benjamin Charbit, director of the studio. Coming from Ubisoft, where he worked on online game modes Assassin’s Creed, he surrounded himself with a team of forty people from prestigious studios like Rockstar (GTAor CD Projekt (The Witcher).

Building a metaverse

Darewise would like to do Life Beyond a “metaverse», These virtual universes where they did more than play. Fortnite approaches this vision: real artists by connecting in this online world. “But before offering this entertainment, Fortnite first had to succeed in creating a successful video game. It is also our vision. We’re already going to build a fun online game. Additional services will come next», Continues Benjamin Charbit. Among these, the possibility of earning money. Players will be able to resell their characters, items, or be paid to complete missions on behalf of other users. “We are obviously entering a risk area. But we are preparing partnerships with legitimate establishments to address the issues“Linked to these financial flows, such as money laundering, says Benjamin Charbit.

Life Beyond, which will be available on PC, consoles and mobile on a free-to-play model, has no official release date. The game is currently in closed alpha, ie tested in a non-final version by a limited number of users. “We need funds to finance development. Making video games is very expensiveHe continues. Darewise had so far been financed thanks to public aid (CNC, BPI, support from the Ile de France region, etc.). The company had also raised one million euros from business angels such as Cédric Sire, Thibault Elzière, Bertrand Diard, and Kima Ventures. Serena explains supporting this studio “because we are convinced that the social networks of tomorrow will involve video games. The barrier between virtual and real will be thinner and thinner», Estimates Olivier Martret.

Data-driven games

The Lyon studio 8SEC, created in 2015, is evolving in the world of ultra-consumer mobile games, known as “hyper casual“. Designed to occupy moments of hollow, they must be extremely quick to understand and take in hand, for games of just a few minutes. These free video games are financed by the display of advertisements. “Originally, we only dealt with the creation of these games. For two years, we have also been managing their edition, distribution, monetization, and the acquisition of new players thanks to the advertising inserted in other games.», Explains Louis Giraud, director of 8SEC. The fundraising of 1.5 million euros will allow the studio to create ten new positions in order to reach 30 employees by the end of the year. “Serena is one of the few funds that understands the hypercasual sector. Success isn’t a lottery, it’s all data driven», Continues Louis Giraud.

8SEC thus publishes one or two prototypes each week, pushed into advertisements, and measures the public’s appetite for its ideas before continuing or not with their development. This method allowed the studio to test and then refine the general culture game, downloaded 15 million times and remained for a month in the top 5 most popular games in the United States. The method also makes it possible to detect current trends, even the most improbable. “Pedicure sets are working well now», Smiles Louis Giraud. “Ditto for the games that allow you to paint pairs of sneakers. These are feeling games, which allow you to reproduce a satisfying feeling of everyday life.“Another emerging trend,”action-oriented games, such as sniper or secret agent games. This is new in the world of hypercasual.»