Last year, Epic Games rode the incomparable financial success of “Fortnite” to a $15 billion valuation. As a result, the entire interactive entertainment industry has sought to replicate the company’s flagship offering—an online game that attracts and consistently engages a vast audience.
One such firm is Singularity 6, a startup that just received a $16.5 million cash injection led by powerhouse venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. While the online gaming sector is highly competitive, the firm’s ambition to build a “virtual society” is highly intriguing.
What Does Singularity 6 Want to Build?
In an interview with TechCrunch, Singularity 6 co-founder Anthony Leung explained that his firm is currently developing a rather audacious product. The team is building “a world that begins to tackle the community simulation space, and that’s really combining a strong virtual community with deep and compelling gameplay.”
In effect, Singularity 6 is developing a title that will bridge the gap between games and social media. Admittedly, the history of interactive entertainment is full of titles that attempted to connect those two interests. Since 2000, Electronic Arts has sold 200 million “The Sims” titles to gamers who enjoy the simulated life. Moreover, “Second Life” became a sensation two decades ago by giving consumers a virtual world in which they could construct a robust simulated existence.
However, the developer isn’t looking to retread the past with its inaugural title. Instead, it’s building a game that fuses the narrative of an MMO with the mundane joys of a social simulator.
Leung named “Animal Crossing” and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” as influences for Singularity 6’s unnamed debut. The firm also intends to create a sophisticated artificial intelligence system that gives life to in-game characters. With it, players can form nuanced relationships with the title’s cast as well as other gamers.
If the company can release a game with that caliber of immersion and engagement, it could be a “Fortnite” killer.
However, the startup will have to overcome some major technical hurdles to bring such a game to the market. Leung told TechCrunch that Singularity 6 has to develop its own new tech to facilitate its MMO/social simulator. He also mentioned that the game’s release is “still a ways out.”
Andreessen Horowitz Bets Big
It might seem odd that Andreessen Horowitz is putting so much money into a studio that’s never released a game. However, the venture capital firm likely sees a lot of potential in the developer because of its pedigree. Before Leung and his partners formed Singularity 6, they worked for “League of Legends” publisher Riot Games.
Furthermore, the firm knows that the online interactive entertainment sector is incredibly lucrative. Statista reports that the global online gaming market is worth $12.69 billion. The firm predicts that this value will rise to $14.03 billion by 2023—an increase of 10 percent. With Singularity 6’s bold ideas and experienced founders, Andreessen Horowitz believes the studio can capture a significant portion of that market.
Meanwhile, the venture capital firm has also invested in companies that are building the innovative digital infrastructure that Singularity 6 needs. In 2017, Andreessen Horowitz joined SoftBank in investing $502 million into an English tech startup called Improbable. The firm’s core product is a cloud-based platform that allows third parties to build vast yet seamless virtual in-game worlds.
While Singularity 6’s debut title is still a long way away, the new funding helps promise an immersive, unique game for players to enjoy when it does release.