While businesses in many sectors bore the brunt of Covid-19 and many are still reeling from it, Reworld, a UGC game creation platform, caught investors’ attention. In May, the platform secured RMB 300m in a Series B funding round from Joy Capital and an unnamed internet company. Just 12 months ago, Joy Capital had led Reworld’s RMB 100m Series A funding, with Northern Light Venture Capital and ZhenFund participating.
China’s first open platform for game developers, Reworld is powered by its very own interactive physics engine, the first and only one in China. It is also one of few UGC sandbox games in the Chinese market. It has hosted over 3,400 games and more than 1,800 creators on its platform.
In sandbox games, players can, to a certain degree, design the games. Using a physics engine, creators can, without the need for any coding, simulate the laws of physics, such as a rock falling to the ground naturally under gravity.
Reworld founder Xing Shanhu is a pioneer and a serial entrepreneur in the gaming industry. He believes the platform’s physics engine will give 3m game developers and hundreds of millions of regular players an opportunity to showcase their creativity.
“50 times more efficient”
Reworld’s platform has two parts: a games editor powered by its physics engine and a platform where users publish games, or play demos and interact with each other. The physics engine significantly lowers the bar for game developers.
Li Ganjun, a Reworld user, said: “As the engine developers have already built a set of physics rules embedded in an API package, we don’t have to pay too much attention to the physical laws and are able to focus on game design."
The platform has more than 20,000 pre-designed items in its library which developers can use to create their own game. While an amateur developer can create a 3D game within two days after two to three hours of online tutorials, Reworld is also a handy tool for professional developers,
According to co-founder Yao Guangshi, the Reworld platform makes game creation 50 times more efficient. "A 10-day workload for a team of 10 can now be done in one or two days by one to three developers,” said Yao.
Yao said the latest funding, which came amidst the pandemic and gloomy VC landscape, “shows that UGC [game] platforms are being acknowledged by the capital market.
“We are sure to see some star developers rising with works [created using Reworld] that will become even more classic than DotA [Defense of the Ancients] and Chenghai 3C,” he added, referring to two of the most popular video games ever.
No fees for two years
Major corporations in the gaming industry also enjoyed noticeable growth in revenue during the pandemic. Japanese console maker Nintendo saw a 200% jump in profit from January to March this year and Tencent’s online game revenue increased 31% year on year in the first quarter of 2020.
Yao, who described Reworld as the TikTok of the gaming industry, wants to democratize and extend game creation from “professional gaming companies to mass players.” Once a demo is tested, the creator can easily publish the game on Reworld’s platform via its website or mobile app. Developers can also publish their design items, games and codes in their personal store on Reworld for others to try out or pay to use.
Creators can also directly engage with players on Reworld’s platform to receive feedback and advice on their games and form networks and even create a virtual world, where they can invite their friends to hang out and have fun. Reworld has also initiated an online community for creators and interested players to exchange ideas and thoughts on game development.
Reworld wants to attract more users to learn game development and has promised not to charge creators any fees in the first two years. Creators will also be able to keep all the revenues that their games generate on the platform.
Game developers can also get monetary rewards from the platform, which has a budget of RMB 15m for monthly prizes to outstanding game creators. Over 120 games have received the reward in the first three months of the platform’s launch in May last year. A third of the winning games were created by college freshmen.
Over 30 university partners
Although it is a gaming and development platform, Reworld has, since day one, emphasized its potential to educate as it can also be used as a tool to create presentation materials for science courses, simulation for architecture design and scientific research in extreme environments and computer applications.
Reworld has partnered with over 30 universities including Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts, Sichuan University and Hunan University of Science and Technology. Reworld provides the courses and teacher training for college students to learn subjects like arts design and coding in a fun and easy way.
The focus on education is also part of Reworld’s strategy to monetize from its platform. Besides in-game purchases and membership fees, the platform is exploring potential income from tie-ups with education and training agencies. “We expect education companies will develop and sell courses via our platform. So we can profit as the service and technology provider,” said Dong Yupeng, co-founder of Reworld.
Reworld is also signing up contract developers to cultivate and maintain a talent pool. A qualified contract creator will, depending on their level, receive a monthly base salary from RMB 500–2,000 once the games or demos they create and submit are approved. Their work will be evaluated monthly and the best performer will receive a cash award of RMB 10,000. The contract developers can work anywhere and anytime.
Right now, Reworld is in no rush to make profit and is focused on gathering and maintain a pool of quality talent. "The priority is to nurture more game creators within 12 to 18 months," said Dong.