25 Soaring Video Games Startups (2021)

by Josh Howarth - July 29, 2021

Pulling in $56.9B in sales per year, the video game industry is now bigger than the movie and music industries combined.

And there’s still plenty of room for future growth. Analysts forecast that the gaming space will grow to $293B by 2027.

This list presents 25 growing video game startups that are disrupting the space.

1. Creative Assembly Sofia

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5-year search growth400%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2001

Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Funding: Undisclosed (Acquired by Sega)

What they doCreative Assembly Sofia, also known as Black Sea Games, develops mainly strategy games. Branded as a must-play real-time strategy game, Knights of Honor, the company’s leading title, allows players to choose from 100 kingdoms.

2. PowerZ

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5-year search growth157%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2020

Location: Montreuil, France

Funding: $11.92M (Early Stage VC)

What they doPowerZ wants to empower students by improving their learning process. The startup has built a video game designed to teach students math, language and critical thinking skills. According to PowerZ, the game is ideally suited to children of ages 6 through 12.

3. MyDearest

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5-year search growth241%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Funding: $8.2M (Series B)

What they doMyDearest is a video game development studio. Sounds like any other video game company, right? Well, MyDearest’s competitive advantage is that it exclusively develops VR games. Although VR gaming is significantly smaller than traditional gaming, it still has an impressive market size of $11.56B.

4. Drop Fake

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5-year search growth166%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2021

Location: British Columbia, Canada

Funding: $9M (Seed)

What they doDrop Fake is working on a cross-platform, 4X strategy game. What makes Drop Fake unique is its remote-first policy, which allows all employees to work remotely. The startup directly credits this policy for the fact that 50% of its workers are from underrepresented groups.

5. Gameway

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5-year search growth300%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2017

Location: Tigard, Oregon

Funding: $970K (Early Stage VC)

What they doGameway aims to install entertainment hubs in airports across the US. Specifically, they operate video game lounges where travelers can play games on multiple consoles. So far, the startup has managed to open its centers in 2 different terminals at the  Dallas Fort Worth airport.

6. Asobo Studio

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5-year search growth875%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2002

Location: Bordeaux, France

Funding: $24.34M (PE Growth)

What they doAsobo Studio’s sweet spot is creating video games adapted from famous brands and franchises. The venture, which works with major companies such as Disney, Pixar and Microsoft, has developed 25 games to date. Of these, The Crew is perhaps its best-known and most successful title.

7. Merge Games

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5-year search growth900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2010

Location: Cheshire, England

Funding: No Funding

What they doMerge Games helps indie game developers accelerate their game-building process. It offers a team of software engineers who have previously worked for major players in the space, like Nintendo, Valve and Sony. Merge Games has caught the eye of Zordix, who has reportedly offered $17.54M to acquire the company.

8. 1047 Games

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5-year search growth99X+

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Zephyr Cove, Nevada

Funding: $10M (Later Stage VC)

What they do1047 Games specializes in designing first-person shooters. Heavily influenced by Halo, the Stanford-educated founders created Splitgate. It’s a multiplayer game that adds a new layer to the FPS genre by introducing portals. The Splitgate game is currently in its beta and is expected to launch for free on July 27th, 2021.

9. Chaos Karts

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5-year search growth3700%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: London, England

Funding: $770K (Seed)

What they doChaos Karts takes on a different angle on the video game industry by offering people a complete augmented reality (AR) experience in the form of a kart game. Seeing as how AR is poised to become “the next level” in the gaming industry, Chaos Karts makes it easy for interested players to play. Users can simply go to the company facility in London, where they are placed into an AR set that allows them to play the game. The startup’s seed round was invested at a valuation of $3.53M.

10. Epik Prime

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5-year search growth99X+

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Singapore, Singapore

Funding: Undisclosed (Early Stage VC)

What they doEpik Prime works with video game developers to facilitate the launch of in-game digital items. The Nintendo-backed startup currently works with over 250 companies spanning more than 1,000 video game brands.

11. Twin Suns

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5-year search growth80%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2021

Location: Seattle, Washington

Funding: $3.9M (Series A)

What they doTwin Suns, although founded less than a year ago, has already made a significant impact in the industry. The startup has assembled an all-star team that will work together to regularly release triple-A-rated titles. Halo’s former creative director, Hitman’s executive producer, and a former Gears of War developer are some of the industry veterans leading the new venture.

12. 2Watch

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5-year search growth30%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2020

Location: Naples, Italy

Funding: $540K (Seed)

What they do2Watch operates in the streaming vertical within the video games industry. Besides offering a streaming platform, the startup also organizes tournaments for multiple games. 2Watch has started an equity crowdfunding campaign through which it hopes to raise $100K in funding.

13. Multiverse

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5-year search growth132%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Funding: $17.65M (Series A)

What they doMultiverse believes it is revolutionizing the tabletop gaming space. The startup has built an interactive platform that allows players to make their own games as well as play already-built games. The platform is currently running a small closed beta and plans to launch for the public by mid-2022.

14. Epic Games

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5-year search growth2300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 1991

Location: Cary, North Carolina

Funding: $4.36B (Later Stage VC)

What they doEpic Games has become one of the conglomerates of the video game industry. Their best-known title, Fortnite, has over 350M registered players (in 2020, this game alone brought in $5.5B in revenue for the company.) Besides being a significant player within this industry, Epic Games has also undertaken the largest metaverse project to date, for which they have raised $1B in funding.

15. Supermassive Games

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5-year search growth450%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2008

Location: Guildford, England

Funding: Undisclosed (Corporate)

What they doSupermassive Games, as their name suggests, builds massive, interactive and immersive games. The BAFTA-winning studio is behind successful releases such as Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology.

16. HB Studios

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5-year search growth100%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2000

Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Funding: No Funding

What they doHB Studios is an independent studio that builds video games played by millions of people. The Canada-based developer has created over 50 different titles and sold more than 28 million units. This March, HB Studios announced that they had accepted an offer to be acquired by 2K.

17. Manticore Games

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5-year search growth340%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: San Mateo, California

Funding: $163.81M (Series C)

What they doManticore Games is the developer and operator of Core, which is described as a digital playground. Branded as the “portal to the multiverse,” Core is powered by the Unreal Engine and contains what seems to be an endless number of games spanning from FPSs to MMORPGs and everything in between.

18. Tiidal

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5-year search growth1900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Ontario, Canada

Funding: $3.95M (PIPE)

What they doTiidal is an esports company that organizes events, tournaments and live streams to make competitive games more engaging. The startup employs a very holistic approach, meaning that they acquire only companies that enable Tiidal to realize synergies with its current assets. With 2 businesses under its portfolio, Tiidal has an estimated yearly revenue of $3.2M.

19. One Earth Rising

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5-year search growth2900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: New York, New York

Funding: Undisclosed (Early Stage VC)

What they doOne Earth Rising creates games designed to have a positive social impact. These games are built around social themes such as climate change, well-being and ocean preservation. This allows players to learn about these topics while still having fun playing the game. One Earth Rising has already released their early access game on the PlayStation platform. And after its success, the startup is now looking to release it on the Xbox platform.

20. Rogue Games

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5-year search growth150%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2017

Location: San Mateo, California

Funding: $5.75M (Series A)

What they doRogue Games builds and publishes their own games. So far, the startup has released 18 titles, with Swordcar being their most successful one. According to Rogue Games, their $2.5M Series A funding will be used to develop “crazy games.”

21. Umami Games

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5-year search growth2500%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: Frederiksberg, Denmark

Funding: $590K (Early Stage VC)

What they doUmami Games has implemented a system that uses data to decide which games they’ll develop. The startup has also installed a very efficient testing system to test a prototype within 14 days. This enables Umami Games to produce up to 4 games every month.

22. Itatake

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5-year search growth6300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2011

Location: Molndal, Sweden

Funding: Undisclosed (PE Growth)

What they doItatake publishes casual, mobile games. In addition to game development, the startup also organizes tournaments and leagues for the games they build. To date, Itatake has created 8 games that bring in an estimated $2.1M in yearly revenue.

23. Piffle

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5-year search growth75%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2020

Location: San Francisco, California

Funding: Undisclosed (Accelerator)

What they doPiffle is a social gaming platform intended to offer games for work teams. According to the startup, these video games help increase team collaboration and efficiency. Piffle made mediatic waves when it was disclosed that it joined the Google for Startups accelerator.

24. Candivore

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5-year search growth7900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

Funding: $13.96M (Series D)

What they doCandivore builds PVP-based puzzle games designed for mobile gaming. Their matchmaking system pushes players to bring out their A-game to the table in an effort to earn in-game awards. The VGames-backed startup raised its Series D round at a valuation of $93.84M.

25. PUBG Corporation

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5-year search growth600%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2009

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Funding: Acquired by Krafton Game Union

What they do: It’s no surprise that this company made this list of important video game startups. PUBG Corporation is behind the massively popular PUBG game with over 400M registered users across different platforms. The company’s success has attracted tremendous interest from big corporations, such as Microsoft, who was reportedly interested in acquiring the venture.

Conclusion

This concludes our list of fast-growing gaming startups.

As our list demonstrates, even relatively small companies in this industry are designing, developing and publishing games enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.

As the industry evolves, so do these companies. And we can see that developers are already adapting to new trends by incorporating social-impact features, VR and AR technologies, and the metaverse into their gaming experiences.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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