Forge is a new short-form gameplay video platform that allows gamers to share favorite moments with friends across the Forge network, Twitch, or YouTube. The company has drawn the attention of both gamers and venture capitalists, having just added another $4.5 million in funding led by True Ventures, and including Social Capital, Resolute Ventures, and WME Ventures. That brings the total amount raised to $9 million.
Forge CEO Jared Kim launched his first company, WeGame, in 2007 at age 19. He raised $3 million in venture capital and sold the social discovery platform to Tagged in 2011. He returned to the game space in February 2016 to continue exploring the games industry. [a]listdaily talked to Kim about his new company, the role it plays in social media, and how eSports figures into the equation.
How does Forge work?
Forge is both a PC desktop client and a web application. To share gameplay, you simply install Forge and launch a game. We seamlessly capture everything you do in-game as video. There is no setup required, settings to tweak, or noticeable gameplay performance impact. We make everything as seamless as possible by auto-detecting the optimal settings for a gamer’s machine.
Gamers can share highlights instantly by using our in-game overlay or after they are done playing. Forge highlights are limited to 5 to 30 seconds, which we’ve found is the sweet spot for the simplest experience of sharing and consumption for this kind of content.
Forge highlights are automatically shared to your Forge profile and viewable at forge.gg. Additionally, you can share your highlights to external networks like Twitter.
In April, we also launched the ability to stream your gameplay to Twitch and YouTube Gaming in seconds. While you are streaming, you can still create and share highlights just like before.
What’s the business model for the service?
Right now, we’re very focused on creating the best experience around sharing gameplay. We have some exciting ideas around monetization, but ultimately our highest priority is developing a great community and marrying that with a monetization model that fits best with it when the time is right. Forge only launched publicly a little over three months ago, so we feel it’s a little premature to try to force a monetization model on it right now. One thing I can say with certainty is you won’t see traditional banner ads or video pre-rolls / post-rolls you typically see on gaming video sites today.
What does Forge open up for brands and sponsors interested in PC gamers?
We’ve had some discussions with developers, publishers, brands, and sponsors since we’ve launched. Forge enables more people to capture and share their gameplay, which creates interesting community engagement opportunities that didn’t exist before.
We don’t have anything to share right now but there are some interesting partnerships we will be announcing in the future. However, as mentioned previously, we are not going down the path of just throwing ads on everything. We’re really focused on helping power authentic experiences for and by gamers.
How do you see Forge fitting in the current ecosystem dominated by Twitch, Facebook and YouTube?
We like to think of Forge as the next evolution of the “gamer’s camera.” If you look at the evolution of traditional cameras for instance (e.g. film to digital to camera phones), each time a major technological shift happens and friction is reduced, you see a huge wave of new creators enter the ecosystem who previously didn’t create and share due to the prior complexity involved with it.
By making sharing gameplay easier than it ever was before, we believe we can help empower and unlock the next wave of gaming creators, which is not only great for Forge, but everyone in the ecosystem.
What differentiates Forge from anything else out there?
It boils down to simplicity and ease of use. We’ve turned a process that would have taken a normal user hours or days of setup to get right when using a tool like OBS (the most popular open-source tool for game capture and streaming) and reduced it down to seconds. Forge is able to do this by automating a lot of the setup and configuration by using algorithms to determine the optimal capture quality, resolutions, bitrates, closest servers, etc.
A good example is our livestreaming integration with Twitch and YouTube Gaming. You can take a look at the setup guide for getting started on Twitch with OBS and you will see what most people have to deal with. With Forge, it is literally seconds and a few clicks.
Who’s using Forge from a demographic standpoint?
Almost 40 percent of our users are from the US and more than 60 percent of our users are from English-speaking countries. Our users are mostly male in the 18-34-year-old age group.
What type of engagement are you getting from these users?
We focus a lot on how often our users create and share highlights, which is what we view as a sign of true engagement. Today our users are creating one highlight per 80 minutes of gameplay, which is an improvement from our private beta phase, where it was around one highlight per 200 minutes of gameplay. Our introduction of in-game highlighting was a big factor in that improvement.
What role do eSports games play for Forge and its users?
Competitive games like the ones found in eSports typically have a high number of “shareable moments” (e.g. kills, goals, etc). Almost every game in the top 10 games on Forge is a major game in the eSports ecosystem and as that market grows, so will the opportunity for Forge.
How will you be using the recent funding?
Our top priority is bringing the best engineering and product talent into the company, and this new funding helps us accelerate that.
What are you applying from lessons learned from previous startups to Forge?
I started my last startup WeGame when I was 19 and now I’m 28. My biggest lessons are:
- A great team means everything.
- Always make sure everyone in the company understands and is aligned with the vision and strategy.
- Stay focused.