Home / Gaming / 1047 Games raises $100M on the runaway success of its debut title, Splitgate

1047 Games raises $100M on the runaway success of its debut title, Splitgate

When you’re hot, you’re hot. And 1047 Games is making the most of the heat generated by Splitgate, its first game and now a breakout success. After working on a shoestring for years, the team has since May raised three rounds, the latest for a massive $100 million.

Co-founder and CEO Ian Proulx credited a dedicated community and, as he described it, “taking a Silicon Valley approach to running a game business.”

At the time 1047 Games was founded, about five years ago, free to play (F2P) PC games were a niche genre. While games like World of Tanks and Warframe were seeing success, and of course many mobile games relying on in-app purchases, Fortnite had yet to show the industry that F2P could be so ludicrously profitable.

“Five years ago it was very hit-driven: You spend years developing a product, put all this money into hyping the launch and then hope it’s a success,” Proulx explained. “Our process was, there’s no way we can take that risk — if we spent our entire budget and got it wrong, we’re out of business. So we thought, let’s do a soft launch, put it out there and see what happens, learn, listen, look at the data. Why would I spend money marketing a product that I have no idea about whether it will be a success? If we wanted to spend money, and we didn’t have a lot, I’d rather spend it on a product that has great metrics and KPIs.”

If you’re not familiar with it, Splitgate is a multiplayer online competitive shooter with a lot of DNA from the old-school arena shooters like Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and Halo. Those games are frenetic enough, but Splitgate adds the ability to bend space with portals, like the eponymous Portal, adding a truly ridiculous amount of mobility to the action.

Screenshot of the game Splitgate showing a player aiming through a portal

Image Credits: 1047 Games

Proulx said investors shut the door on him repeatedly because they didn’t see Splitgate competing in any of the popular genres, battle royales and hero shooters, for instance. But he felt confident that this update to a familiar formula would be a success partly because the demand was there, just sleeping. “People grew up playing these games, and the reason [the market] is dead is not because they stopped loving them,” he said. “No one has moved the needle because there hasn’t been a lot of innovation, and there hasn’t been something that’s accessible to the masses. Quake Arena is great, but it’s extremely difficult. No 12-year-old Fortnite kid is gonna play it. We really do fill this void.”

While gameplay-wise Splitgate is most obviously similar to classic shooters, Proulx said a better comparison would be Rocket League, another huge success story in gaming that took a great concept and provided it as cheaply as possible, making money off cosmetic items and other totally optional perks.

“You can just have fun, turn your brain off and play, but there’s this limitless skill ceiling,” he explained.

It didn’t spring fully formed from 1047 in 2019, though. The team put out the gaming equivalent of a minimum viable product. “It was fun, and the basics were there,” he said, “but we learned there’s way more to running a business and free-to-play than just having a fun game.”