Game development can be a grueling task, with designers and engineers working inhumane hours to ship games under tight deadlines.
The process is known as the crunch, and until recently it was accepted as a necessary evil in the video game industry – with triple-A studios justifying the workload with high-selling titles, like the series. Treyarch’s “Call of Duty” or Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us II”, which saw employees work more than 12 hours a day.
After years of working at EA Games and its subsidiary DICE, the founders of FuzzyBot Games decided that the industry needed to get rid of the crunch for good.
FuzzyBot Games has raised a $ 3.5 million funding round largely from European investors, he said this week. The funds will be used to start making his first game, this time with as little crunch as possible.
CEO Tatyana Dyshlova said in a statement that FuzzyBot is trying to shake off the “inflexible high-crunch culture” of most major game studios.
Dyshlova co-founder and creative director Max Spielberg worked with her at DICE. FuzzyBot is now a team of ten, and Dyshlova said she will use most of the funding to hire new developers and grow her team of at least five.
Sensor Tower analyst Craig Chapple said the pandemic has prompted many companies to reassess work-life balance as people start working from home, including game developers.
“The development crisis has long been a subject of close scrutiny in the games industry,” said Chapple. “More and more developers started to think about best working practices following an unforeseen shift to remote working, as the already complex process of making games was suddenly upset and new wrinkles were introduced. “
Chapple added that employees are more likely to stay in jobs where their personal time is valued.
“The heightened rhetoric this has created around the crisis will hopefully benefit hard-working employees, but will also help companies retain talent,” said Chapple.
FuzzyBot is not disclosing the title of its next game or its release date. The company said it would be a “long-lasting” title that would mix the combat and repetitive levels of a typical roguelike dungeon robot game with the open choices and progression typical of a game of dungeon. life simulation, like “Stardew Valley.” ”
BITKRAFT Ventures, based in Berlin and San Francisco, led the round. Finnish investors Sisu Game Ventures and 1Up Ventures, based in Washington, also participated.
Sisu Ventures also backed Finnish company Small Giant Games, which was acquired by San Francisco-based mobile game company Zynga in January 2019.
FuzzyBot is trying to mix two genres of games to create a new one, which could be a risky bet or a very rewarding bet. Malta Barth, partner of BITKRAFT Ventures, told dot.LA he invested because he believed the former EA team had the wherewithal to shake up the industry.
“The ambition of FuzzyBot is to synthesize a new genre of games,” said Barth. “When a game development company can succeed with such an attempt, it has the potential for significant revenue growth.”
Isolation during the pandemic has led gamers to increasingly turn to multiplayer games that have a strong social component.
While there is no data for the new genre of games that FuzzyBot is targeting, Chapple said subsets of it are gaining momentum. Chapple said Sensor Tower measured an increase of around 34% in the number of gamers using simulation games on mobile devices during the first half of this year, making it the fifth fastest growing genre. in terms of income.
During the first half of 2021, games like “Fortnite” “Roblox”, where players can create collaborative worlds, boosted spending. On iOS and Android, users paid around $ 1.1 billion, thanks to in-game purchases.
BITKRAFT wants to go further in simulation. He has already supported other social game startups including Manticore Games and Pocket Worlds. He was also one of the original backers of developer “Fortnite” Epic Games.
FuzzyBot chose European investors because the region values a healthy work-life balance, more than North America. EA is partly based in Sweden, and while working there, Dyshlova realized that there might be a better way to make games than endless sleepless nights, as the company was focused on a culture without crisis.
“There are a lot of video game companies from Sweden, it’s a very creative country, but they have a great balance between leaving work and then focusing on family, friends and hobbies.” said Dyshlova. “We have connected very well with investors based outside of Europe who share some of these values.”
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