Realtime Snags $31 million in VC

Founded by David Jones of Grand Theft Auto fame, the company will use the money to recruit talent and create game franchises

Dundee, Scotland-based developer Realtime Worlds, founded in 2002 by Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings creator David Jones, has announced that it's secured $31 million in financing from leading venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

Realtime Worlds said the investment will enable them "to build new industry-leading video game franchises and recruit top programming and game development talent from around the world."

The major investment also seems to be part of a larger partnership between NEA and Realtime Worlds, as Patrick Chung, NEA Principal, and Harry Weller, NEA Partner, have joined the company's board of directors. Ian Hetherington, founder of Psygnosis and former CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, will still remain Chairman of Realtime Worlds, however.

"NEA has spent three decades seeking out and backing the world's most visionary entrepreneurs," said Patrick Chung. "We are honored to have the opportunity to work with David Jones and his team as they create revolutionary new games. We're convinced that they will continue to attract, develop and retain extraordinary talent by offering the opportunity to work alongside some of the most inventive minds in electronic entertainment."

"Extraordinary things are on the horizon for us as a result of our partnership with NEA," commented an enthusiastic David Jones, CEO of Realtime Worlds. "We are developing a global centre of excellence for some of the world's best games developers that is really quite breathtaking. Together with NEA, we will use this investment to build on the quality of Crackdown and All Points Bulletin and to build new gaming experiences for game consoles, such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and PC online as well."

Hetherington added, "NEA is a thought leader in the global investment community. The quality of this commitment is a reflection of the technological and creative ability that exists at Realtime Worlds. We look forward to the opportunities that this relationship will mean to our growth."

Jones' GTA and Lemmings franchises have become two of the most popular series in gaming. The two franchises have reached combined global sales of more than 70 million units, generating over $2.5 billion. Jones and the rest of the Realtime Worlds team, which also includes Tony Harman, former Director of Development and Acquisition at Nintendo of America, hope to achieve a similar level of success with the abovementioned Crackdown and All Points Bulletin. Crackdown will be Realtime Worlds' first title when it's released some time in 2007—Microsoft Game Studios will publish the game for Xbox 360. As for the massively multiplayer online title APB, Korean MMO specialist Webzen has the publishing rights and will release it on the PC and Xbox 360 (no release date announced yet).