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[Update] Riot Investment In Curse Nearly $30 Million, Topping Previous Investment Rounds

by Mike Futter on Jul 07, 2015 at 11:04 AM

Update: An SEC filing has added color to Riot Games' investment in Curse. The League of Legends developer appears to have invested $29,999,999 in Curse.

This amounts to more than Curse's initial round of $12 million funding and series B $16 million funding. Additionally, Riot director of business development Brian Cho has joined Curse's board of directors. He joins representatives from other finders Idinvest, SoftTec VC, and GGV Capital, all principal funders in Series A or B.

The Riot Investment also includes securities with an exercise price that will change related to time and the SEC form also indicates that $4.5 million of gross proceeds from the investment will be going to one or more of Curse's directors. 

We've reached out to Riot for an additional statement, especially in light of Razer's announcement earlier today regarding its LoL Launcher plugin for Razer Comms.

Original Story (July 2, 2015 @ 9:53 a.m.):

As the video game industry develops, the opportunity for complementary product relationships expands. Yesterday, League of Legends developer Riot Games made an investment of an unknown amount in Curse.

In addition to its Gamepedia service (a home for video game wikis), Curse operates a secure voice over IP service called Curse Voice. The application is currently in beta, and recently expanded from PC to include Mac, iOS, and Android.

“Riot really believes in what we're doing and where we're going,” writes Curse CEO Hubert Thieblot. “This investment boosts our efforts to continue creating what I believe to be the best communication tool in gaming.”

About a year ago, Curse was put in a challenging position with regard to the portion of its community that also plays League of Legends. Two features were deemed to be in violation of Riot’s rules (automatic timers and automatic chat joining), with the developer going so far as to ban anyone using the client.

“When the application begins directly connecting you with dozens of other people in unfiltered (and untrackable) voice chats, it can make for a huge negative player experience in a space where we can’t help,” Riot said at the time. “No software should interfere with the League of Legends player experience between when you press “Play” and the end of game screen.”

Curse altered its product to comply, removing the timers and changing the way the voice chat app works. Today, the relationship has clearly evolved with financial ties now existing between the two companies.

Curse does not indicate how much the investment is worth, and both it and Riot are private companies, the terms may not be revealed. Via its Twitter account, Riot directed people to Curse’s brief statement on the matter.

We inquired with both companies on what this might mean for a formal relationship between League of Legends and Curse Voice (which is already a partner with Hi-Rez Studios’ Smite). 

“This is an investment in Curse because Riot believes in the team and the experiences they’ve built for players,” a Riot representative told us via email. “We’re not announcing any League of Legends development roadmap plans (or feature plans) right now.”

Curse provided no additional comment, but assured us that we’d hear more when there was more to share. “This is, of course, exciting and positive news for us,” Thieblot writes in Curse’s statement available online. “We've known Riot for a long time, and know that Riot, like us, cares very deeply about the core gamer. I'm excited and confident that this will be good for Curse and for the millions of players we serve via Curse Voice.”

[Source: Curse, Inc.]


Our Take
While Riot and Curse aren’t talking about specifics or what this might mean for the future, it does position the latter quite well. Riot will want to see return on its investment, and that likely means giving Curse more visibility. Whether that comes in the form of a formalized or official partnership remains to be seen (and neither party is willing to talk yet).