AI startup brings virtual characters to life in gaming, metaverse
AI developer platform company Inworld AI has announced the close of its Series A funding round, raising an additional $50 million to to populate video games and the metaverse with interactive AI-driven characters. The company aims to bring characters to life for gaming, metaverse, and business applications.
While virtual worlds have become more immersive, realistic, and open, says the company, interactions with characters have remained relatively static, relying on scripted dialogue and behavior.
“In the last year, we’ve seen research that shows that online relationships can be as meaningful as those formed in real life,” says Ilya Gelfenbeyn, Inworld CEO. “With Inworld, you can create gaming NPCs (non-playable characters), native populations for virtual worlds, virtual influencers, brand representatives, in-world guides, and digital humans that can forge relationships with users and unlock deeper engagement. This is the future of entertainment – stories that are told through characters with a rich inner life, that audiences are invited to participate in, and take immersion to the next level.”
The company uses advanced AI to build generative characters whose personalities, thoughts, memories, and behaviors are designed to mimic the deeply social nature of human interaction. The Inworld platform features a no-code studio that makes the creation of AI characters accessible to writers, designers, and creators. Integrations with the most popular game engines, like Unreal and Unity, are designed to make it easy for developers to deploy characters into game environments.
Since Inworld’s founding in July 2021, the company has raised a total of approximately $70 million, which includes the $50 million Series A, following pre-seed and seed rounds totaling nearly $20 million. The latest funding round was led by Section 32 and Intel Capital, and also included investments from Founders Fund, Accelerator Investments LLC, First Spark Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, BITKRAFT Ventures, CRV, Microsoft’s M12 fund, Micron Ventures, LG Technology Ventures, SK Telecom Venture Capital, NTT Docomo Ventures, and The Venture Reality Fund.
Andy Harrison, Managing Partner at Section 32 says, “Inworld’s AI platform removes the complexities of developing intelligent virtual characters with the potential to unlock a variety of new online experiences. Applications for Inworld’s platform transcend what’s possible in gaming and the metaverse alone, and enable enterprises to deliver rich, on-brand experiences with AI-powered virtual characters capable of delivering memorable user experiences.”
Srini Ananth, Managing Director at Intel Capital adds, “The demand for immersive content and experiences is rising, ushering in a thriving creator economy and unlocking opportunities for individual developers. Inworld has quickly become a trusted resource for developers, who are flocking to the platform to create AI-powered virtual characters with human-like speech, facial gestures and body language for immersive realities including the metaverse, VR/AR, games, and virtual worlds.”
Since closing its seed round in March 2022, the company released its beta product, hired Academy Award winner John Gaeta as Chief Creative Officer, and was selected as one of six companies to join the 2022 Disney Accelerator. This year’s Disney Accelerator class is focused on building the future of immersive experiences and specializes in technologies such as augmented reality (AR), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and artificial intelligence (AI) characters.