success of roblox And other user-generated gaming experiences such as Overwolf have democratized the concept of game-making and taken it mainstream. Now, Unity, a startup founded by Microsoft and EA veterans that is building a new platform for creators to create immersive games, and related communities around like-minded people, is set to launch later this year. . Before that, it’s disclosing a healthy $50 million in funding.
yaha studioA Finland-based Espoo startup with R&D based in Shanghai has yet to launch a commercial product. But it describes what it’s building as a code without a “metaverse for games,” where people can come together in communities to create and play games that mix elements of the virtual and real world.
To be clear, the $50 million it raised is not new funding: It was pulled together over a period of six months, in three rounds, almost two years ago, all together in 2020.
The company tells me that “Round 1” was led by 5Y Capital; “Round 2” was led by Hillhouse, and “Round 3” was led by Coteau. Early investors participated in the latter round, and other backers include ZenFund, Bertelsmann Asia Investments, Bilibili and Xiaomi. The funding, which we’ve confirmed, values Yahaha in the range of $300 million to $500 million (“a few hundred million” is the phrase we used when asked).
While Yahaha Studios may still be months away from launch, it’s going quietly in the meantime. discord community With a small group (about 220) of early users. The company told me that the alpha version of the product will be launched in the second quarter of this year. A spokesperson told me that it has no plans to raise further funds.
The “metaverse” has very quickly become an overused term, and many companies are in this obscure space with their promises of combining augmented and virtual reality technologies to create entirely new types of digital experiences, gaming and I claim to have blazing trails. Otherwise. Yahaha seems to have managed to stand out from the crowd, and has quickly gained investor attention for a few reasons.
First, are the company’s founders – Chris Zhu (CEO), Pengfei Zhang (COO) and Hao Min (CTO) – who all worked together as engineers at Unity, the cross-platform gaming engine, with years of experience behind them. Is.
Zhang has been living in Finland for the past 15 years, and this is how the company got its start, but that isn’t the only reason to base Yahoo in Espoo: companies like Supercell, also originating in the Helsinki suburb, have a strong team building. and ecosystem in the region to tap into new gaming innovations.
The company has confirmed that the Yahaha platform was created in partnership with Unity, a link that will in turn help drive more creators and onboard more cross-platform gameplay and communities.
Second, is the concept behind Hereha, which focuses on two popular topics in technology at the moment: user-generated content and no-code development. UGC has been a popular part of online entertainment for decades at this point, but platforms like TikTok and Instagram have actually put a new focus on “creators,” people who build huge audiences and businesses around the content they generate. are.
While platforms like Twitch and Discord have taken celebrities out of game players, we don’t really have much in the way of platforms yet that make it easy for creators to build massive communities around real games. (Roblox partially addresses this but doesn’t feel like a social platform). That sounds like what Yahaha is hoping to be made of, and if it works out, it could turn into something very interesting.
Building the platform on a “no-code” framework, meanwhile, will help Yahaa potentially be used by more people. While a lot of no-code’s applications have been in the field of enterprise IT (where people can, for example, easily build integrations between CRM and accounting software), it’s interesting to see it make its way into consumer-focused software. making a way. services, specifically to serve maker communities.
“It is incredibly exciting for us to secure a $50 million investment,” CEO Chris Zhu said in a statement. ,Yeh: As the metaverse continues to grow, studios will have a vital role to play in bringing in the next generation of entertainment. Connecting users around the world through virtual entertainment, yahaha: The game offers developers and gamers alike an unparalleled creative and social experience. through yahaha: We’re empowering creators at all levels, from established developers to those making their first games. Everyone can become a creator in our virtual world. We are really looking forward to fully launching this year, growing our team and bringing to life the first phase of our vision for content creation for the future. ,