Astrocade raises $12M for AI-based social gaming platform



Astrocade AI announced a $12 million seed funding round for its AI-based social gaming platform for casual games.

The money came from AME Cloud Ventures, Nvidia Ventures, Venture Reality Fund, and gaming and tech veterans Eric Schmidt, Niccolo De Masi, John Riccitiello, David Baszucki, Jerry Yang, Mike Abbott and more. Astrocade was one of the top 25 Game Changers announced at GamesBeat Next 2023 last October.

Founded by CEO Amir Sadeghian (Stanford University’s AI Lab); Fei-Fei Li, co-director of Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute; and CTO Ali Sadeghian (ex-Google Research), Astrocade is a new form of interactive engagement never before accessible to casual gamers. They started in 2022 in Los Altos, California.

The Astrocade platform makes it possible for the next generation of creators to express their creativity in a form that audiences don’t just consume, but interact with—even inhabit—for the first time, said Amir Sadeghian, in an interview with GamesBeat.


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“It’s three passions that my brother and I both have. One is gaming. The second is social. We really like to bring people together and connect them. And the third is AI. So this was a natural intersection of all of these three areas,” he said.

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This Call of Duty version of Dean Takahashi was built with Astrocade.

Using generative AI, Astrocade’s platform allows gamers to create their own games using text-to-image prompts and load them to the community for others to play. Whether you want your game to be filled with marshmallows or battle, Astrocade can build it in moments.

Just as TikTok has inspired billions of people to become video creators, Astrocade AI aims to empower billions of people to become game creators. Using the company’s proprietary Artificial Gaming Intelligence, players use natural language to create and modify games while playing them and share the game with a single tap to fellow creators and followers.

Astrocade AI features include narrative, audio, 2D and 3D art, NPCs, and game mechanics. They’re currently in closed alpha.

“The Astrocade AI founding team shares a visionary blend of technical expertise, creative prowess, and unwavering dedication that speaks volumes to their potential,” said Niccolo De Masi, chairman at Futurum Group, in a statement. “Their innovative approach prioritizes user engagement and experience, paving the way for a new era of immersive gaming experiences that will captivate audiences worldwide.”

Origins

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Astrocade is an AI-powered social gaming platform.

Amir Sadeghian said that he and his my brother, Ali (also cofounder and CTO), moved around a lot as kids, from country to country. They always found each new place filled with excitement, new adventures, and new people.

“We were gamers, too, and that gave us a commonality with people wherever we were. But we started noticing that we were always playing in other peoples’ arenas, by other peoples’ rules,” he said. “Other gamers have this feeling, too, so as we started to conceptualize Astrocade, we saw an opportunity to create a place for people to play games like they love to do, but in their own dream worlds.”

A veteran of AI startup Aibee, Amir Sadeghian gathered other experienced AI experts, including his brother and Fei Fei Li. Amir Sadeghian always wanted to do a company around his own passion of gaming. They thought about how generative AI and large language models could benefit gaming. They focused on the creation of assets.

As technology and society evolve, they believe that they can use gaming as a way to bring people together as both players and creators in an interactive way, rather than in game-bound silos where content consumption is more passive than active.

“We want to empower everyone to create their own games and interactive experiences, from unusual and unique worlds made of marshmallows or other fantastical ideas, to familiar ones inspired by the games people grew up playing,” Amir Sadeghian said.

He added, “Social gaming is the future of people finding connection online. We already see this in how social platforms like TikTok are evolving where communities gather around creators. With gaming, we see this as a much more interactive, interchangeable experience.”

Progress so far

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Astrocade can be used to create memes.

He said Astrocade is in an exciting early phase. The team laid the groundwork for the core technology, which they are calling Artificial Gaming Intelligence. It allows users to create games through natural language, powered by AI. No need to interact with code or logic boards. Astrocade harnesses AI so that humans have the ability to expand their imaginations and create the games they want to see and play.

Astrocade is currently testing the initial product build with a closed alpha in a few select countries. This is a crucial step to get valuable feedback and refine the user experience in the alpha stage.

“You can quickly create something. This is opening so many new possibilities that we are just learning a lot about the creativity in our users,” Amir Sadeghian said. “We want to enable everyone to create.”

Unlike traditional game development platforms that require coding skills, this platform empowers anyone to create games simply by describing what they want using natural language prompts, Amir Sadeghian said.

It also can generate unique game ideas, mechanics, and even assets based on user input. The platform can tailor game experiences to individual users’ preferences and interests, leading to more engaging and relevant gameplay.

Astrocade is not just about playing games; it’s about transforming how people connect and create together.

“We envision a future where technology and human creativity merge to create immersive new virtual worlds and interactive experiences, not just passive images and text,” Amir Sadeghian said.

The team has 18 people, including contractors, and it is hiring. Amir Sadeghian noted how Instagram became so popular because the camera became so ubiquitous. Now they’re hoping to do the same for a social gaming platform, powered by AI.

You can use the platform to take different kinds of 2D games, like sidescrollers or top-down games. You can make up a topic or create one based on something well known. You can create any world that you want to imagine, or create collectible objects. The AI generates what you want to create.

“I’m really really excited with Astrocade as I think it is going to be one of the best social apps in the world because we are connecting people through fun and joy and creativity. That’s what drives people,” Amir Sadeghian said.

How good a game can people create? It depends on how much time they spend on it. But they can learn quickly if it will take off based on feedback from other players.

Over time, the company plans to build out features like lobbies for people to connect and chat with each other, as well as safety features. They want to create a social platform that stimulates the brain and creativity.

Competition

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Astrocade is working on making creation simpler.

As for competition, there are big platforms like Roblox and Fortnite. But those platforms require programming knowledge and professional experience in many ways, where as Amir Sadeghian is thinking of a user interface with natural language and something that his mother might learn.

With Astrocade AI, the goal is for everything to be generated with AI, based on your prompt.

“We are opening the funnel of creativity for everybody,” he said. “It’s been the hardest thing.”

Rather than sophisticated 3D graphics, Amir Sadeghian believes that users want immersion. This can happen with a variety of art styles. Customization and personalization are very important for users, and the final output just has to be fun, he said.

“It’s fun and joyful,” he said.



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