AI powered character engine Inworld AI has raised $50 million in a new funding round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from the likes of Samsung Next, Stanford University, and LG Venture Technology.
Inworld’s technology allows developers to create AI-driven NPCs, imbuing them with additional depth and realism and allowing for more immersive in-game experiences.
The funding round brings Inworld’s valuation to over $500 million, making it the best-funded startup at the intersection of gaming and artificial intelligence. The company will use the funding to hire top talent, invest in infrastructure, accelerate research and development, and launch an open source version of its character engine.
“Inworld’s commitment to open source is a testament to our belief that collaboration fuels innovation,” said CTO and co-founder Michael Ermolenko. “Working with the open source developer community, we’ll push forward innovations in generative AI that elevate the entire gaming industry.”
Funding the future
The new investment follows the company’s work on AI-driven non-player character experiences with the likes of Niantic 8th Wall, NetEase’s Team Miaozi, and LG UPlus, as well as in community-driven mods for the likes of Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto V. The company also demonstrated a ‘Droid Maker’, created in collaboration with ILM Immersive, at the 2022 Disney Accelerator Demo Day.
“In a platform shift like AI, ‘generational’ companies won’t only incrementally improve upon existing workflows with faster, better, or cheaper tools; they will create completely novel, previously impossible user experiences - like Inworld,” said Lightspeed Venture Partners partner Moritz Baier-Lentz, who is joining Inworld AI’s board of directors.
“The next generation of games will be judged by how immersive the experiences feel,” said Inworld CEO and co-founder Ilya Gelfenbeyn. “The Inworld Character Engine offers a transformational shift that brings characters to life with realistic emotions and dialogue, adding richness to the stories and worlds they occupy. Populating experiences with characters that behave with convincing real-time responses and actions will play a substantial role in getting us to the promise of truly interactive entertainment.”