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Ex-Zynga developers have raised $2.5 million for their new studio

Three former Zynga developers have raised $2.5 million to build out their new gaming studio, JuiceBox Games, on the back of the release of their first gaming title HonorBound. With 3 million downloads and counting, JuiceBox’s first game is already generating revenue for the company. The game is ranked 94 on the list of top-grossing apps with a daily revenue estimate of $14,726 and 2,261 daily downloads, according to the site, ThinkGaming. Those numbers were attractive enough to ensnare a clutch of top venture capital investors like Initial Capital, General Catalyst, Index Ventures, and Mavron, and individual investors like Zynga founding team member Scott Dale and former Electronic Arts chief executive John Riccitiello.

A trio of former Zynga Inc. employees who started their own mobile gaming venture in 2012 called JuiceBox Games Inc. have raised $2.54 million in a priced seed round led by Initial Capital, the company told Venture Capital Dispatch. The company’s first game, “HonorBound,” is now available for iOS, Android and Kindle mobile devices. The game asks players to build and train an army, fight battles against other players’ squadrons, capture heroes and lead troops to victory. The game is rated “low-maturity.” Overall, JuiceBox wants to make what it calls “mid-core games with a soul” that can be played on tablets and smartphones, says Chief Executive Michael Martinez, typically by male gamers from ages 18 to 34. The company is making straightforward free-to-play mobile games that generate revenue through in-app purchases only. JuiceBox’s games do not take advantage of sensors in mobile devices that can allow for location-aware game features, for example, or screen tilting and other more physical uses of a tablet or phone for game play. Such features, Mr. Martinez said, can be “fun to play the first time but not the 10,000th time.” JuiceBox, which currently has 19 full-time employees in San Francisco, closed its seed funding round in mid-2013, before the company had completed and made any of their games available. Mr. Martinez was previously a senior product manager at Zynga best known for his work on Zynga Poker and Farmville. His co-founders are Chief Technology Officer Jason McGuirk and Zak Pytlak, a former Zynga engineer and art director, respectively.

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