Top game industry startups scored a total $600.5 million in venture capital investments in 2009 -- but that's a significant 36 percent less than last year's $936.8 million cumulative haul.
VentureBeat looked at 97 game companies
that received investments this year -- and found that the biggest take was Zynga's recent $180 million investment
from Digital Sky, without which the picture for startups as compared to last year would have been much bleaker.
And Zynga's investment from Digital Sky actually puts it ahead of 2008's number one company, 9You, which got $100 million last year before the recession forced many investors to tighten belts.
Social game developer Zynga has benefited big from the growth of Facebook as a platform for titles like its FarmVille
. The company, which claims over 230 million monthly active users playing its games, actually appears in the investment list twice, having collected two different rounds this year.
According to VentureBeat's analysis, Playdom received the second-biggest
game-related investment of the year with $43 million. Playdom is the third-largest social game developer behind PlayFish (recently acquired by EA) and Zynga, and says it expects $50 million in revenue
In third on the investments list is Smith & Tinker, maker of the Nanovor
toy-based game, with $29 million
. The Bellevue-based company, established by FASA founder Jordan Weisman, recently laid off 30 percent of its staff, but says the Nanovor product is successful
Other companies in the top 10 include PopCap, Offerpal Media and Emergent Game Technologies.