Posted on March 21, 2019 by staff

€3.3m funding for game developer ‘discovered’ by AI


Game developer WarDucks has raised €3.3 million after being ‘discovered’ by artificial intelligence platform Motherbrain.

The AI system was created by EQT Ventures to highlight companies that have the potential to succeed.

CEO Nikki Lannen was contacted by Lars Jörnow of the investment group and the funding round has also seen participation from Suir Valley Ventures.

The funding will be used to drive the development of their new location-based AR mobile game and expand the company’s development team.

Recent appointments of global talent to work on the app include creative consultant John Romero, co-founder of the BAFTA award-winning Romero Games studio and known for his work on Wolfenstein 3D and DOOM.

Lannen created WarDucks after five years in the Facebook global games team.

“Being part of the team when it was a small opened up so many doors in terms of networking and opportunities,” she told BusinessCloud.

“I learnt about the games business as a whole and at that point Facebook’s games business was growing, then mobile games had their growth spurt too.”

The company first developed VR game Sneaky Bears, before launching a VR game RollerCoaster Legends which saw its first big success.

“It went to number two on the Samsung Gear store and was one behind Minecraft,” said Lannen. “It was like being in the music charts at number two under Beyoncé. That was definitely a very exciting time for the team.”

The team, based in Dublin, Ireland, plans to expand from 15 to 20 by 2020.

Lannen told BusinessCloud how the technology has developed through their time as a gaming company.

“On the VR side, the hardware is evolving, software is evolving also, there’s a much wider selection of what’s available in actual content on any of the VR devices.

“In terms of AR, we’re definitely seeing a huge interest as we see more popular games like Pokémon Go, people are seeing how they can use AR for their enjoyment and how games can be combined with it.”

In December 2018, EQT Ventures had its first exit when Small Giant Games, a Finnish mobile gaming studio, was acquired by Zynga Inc. in a deal worth $700m.

Prior to founding EQT Ventures, Lars Jörnow was at King Digital for six years where he set up the mobile games team that launched Candy Crush Saga in 2012.