Kamcord, a live streaming service for mobile games, is entering Japan and Korea today with the launch of localized iOS and Android apps. In a bid to lure in users in these new markets, the startup is bringing a number of Japanese and Korean mobile gaming YouTube stars on board to promote it.
Founded in 2012, San Francisco-based Kamcord was born as a software development kit (SDK) that allowed mobile game developers to add gameplay recording to their iOS titles. The function gave mobile gamers the ability to share their epic tapping and swiping skills on social media at a time when “Let’s Play” videos by the likes of PewDiePie were starting to take off on YouTube.
Kamcord added Android support in 2013 but pivoted away from the record-and-share model to Twitch-esque live streaming in July this year. It’s raised nearly US$25 million to date from 33 investors – including the likes of Y Combinator, a16z, and Marissa Meyer. The startup most recently raised a US$15 million series B round led by Japanese mobile gaming giant GungHo and joined by Tencent, Wargaming, and Reddit executive chairman Alexis Ohanian.
“Japan, Korea, China, and the US are the four biggest countries in the world by mobile gaming revenue,” Aditya Rathnam, Kamcord co-founder, tells Tech in Asia. “We’ve already put ourselves in a very strong position in the US and want to build on that momentum with aggressive international expansion. We think a lot of other players in the mobile live streaming space – and social space in general – expand internationally too slowly and give clones an opportunity to gain a foothold. We don’t want to make that mistake.”
Aditya wouldn’t share Kamcord’s daily or monthly active user count, but he says the top stream since July – a two-hour Boom Beach stream – saw nearly 200,000 unique viewers. Daily active users spend an average of 20 minutes a day on the Kamcord app.
“That’s in the same ballpark as Instagram and Snapchat,” Aditya says. “We see high retention and engagement because we’ve signed so many amazing mobile gamers – all five of the biggest Clash of Clans YouTubers, for instance. Users are fanatical about these top broadcasters.”
For Japan, Kamcord brought on Sasuke, one of the top Puzzle & Dragon YouTubers with nearly 350,000 subscribers and just under 120 million total views. In Korea, the startup snagged Ddotty, a Minecraft player with over 500,000 subscribers and 310 million views. Several other gaming personalities from both countries (see top image) have also officially teamed up with Kamcord. Aditya says that fewer than 20 percent of broadcasters are compensated, but ordinary users are also keen to build an audience on a new platform.
“They realize [it] will be very valuable when we roll out monetization,” he says, adding that the startup is not yet earning revenue. Kamcord’s apps are currently free, but advertising and in-app purchases will likely be deployed down the road.
As for future expansion, Kamcord is considering China, Southeast Asia, and Europe.
It’s hard to tell how Kamcord stacks up against its rivals. Twitch rolled out mobile game streaming in March 2014 and remains more popular with PC and console gamers. DeNA, a Kamcord investor, launched a live streaming app called Mirrativ in August. Currently for Android devices only, Mirrativ allows users to live stream anything on their screen – not just games. Perhaps the most direct competitor is fellow California-based startup Mobcrush, which raised US$11 million in September.
Aditya doesn’t sound very worried.
“One of our users, Galadon, got 64,000 followers in less than four months on Kamcord,” he says. “He has 22,000 followers on Twitch. Twitch entering mobile gaming is like LinkedIn trying to get users to upload their vacation pictures. It’s not going to happen.”
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