Growing up, Selcuk Atli spent a good deal of his free time playing video games with his friends. And when I say with his friends, I mean actually with them. They're called LAN parties, where everyone brings over their consoles and the group gets to play together virtually and in real life, all at the same time.
Atli, a grown man now, still loves games, but misses the memories made during LAN parties.
That's how Bunch was born.
Bunch is a lot like Discord, but for mobile games. Users who download the game can connect with friends and join an audio or video chat with them. From there, users can choose a game to load and the whole party is instantly taken not just to the game, but into a multiplayer game session with their friends.
Today, Bunch has announced the close of a strategic investment round of $3.85 million from top game makers, including Supercell, Tencent, Riot Games, Miniclip and Colopl Next. Bunch's previous investors include London Venture Partners, Founders Fund, Betaworks, Shrug Capital, North Zone, Streamlined Ventures and 500 Startups.
Bunch has a handful of first-party games on its platform to ensure that new users have a starting-off point. However, one of the biggest challenges of scaling is creating relationships with third-party game makers to eventually integrate that deep linking technology into the Bunch app.
With this new money, Bunch finds itself under the arm of a handful of some of the biggest mobile game publishers in the world. This new funding also brings Bunch's total financing since launch to $8.5 million.
This isn't the first time we've seen a company try to bring the nostalgia of '90s gaming into the 21st century. Discord has made quite a name for itself in the gaming world with a platform that allows gamers to communicate before, during and after a game.
However, Discord is more targeted at PC gamers, and is meant to give users the chance to meet and communicate with other gamers, rather than just hopping on a call with existing friends.
TeaTime Live, founded by QuizUp founder Thor Fridriksson, is another competitor focused squarely on mobile. However, TeaTime Live is going hard into Snapchat-like filters and avatars for video chat. And, like Discord, TTL wants users to meet other gamers, not connect with their IRL friends.
Bunch is primarily focused on connecting gamers with their actual friends. Once you've both loaded into a game, Bunch keeps running in the background to power voice chat. By focusing on real friends, Atli believes the impact of Bunch can be much greater for both users and the games themselves.
In fact, Atli says that user retention on a specific game grows 1.3 times with every new friend added on the platform. Indeed, between Day 7 and Day 30, Bunch Cohorts' retention rates are 2x the retention of normal players, according to the Bunch CEO.
For now, Bunch is focused entirely on user acquisition and scaling to more games, but could see an opportunity to generate revenue through a subscription or in-app purchase model around premium Bunch features.