China’s game engine Cocos raises $50M, goes beyond games – TechCrunch

Cocos Technologies, a China-based game engine provider that has been around since 2010, has just announced that it has secured $50 million in a Series B funding round in a bid to work on development and go beyond the games. Investors include CCB Trust, a subsidiary of China Construction Bank, GGV Capital and real-time communication solutions provider Agora, a long-time Cocos partner.

Cocos is best known for its cross-platform open source engine for 2D mobile games, but many have argued that it has fallen behind in the 3D era. To catch up, the Beijing-based company added 3D capabilities to its engine last year. However, the Chinese company does not intend to face giants like Unreal or Unity; rather, it sets its sights on an overlooked trend: the renaissance of HTML5 web games in China and elsewhere. It is also making inroads into non-game scenarios, such as online education and autonomous driving.

Cocos is free to use, so over the years it has generated capital from a combination of sources, including providing support and tutorials to third-party developers, raising funds from its Chinese parent Chukong, and organizing gaming industry events.

It has a major deal with Huawei to allow global developers to build games that run on the phone maker’s in-house chips and HarmonyOS, billed as an alternative to Android. The company also supports Chinese search giant Baidu’s Xirang metaverse platform, though it declined to share exactly how they work together.

These revenue streams have been able to sustain Cocos, but the company is poised to accelerate growth, which is why it has sought external financing. His team grew from about 100 employees 18 months ago to more than 230 as of this month, Luke Stapley, director of marketing for Cocos, told TechCrunch.

The revival of minigames

Since launching on WeChat in 2017, HTML5 games, or what the Tencent-owned messenger calls “mini-games,” have become a hit in China. Over the past few years, Cocos has become one of the leading tools for creating WeChat games. Most of these games are casual games and are monetized through ads rather than in-app purchases, exempting them from acquiring the government-issued license that is increasingly difficult to come by.

As a result, many Chinese independent game developers who lack the resources to apply for game permissions are turning to HTML5 as it is one of the few ways they can make money.

“Minigame progression is a revolution in China,” Stapley suggested. The boom caught the attention of hardware makers like Vivo, which teamed up with Cocos to make its equivalent of minigames. “A lot of phone companies saw what WeChat was doing and said, hey, we’d like to have these mini-games in our stores too.”

Cocos powers about 60% of China’s minigames, Stapley said. The category is also taking off in Europe, where “people love to play games,” and in Southeast Asia, where many users “don’t have very good phones, so H5 gaming is much easier to work with than gaming.” new high end. ”

Cocos says that its engine has served 1.4 million developers in 203 countries and regions around the world. China is its largest market, followed by the United States and Russia. South America and India are among its fastest growing regions.

new arenas

Just as Unity has diversified its use cases into areas such as architecture and aerospace, Cocos simulation technology has also found new applications. Many large online education companies have been using the Cocos engine to create interactive online lesson plans, according to Stapley. A Chinese technology company that Cocos cannot name due to a confidentiality agreement is using its engine to work on advanced driving solutions and smart cockpits.

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