The success of Roblox and other user-generated game experiences like Overwolf democratized the concept of the game industry and brought it into the mainstream. Now, a startup founded by veterans of Unity, Microsoft and EA that’s building a new platform for creators to build immersive games, and related communities around like-minded people, is poised to launch later this year. Prior to that, it discloses a good $50 million financing.
Yahaha Studios, a startup based in Espoo, Finland with R&D headquarters in Shanghai, has yet to launch a commercial product. But it describes what you’re building as a “game metaverse” without code, where people can come together in communities to build and play games that combine virtual and real-world elements.
To be clear, the $50 million I raised isn’t new funding: It was raised in a six-month period, across three rounds, nearly two years ago, all in 2020.
The company told me that “Round 1” was led by 5Y Capital; “Round 2” was led by HillHouse, and “round 3” was led by Cotoi. Early investors participated in the subsequent rounds, and other backers include ZhenFund, Bertelsmann Asia Investments, BiliBili and Xiaomi. Funding, as we have emphasized, estimates Yahaha in the range of $300 million to $500 million (“a few hundred million” is the phrase we used when we asked).
While Yahaha Studios may still be about to launch, in the meantime it has been quietly running the Discord community with a small group (around 220) of early adopters. The company told me that an alpha version of the product will be launched in the second quarter of this year. A company spokesperson told me he does not plan to raise more funding before then.
The word “Metaverse” is quickly becoming an overused word, and a number of companies are claiming to be making their way into this mysterious space, promising to combine augmented and virtual reality technologies to create entirely new types of digital experiences, gaming and more. Yahaha seems to have managed to stand out from the crowd, and find investor interest early on, for several reasons.
First of all, there are the company’s founders – Chris Chu (CEO), Pengfei Zhang (COO) and Hao Min (CTO) – who worked together as engineers on the multi-platform game engine Unity, with years of experience behind them.
Zhang has lived in Finland for 15 years, and that’s how the company got started there, but that’s not the only reason Yahaha was founded in Espoo: With companies like Supercell also originating in the Helsinki suburb, there’s the strength of the region’s ecosystem to build teams and tap into gaming innovations. new.
The company confirmed that the Yahaha platform was built in partnership with Unity, a link that will in turn help create more creators and more cross-platform games and communities.
Second, there’s the concept behind Yahaha itself, which focuses on two popular topics in tech right now: user-generated content and codeless development. UGC has been a popular part of online entertainment for decades at this point, but platforms like TikTok and Instagram have really led to a new focus on “creators,” people who build huge audiences and businesses around the content they create.
While platforms like Twitch and Discord have made game players famous, we haven’t had much in the way of platforms that make it easy for creators to build huge communities around actual games (Roblox partially addresses this but doesn’t feel like it as a social platform). This is what Yahaha seems to be hoping to become, and if it works, it could be something very interesting.
Meanwhile, building the platform on a “no-code” framework is what will help get Yahaha used by more people. While a lot of the no-code applications have been in the enterprise IT space (where people can, for example, easily build integrations between CRMs and accounting software), it’s interesting to see more of them making their way to the consumer focused community-focused private service. creators.
“Achieving a $50 million investment is very exciting for us,” CEO Chris Chu said in a statement. “hahahaha The studios play a major role in delivering the next generation of entertainment as the metaverse continues to grow. Connecting users around the world through virtual entertainment, Yahia It offers a unique creative and social experience for game developers and gamers alike. via Yahia We empower creators at all levels, from certified developers to those making their first game. Anyone can be creative in our virtual world. We are really looking forward to the full launch this year, growing our team and bringing to life the first phase of our vision for the future of content creation.”