Game streaming startup Rainway raises cash, adds Gaikai founder and Xbox pioneer as advisors

(Rainway Image)

Video game streaming startup Rainway is raising more cash and bolstering its advisory board.

The Seattle company just reeled in another $3.5 million, adding to its seed round from last year. Investors include Bullpen Capital (which led the latest round); Madrona Venture Group; GoAhead Ventures; and Bill Mooney. Total funding to date is $5.2 million.

It also recently brought on David Perry, former CEO of game streaming company Gaikai (acquired by Sony for $380 million) and Jon Kimmich, a longtime Microsoft leader who helped launch the original Xbox.

Rainway allows users to stream video games from personal devices to any other machine, as long as it has a browser and can run video at 60 frames per second. The 3-year-old company graduated from Techstars Seattle in 2018 and made its official launch on the Windows platform last year.

“Whether you’re at your gaming PC, or laying on the couch with your iPad, it allows you to play, download, create, share, connect, whatever you want, in just the press of a button,” said Rainway CEO Andrew Sampson.

Rainway plans to grow its team of 15 and bring its service to new platforms such as iOS (in beta), Android, Xbox, and more.

Perry pointed to the shift from physical media to digital media — and now to streaming media, across industries such as music, radio, books, TV, and more.

“I have a secret agenda advising companies like Rainway, because I believe when the best games the industry can make are as convenient as movies and TV, then video games will be the most dominant form of entertainment ever created, in both time spent and dollars generated,” Perry told GeekWire.

Rainway CEO Andrew Sampson. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Rainway finds itself in the same sphere as giants such as Microsoft and Google that are building their own game streaming platforms. Sampson lamented Google earlier this year after the company unveiled its Stadia project, noting Rainway’s head start.

Sampson said Rainway differs from Stadia or Microsoft’s xCloud because it is “entirely decentralized” and compatible with various digital distributors and hardware providers.

“That is different from Stadia, which still requires you purchase games, but Google provides the hardware in the cloud,” he explained. “That makes for an exciting user experience; however, performance may vary based on your distance to the nearest Google data center. You also lose out on things that make PC gaming so great like modding, which brought us some of the most popular games we know and love today.”

The company plans to unveil new extensions that will “shake up things in PC gaming,” Sampson said.

“Party, for example, is a feature we’re creating that allows users to host multiplayer lobbies for any game, inviting both friends and strangers to come play with them instantly on any device,” he said.

Previous attempts to build a streaming service for video games include OnLive, the company founded by Steve Perlman that launched in 2010 and was officially discontinued in 2015.

Rainway wants to build a “personal Netflix for games,” Sampson said.

“It allows us to build incredibly optimized low-latency streaming and provides users with the agency they deserve over their existing PC game collection,” he said of the service.

Kimmich, who spent 16 years at Microsoft, said game streaming is “all about meeting gamers where they are, with whatever games and devices the have.”

“Playing whatever I want or have, wherever I want on whatever device I want, with who I want,” he said. “Andrew and the team at Railway get that, and proved they have the chops to pull it off.”

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