AI anime worlds created by players? I could scarcely think of a more timely game to develop than one that houses the tools to do that and judging by the $15m Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), I’m not alone in seeing the value.
The gaming world is no stranger to the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI). From enhancing graphics to optimizing gameplay, AI has steadily permeated every facet of the industry. But when combined with the global passion for anime, AI’s potential seems limitless. And Pahdo Labs, backed by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), is set to tap into this potential like never before.
The Rise of Anime and its Dominance in Gaming
Anime in gaming wasn’t all that prevalent until recent years, but it is now bordering dominant. Genshin Impact, the open-world ARPG, is staggeringly successful in Asia, but it has spread to other continents. In fact, anime games have been on a sharp ascent — as well as anime shows and films — and a16z’s announcement blog post for the investment they made in Halcyon Zero developers, Pahdo Labs, has some wonderful evidence:
- 69% of Gen Z watches anime
- Half of Netflix’ 222 million subscribers have watched anime
- Time spent watching anime on Netflix increased by 20% in 2021
- VTubing, where streamers use anime avatars, is up 350% on Twitch
- In 2022, 20% of mobile gaming spend ($17 billion) was on anime games
Pahdo Labs: A Dream Turned Reality
Founded in 2021 by Daniel Zou, Pahdo Labs started as a passion project in an Irvine apartment. Zou, along with a team of game devs united by their love for anime and RPGs, relocated to New York to dedicate themselves to the art of game creation. Their commitment caught the eye of a16z, leading to a $15M Series A funding round.
In our blog post, we share how we got here, what our product will be, and the plan for our Pre-Alpha I playtest. https://t.co/X2ewpLMk2o
— Pahdo Labs (@PahdoLabs) September 12, 2023
Daniel Zou’s journey from a young online RPG enthusiast to the founder of a promising game studio should act as an inspiration to all indie developers out there! He envisions Pahdo Labs as a platform where players find both a sense of belonging and the thrill of creation. With a heartfelt message, Zou invites fans and followers to join the Pre-Alpha 1 playtest and be a part of the Pahdo legacy.
What Is Halcyon Zero? Where AI Meets Creativity
Halcyon Zero by Pahdo Labs is a next-gen anime RPG built on Godot with fast-paced, action-centric gameplay reminiscent of the successful anime RPGs we know. It will also be cross-platform with both PC and mobile, and remember how significant anime games are on the mobile platform!
Pahdo Labs represents a modern game studio in several ways, including the use of TikTok to build their initial fanbase. However, at the heart of Pahdo Labs’ vision is Halcyon Zero is user-generated content (UGC) which has become central to the modern titans of gaming such as Roblox and Fortnite, and so on. This game offers robust level-building tools enhanced by AI and procedural generation, lowering barriers for players. This could empower every player to be a game designer, creating anime-style worlds that are both stunning and interactive, gated only by the player’s creativity.
Final Thoughts: AI Anime Is So Gen Z and That’s Great
There are several takeaways from this news, with the prevalence and success of anime games — really anime as a whole — being one that will stay with me. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel this is another thread to how AI can enrich UGC in games and how it could make for some incredible content for players.
Even if you aren’t a fan of anime and are suspicious of AI, Pahdo Labs’ idea for Halcyon Zero makes a lot of sense, and given the long list of investors, it is clearly more than just a “good idea”.