Inworld AI, a leading character engine for games and interactive experiences, has recently secured new funding, boosting the company’s valuation to over $500 million. The funding round saw participation from prominent investors, including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Stanford University, Samsung Next, Microsoft’s M12 fund, First Spark Ventures, co-founded by Eric Schmidt, and LG Technology Ventures.
With total funding of over $100 million, Inworld AI now stands as the best-funded startup at the intersection of AI and gaming. The company intends to utilize the funding to accelerate research and development efforts, attract top talent, invest in infrastructure, and launch an open-source version of its character engine. Michael Ermolenko, CTO and co-founder of Inworld, expressed the company’s commitment to open source to fuel innovation through collaboration with the developer community.
The recent investment comes on the heels of Inworld AI’s successful ventures into AI-driven non-player character (NPC) experiences. Collaborations with entities such as Team Miaozi (NetEase Games), Niantic 8th Wall, LG UPlus, Alpine Electronics, and community-created mods for popular games like Skyrim, Stardew Valley, and Grand Theft Auto V have garnered significant attention. At the 2022 Disney Accelerator Demo Day, Inworld also showcased a “Droid Maker” prototype created in partnership with ILM Immersive.
Inworld’s technology surpasses traditional large language models (LLMs) and chatbots, allowing developers to bring depth and realism to AI-driven NPCs within games. The Inworld Character Engine facilitates complex and lifelike human behaviors, enhancing player immersion significantly. The platform’s multimodal character expression is achieved through multiple machine-learning models designed to mimic human communication.
In contrast to standard chatbots, Inworld’s platform empowers NPCs to exhibit a full range of human-like communication and behavior. Developers can integrate Inworld’s character brains with animation and rigging systems, even in 3D environments. Smart NPCs can learn, adapt, display emotional intelligence, and autonomously initiate actions and goals, enriching the overall player experience.
The Inworld character engine has already found integration in top game development engines and has been featured in Unity’s AI Marketplace as a Unity Verified Solution. Additionally, Inworld received an Epic MegaGrant, solidifying its position among innovative projects centered around Unreal Engine. The company’s developer platform adds artificial intelligence to Unreal Engine’s MetaHumans, resulting in compelling characters.
Experts believe that Inworld AI’s advancements in generative AI will have a profound impact on game developers and players. A survey titled “The Future of NPCs,” involving over 1,000 US gamers, revealed that 99% of respondents believed advanced AI NPCs would enhance gameplay, with 78% expressing a willingness to spend more time playing games featuring such NPCs. Moreover, an encouraging 81% of gamers stated they would be willing to pay more for games with advanced AI NPCs, signaling promising prospects for the game industry’s future. You can read more about that in our “Inworld’s report reveals that gamers are willing to pay more for intelligent AI-supported NPCs” article.