Series Entertainment acquires mobile studio Pixelberry

Series Entertainment, a fast-growing AI game development company, has acquired interactive fiction mobile game studio Pixelberry.

Best known for its chart-topping Choices: Stories You Play, Pixelberry has been around since 2013, when it was founded Oliver Miao, Keith Emnett, and Winston She.

It seems like a mismatch, unless you believe AI is going to change gaming in a big way. The acquisition signifies Series Entertainment‘s strategy to build out its studio system to deliver a diverse catalog of different genres that leverage its world class development technology, the Rho Engine. The combined company will have more than 120 people, said Pany Haritatos, CEO of Series Entertainment (previously Series AI), in an interview with GamesBeat.

“Pixelberry has been a category leader in the interactive fiction genre,” said Haritatos said. “We love story-based games and Choices has long been a  leader in the genre. With our cutting-edge technology, we will be able to take Choices to the next level, with bigger books, new interactive features, and ever-improving story quality, all designed to serve the things the Choices community wants.”

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Pixelberry’s games have been played by more than 300 million people.

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Pixelberry specializes in creating story-driven, episodic mobile games that engage with players on a range of social topics and themes. Choices: Stories You Play is a category leader on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, and is home to hundreds of unique, original stories that have been enjoyed by millions of players around the world.

There is a lot of hype around AI and games now. Haritatos believes a lot of the other companies are looking at individual steps in the workflow and are either trying to reduce costs or change part of the experience. There are, for instance, apps that do generative 2D art. But Haritatos thinks that tech in that space is not well suited for production-quality art. Devs can use AI to conceive a product, but they have to execute it using traditional game development pipelines.

That’s where you are seeing a lot of AI tools settle, he said. And there are tools for brainstorming.

Pany Haritatos, CEO of Series AI.
Pany Haritatos, CEO of Series Entertainment (formerly Series AI).

Series Entertainment, backed by top investors such as A16z and Bitkraft, is also working on several other games, with more details to be revealed later this year.

Most recently, Series Entertainment announced the proprietary Rho Engine, the world’s first AI-native, multimodal full-stack game creation platform. The Rho Engine helps Series’ game development team create best-in-category game experiences faster than ever before.

Started by former Kongregate and Snap executive Pany Haritatos, the team is on a mission to build the best studios, powered by a new standard for game development processes leveraging its RHO Engine.

Regarding changing the name of the company, Haritatos said, “I think it better reflects where we’re going as a company. We definitely spent the first year focused on building out our cortex. But as we see the next couple of years ahead of us, increasingly, it’s going to be consumer focused and delivering great games and entertaining experiences to end users.”

He added, “And so we wanted to make sure that the company branding better reflects our ambition, and also the types of products, our partners, our community, our team. We’ve rebranded to emphasize that we’re not just a technology company. We are also a company that’s creating great games.”

In fact, Haritatos said that he believes AI companies will eventually lose that identity the same way that dotcom or internet companies just became companies.

The company has created its generative game engine that is heavily focused on story creation, story generation, productivity tools around building great interactive fiction experiences.

“When we look at the capabilities that we have, and then our desire to get into the content side of the business and bring products out to end users, we looked at the various tools out there and the categories that were interesting, we saw a lot of partnership opportunities,” he said. “Pixelberry was reallly at the top of the list in best in class creators that use tech to serve their communities.”

Haritatos said the companies will spend a few months building technology integrations. Haritatos said the company will both build its own studios and look outside as well for more partnerships. The goal is to apply the tech across genres and other categories of games. He expects the company will do more deals like this one in the future.

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