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After Five Years, 5th Planet Games Says Yes to More Money

Haven't heard of 5th Planet? Here are three million reasons why you might soon.

5th Planet Games, which makes free-to-play Facebook titles like Dawn of the Dragons and Clash of the Dragons, said today that it had raised its first round of outside funding in five years of existence — $3 million in growth capital from DCA Capital Partners and Moneta Ventures.

In the Sacramento exurb of Rocklin, Calif., 5th Planet’s location alone makes it unique among California’s other gaming startups, which tend to be clustered near Los Angeles and San Francisco. But, also uniquely, it actively avoided taking outside money for years, with an independent attitude of “we’ll make games for ourselves.”

“It was a nice badge to wear,” 5th Planet President and COO Braden Moulton said in an interview with Re/code. “We control our own destiny, we own our own mistakes.”

However, after a couple years of rapid growth, revenue was flat between 2012 and 2013, coming in at around $10 million in both years. That’s pretty good, but Moulton said he wants the company to be more like Kabam, which in 2013 grossed $360 million, up from $180 million the year before.

“It felt like we were as far as we were gonna get on our own,” Moulton said. The 70-person company plans to use its new capital to ramp up marketing and get new games out faster.

In fact, it’s been two years since 5th Planet launched new IP, although like many free-to-play gaming companies it treats its games as live services with regular content updates to keep players coming back. Moulton said getting smarter about how to manage those services is on the list, since to date 5th Planet hasn’t retained a dedicated analytics expert.

“Kabam has a team of probably 50 people who do nothing but toy with Excel spreadsheets and min-max the stats,” he said.

In the next three months, 5th Planet plans to launch at least two games. While previous titles were made for Facebook and the flash game portal Kongregate, the new ones are being designed to be mobile-first, Moulton said.

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