Andreessen Horowitz, a reputable venture capital firm, has spearheaded a $15 million Series A investment round in Pahdo Labs, the masterminds behind the promising anime RPG Halcyon Zero and a user-generated content (UGC) platform where players can craft their personal anime worlds using artificial intelligence tools and procedural generation. You can sign up for the playtest that commences on September 27th.
- Pahdo Labs at the forefront of democratizing anime game creation.
- Halcyon Zero, an innovative multiplayer crossplay game in development.
- Pahdo’s community-building initiatives garnering millions of views on TikTok.
- Expertise and leadership under Daniel Zou, a former engineer at Robinhood and Anduril Industries.
- Anticipation builds for Halcyon Zero’s pre-alpha playtests.
@pahdolabs be a part of our story – be one of the first to play our game and give feedback straight to our team, link in bio #anime #animegame #indiegames #gamedev #startups #genshinimpact ♬ original sound – Pahdo Labs
Origin Story on Pahdo Labs
On September 12, 2023, Pahdo Labs, a game development studio based in New York, announced that it raised $15M in a Series A financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz, also known as a16z. Other supporters included Pear VC, BoxGroup, Long Journey Ventures, Neo, and Global Founders Capital. The company had previously secured $2.5M in seed financing from angel investors Kevin Hartz, Mark Pincus, and Cyan Banister.
Pahdo Labs was founded in 2021 by Daniel Zou in his Irvine, California apartment. Initially a small group of game developers who connected online during the pandemic, the team later relocated to New York to fully dedicate themselves to game development. Their focus is on creating an anime and action RPG-inspired virtual world that empowers players to craft their own realms. The team has grown to include 21 full-time members located globally in cities like New York, Vancouver, South Korea, and Berlin, collaborating with industry veterans from renowned companies such as Riot Games, Capcom, and Electronic Arts.
Their upcoming project, codenamed Halcyon Zero, is being developed atop the Godot Engine. It is an isometric anime fantasy RPG and a user-generated content (UGC) platform, where players can explore cities and towns, venture into wilderness areas riddled with Chaos, and challenge bosses in order to uncover the secrets behind Chaos. The game, which emphasizes teamwork and fast-paced combat, will feature a pre-alpha version offering four hero classes: Spellblade, Enchanter, Witch, and Spitfire. At its launch, it will present a range of anime-inspired heroes and will be available on various platforms including PC, iOS, and Switch. Pahdo Labs is actively encouraging anime and action RPG fans to participate in pre-alpha playtests starting in September 2023.
Moreover, the game aims to foster creativity among players by offering robust level-building tools enhanced by AI and procedural generation technologies, allowing them to design their own game maps and modes, central to the player’s experience and the game’s narrative.
In addition to their game development, Pahdo Labs has garnered a substantial following on TikTok, showcasing early stages of game development and sharing glimpses of their team’s office life in New York. The content on their official TikTok account, @pahdolabs, and their founding Head of Product’s account, @1indaqin, is aimed not only at potential players but also individuals aspiring to venture into game development, hoping to encourage them to become future creators on their platform.
Daniel Zou, the founder and CEO of Pahdo Labs, shared his personal journey, recounting his childhood experiences with online RPGs like MapleStory, Runescape, and Mabinogi. These games instilled in him a sense of agency, friendship, and purpose, and spurred his interest in technology and computer science. Through Pahdo Labs, he aims to offer the next generation enriching and rewarding social and creative online experiences. Zou emphasized the mission of Pahdo Labs, which is to create a world where players have the tools to create things of lasting value, fostering both lifelong memories and a sense of pride in their creations. Zou acknowledged the challenges faced over the past three years and expressed gratitude towards their community, inviting them to join the upcoming pre-alpha I playtest.
Proliferation of Anime Globally
Anime has seen an unprecedented surge in global popularity and cultural influence. Statistics highlight that 69% of Generation Z and half of Netflix’s 222 million subscribers in 2021 indulged in anime, with the viewership escalating by 20% year-over-year. The anime domain extends to the growing trend of VTubing, where content creators use anime-style avatars for live streams, noting a significant growth of over 350% yearly on platforms like Twitch. In 2022, anime games generated approximately $17 billion, constituting nearly 20% of the total expenditure in the mobile gaming industry.
The Prominence of Pahdo Labs
Pahdo Labs is carving a niche in the gaming sector by facilitating the creation of anime games, a venture initiated with their premier intellectual property, Halcyon Zero. This endeavor is not confined to game development as Pahdo is unlocking creator tools that enable players to design their anime games, enhanced through AI and procedural generation. Their candid development videos on TikTok have already attracted millions of viewers, establishing a substantial community.
Leadership and Collaborative Efforts
Under the stewardship of Daniel Zou, previously an engineer at Robinhood and Anduril Industries, Pahdo Labs has amassed a team of proficient developers from renowned firms like Riot Games, Ubisoft, Instagram, and Google. The investment round witnessed participation from notable entities such as Long Journey Ventures, Pear VC, and Global Founders Capital, among others, showcasing collective enthusiasm and support for Pahdo Labs’ initiatives.
Anticipated Developments and Playtests
As a beacon of innovation, Pahdo Labs is set to introduce the gaming community to Halcyon Zero, fostering PC/mobile crossplay. The studio is not just developing a game but fostering a platform where anime aficionados can channel their creativity into building games. With the current momentum of anime fan fiction and the substantial financial investments by fans on merchandise, the potential for a user-generated content platform is promising.
In conclusion, the recent investment by Andreessen Horowitz in Pahdo Labs marks a significant milestone in the latter’s journey. With a focus on nurturing creativity and leveraging the capabilities of AI to redefine gaming experiences, Pahdo Labs stands as a promising venture in the evolving gaming landscape. The collaborative efforts with various experts in the field augur well for the future, potentially steering the gaming industry towards a new era of innovation and engagement.