Investors and developers are taking a shine to the company’s unique, developer-friendly plug-in technology. Since starting mod.io in 2017, the game company has journeyed from a simple idea and a few staff members, to partnering with more than 100 developers and publishers worldwide.
The company’s success shows that Australian startups can be ground breakers in the global games industry. In 2021, mod.io raised US$26 million in a round of Series A funding. Investors included Tencent and Lego Ventures. In January 2022, the company surpassed 300 million downloads.
By making user-generated content (UGC) more accessible and easier to monetise, mod.io is helping to take the global gaming industry in a whole new direction.
Modding goes mainstream
Entrepreneur and gamers, Scott Reismanis and Patrick Sotiriou co-founded mod.io in 2017. Their aim was to shape the direction of modding, which is a major trend in gaming. Modding helps players to modify the games they play. It enables players to create their own characters, levels, soundtracks and gameplay – and then share their new content with other enthusiasts.
mod.io guessed – correctly – that what began as a fringe activity approximately 20 years ago would become big business.
‘The entire games business is being reconfigured to encourage player engagement,’ he says. ‘For example, games like Minecraft and Roblox are built around UGC. Modding is a way of outsourcing creativity to player communities.
‘We specialise in unlocking this creativity across the industry. We do this by solving the safety, scalability, moderation, discovery and marketplace challenges associated with modding. We package our solutions for the community in a way that studios can own and personalise.’
As the only service that enables modding across multiple game playing platforms – PCs, consoles, mobile devices and virtual reality (VR) – mod.io has become a pioneer in taking UGC to a new level in the digital games industry.
All power to the gamers
mod.io has built a unique, plug-in technology for all game engines, including game engines created by Unreal and Unity. Adaptability is core. Studios can integrate mod.io plug-in technology with their games and have them up and running in hours.
mod.io is also planning to help monetisation. This will help modders to make money from their creativity.
‘Opening the door for creator rewards will allow many players to double down on their own UGC,’ says Reismanis. ‘Monetisation will give players great content to explore and play. And it will encourage studios to focus on enabling more UGC possibilities, with better tools and events.’
From a US$1 million seed round to US$26 million
The company’s first big break came in 2019 when mod.io raised US$1 million of seed funding from Finland-based Play Ventures.
‘Play Ventures is a highly respected early-stage gaming focused investor,’ says Reismanis. ‘They will be one of the first to back you if they think your idea is built on sound assumptions. Getting the stamp of approval from an investor like Play proved we were on the right track.’
From 2019, mod.io made steady commercial progress. The company raised a further US$5 million in December 2020. This time the investment was led by Makers Fund and Sequoia Capital India’s Surge.
Then in November 2021, mod.io. gained a massive boost. The company raised US$26 million in Series A funding.
China-based internet and technology company Tencent led the investors, along with Denmark-based Lego Ventures. Many of mod.io’s earlier investors also took part.
By early 2022, mod.io had 100 games live, and the mod.io platform served 17 million pieces of content per month to 4.5 million players.
A small studio goes global
Today, mod.io works directly with some of the world’s biggest gaming companies. It employs approximately 35 people, mostly in Melbourne. mod.io also has overseas employees in France, Finland, the UK and the US.
‘SnowRunner by Sabre Interactive, Humankind by Amplitude Studios and SEGA, Skater XL by Easy Day, and TABS by Landfall are a handful of the diverse range of games live on mod.io today,’ says Reismanis. ‘Most of their creators and players are from Europe and North America, though the beauty of UGC communities is their ability to captivate the imagination of anyone.’
mod.io’s success shows that small Australian startups can impact the global games industry. Reismanis says that his company’s success reflects Australian innovation and ambition.
‘Australian gaming companies have always been quick to market,’ he says. ‘We are a great place to build and test new concepts. That’s partly down to our culture: Australian gamers are always hungry for new ideas.’
Go further, faster with Austrade
International games companies are investing in the Australian games industry.