In-home fitness has thrived during 2020. A few hardware companies that have done well include Peloton, Mirror, JaxJox, Fight Camp, and Tonal. In video gaming, there are fitness specific games that have also grown in popularity: BoxVR, Ring Fit Adventure, Zumba: Burn It Up, Wii Fitness and more. The key difference between these two groups is that the generic fitness companies have built specific hardware for their platforms whereas most fitness video games leverage existing hardware (VR, controllers, etc).
This week, a startup called Quell is a prime example of these above trends converging. According to TechCrunch, “At the core of Quell’s gameplay is the “Gauntlet” — a harness, of sorts, that the player slips on to control Quell’s games. As players punch and dodge their way through the world, Gauntlet’s built-in sensors measure things like punch speed and accuracy, while customizable resistance bands keep things challenging.” They have built custom hardware for their game and it’s built for PC, Mac, and mobile devices. The way to get it on your TV is through an HDMI cord or perhaps Airplay. The company raised $3M from notable investors that include Kevin Lin and Emmett Shear (founders of Twitch), Naval Ravikant, Khosla Ventures, and Tencent (TechCrunch).
There are two trends to watch here:
1) Generic Platforms: they are building their own hardware yet leveraging many learnings from video gaming to engage their user base. These include in-app purchases, global leaderboards, in-game competition, and a sense of being part of a larger community of people (players) working out and staying fit.
2) Video Game Fitness: to date, games have primarily relied on generic video game hardware. Quell is an example of certain video games building hardware to augment the player’s experience with their workout game.
Takeaway: the convergence of in-home fitness and video gaming is well underway and it’s playing itself out through custom hardware, gamification strategies, and global community engagement via digital-first platforms (not in-person).
When looking at the gaming market globally, the majority of the conversation revolves around a few core countries: China, United States, Japan, South Korea, and Germany. These countries account for ~$100B (~65%) of the global gaming market ($152B in 2019). Besides Germany, these countries are home to most of the biggest game developers in the world (Germany does have a couple of rising companies).
One country that seems to be gaining steam in the gaming industry is Turkey. Just this week, Bigger Games raised a $6M round led by Index Ventures. Prior to this round, the studio had raised a small seed round and amassed 75M downloads in the past year alone. The three founders of Bigger Games used to work at Peak Games, another Turkish Studio that was acquired by Zynga for $1.9B in 2019.
Zynga has acquired three Turkish studios (Peak, Gram Games, and Rollic) for a combined $2.2B since 2018. Tencent has also taken notice of Turkey with its acquisition of Masomo who’s flagship titles Head Ball and Head Ball 2 were downloaded over 60M times at the time of the acquisition.
According to VentureBeat, the country has more than 100 development studios of all sizes, estimated to have reached an aggregate revenue of $1.5 billion in 2019. According to mobile data and analytics platform App Annie, Turkish-made games claimed four of the top ten games in the iOS app store back in July, 2020.
Takeaway: Turkey is quickly becoming a core country in the games ecosystem and is proving to be a breeding ground for successful gaming companies. We are excited to see others in the region follow suit.