Social gaming company CrowdStar is teaming up with the incubator which it was spawned from, YouWeb, to launch a $10 million venture fund, called the StarFund. The fund will make investments in promising mobile game developers.
Game developers can apply to receive up to $250,000 in initial funding to develop their mobile games, if they are selected as part of StarFund. CrowdStar, which just raised $23 million in new funding, will also offer marketing, international distribution, and analytics resources to teams those games show promise.
Interestingly, CrowdStar CEO Peter Relan (who also launched YouWeb) tells us that the fund is also meant to be a way of acquiring talent. Relan explains that while Zynga makes outright acquisitions for talent, CrowdStar is taking a slightly different approach to attracting game development talent by funding fledgling game developers. Relan also said that the investments may not necessarily be equity-based, and will be distributed and structured based on the needs of the developer.
The fund is focused on mobile, because this has been a particularly important strategic opportunity for CrowdStar. The company is looking to expand to additional markets through mobile games and recently launched its first mobile-only game Top Girl.
Other YouWeb incubated companies have implemented a similar model and seen success. Mobile social gaming platform OpenFeint (which was incubated within YouWeb, spun off and then acquired by GREE) partnered with Chinese gaming company The9 to fund game developers building off of the OpenFeint Android platform. Since that launch in March, the partnership has produced and helped fund the development of 50 games in 30 app stores.
And other gaming companies are launching independent funds as well. Mobile gaming company TinyCo just launched a new $5 million investment fund, called the TinyFund, to help support mobile game developers.