Blackout Blitz creator Big Run Studios raises $5.25 million for casual mobile games

Big Run Studios, maker of Blackout Blitz, has raised $5.25 million in seed round funding, led by game investment firm Transcend Fund. …

Big Run Studios has raised $5.25 million in seed round funding led by game investment firm Transcend Fund. Game and tech investor Galaxy Interactive, via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund, also participated in the round.

The Oakland, California-based studio develops casual mobile games that feature diverse characters. Big Run Studios’ hit, Blackout Blitz, is the top bingo game on the Apple App Store, the company said. Big Run Studios is building games based on the Skillz multiplayer competitive gaming platform. That means that players can place bets on the games as they play against rivals and friends.

Big Cooking is on the menu

Above: Blackout Blitz is a big hit for Big Run Studios.

Image Credit: Big Run Studios

Big Run Studios also said that its next mobile game, Big Cooking, will be coming soon. It features Chelsea as she challenges players to put their culinary skills to the test by completing recipes, impressing customers, and beating the clock in this fast cooking competition.

The investment will expand the company’s capability to cook up new games.

“One important trend in games right now has to do with the expansion of the audience — particularly on mobile,” said Shanti Bergel, the founder of Transcend Fund, in an email to GamesBeat. “As more and more people play games regularly, opportunities open up to address new communities in authentic ways. Crafting experiences for these audiences that ring true and are familiar yet fresh and approachable yet deep is difficult. The team and strategy at Big Run are extremely well matched to this challenge and have an exciting roadmap coming up for their fans.”

Big Run’s team includes game industry veterans who have worked on franchises such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, FarmVille, Harry Potter, and Madden NFL.

Above: Big Run Studios has diverse characters.

Image Credit: Big Run Studios

“[Big Run Studios is] one of the best and most creative teams I know,” Galaxy Interactive managing director Sam Englebardt said in an email to GamesBeat. “[They’re] absolutely crushing it with their first few games. Blackout Blitz — their bingo game — is the top game on Skillz. It’s incredible what adding a skills-based wagering component does to the numbers … and [CEO Andrew Bell] has demonstrated an amazing understanding of his core audience and what matters to them.”

By layering in the Skillz competitive mobile games platform, the studio has shown retention, monetization, and growth beyond what has been previously seen in this market space. The company has four games on the App Store — Big Hearts, Big Run Solitaire, Farm Sweeper, and Blackout Blitz.

Big Run Studios has 15 full-time employees, 12 full-time contractors, and a handful of part-time contractors.

“We’re fortunate that our team of gaming industry veterans are able to apply their expertise from leading franchises they’ve worked on in the past to create polished, social mobile experiences with familiar game mechanics that players love to engage with at Big Run Studios,” said Bell in an email to GamesBeat.

He said the player base is around 87% women and 2% nonbinary. The ages range from 18 to 65 or older.

“As a studio, we feel it’s important to design diverse characters who are meaningful representations of the communities we live in around the world,” Bell said. “Plus, we’ve seen how players respond favorably to characters they can relate to. Chelsea, our leading female character is a great example. She’s designed to be genuine, approachable, fun, and social.

“She’s also meant to inspire positive body self-image and be of multi-ethnicities. We’ve introduced a few of Chelsea’s friends in the past. We’re excited to reveal more characters in the coming months that exemplify the importance and value of inclusion not only gaming but in society.”

Bell and Buren Renick (the COO) started Big Run Studios. To date, it has raised $6.6 million.

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