Digital services company Garena has acquired Phoenix Labs, makers of free-to-play monster-battling title Dauntless. We learned of the news via GamesIndustry.biz, which scored an interview with Phoenix Labs co-founder Jesse Houston to break the news, which, as of this writing, can’t even be found on the company’s or Dauntless web sites.
(UPDATE: Jesse Houston has posted a letter on the Dauntless site.)
Garena is based out of Singapore and it’s served as a publishing partner for Firefall, Heroes of Newerth, Path of Exile, Blade & Soul, and other games in Southeast Asia and Taiwan. Its primary self-developed game is Free Fire, a mobile battle royale game that has grossed over $1 billion in revenue, enjoying its greatest popularity in India, Indonesia and Brazil.
“Free Fire has been a hit in regions where we are not yet strong, and where we have aspirations of being strong,” said Houston, who has plans to expand Dauntless’s reach: “the next frontier for us is mobile, and then there are a number of emerging markets we want to attack.” While Phoenix Labs was a venture-backed company, and there was some pressure to cash out, he said it hadn’t yet reached a critical point. “You never want to sell when you need to sell, and Dauntless is going great this year.”
As for what this means for the future of Dauntless, Houston said that Garena will “largely going to leave us alone and will bankroll our growth” and that his team is “entirely focused on Dauntless right now.” Houston himself will be staying on with the company for the foreseeable future, saying that “I don’t think people get it when I say I want to retire here. I actually do.”
All of those are, of course, what a company head has to say when he gets bought out — that everything will stay the same and nothing bad will happen. Phoenix Labs and Dauntless have comprised one of the better success stories through the past few years, though, so this is a case where I actually take Houston at his word. If, on the other hand, you feel compelled to issue doomsday proclamations … well, you know where to find the comments.