Posted March 11, 2024

The games industry has a cost problem. Over the last decade, we’ve seen record growth in player demand driven by several tailwinds, including: the rise of mobile and emerging markets, new business models like free-to-play and subscriptions, transmedia storytelling, and much more. Yet that growth has come with a price in the form of rising game development budgets. Players today expect more from their games than ever before – more content, higher levels of polish, better graphics, multi-platform support, multiplayer that just works – all of this has become table stakes to find success in games.

Costs have risen proportionally to content. A recent UK CMA report shared that the average AAA game green-lit today has a development budget of over $200M. This is a ~20x increase from a $10M average budget for a single platform game in 2010. The original Final Fantasy VII released in 1997 took up 1.3GB in hard drive space. The recent Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, a modern re-creation of the same game, clocks in at over 150GB and only covers 1/3 of the original game. Furthermore, a shift to mobile and live service games means that content development is never truly done – a successful game launch quickly turns into a content treadmill to release monthly updates and DLC / expansion packs to retain players.

One way that developers have addressed rising costs has been to rely on outsourcing. Most studios today outsource substantial parts of game production, ranging from concept art, to asset production, to the design of entire levels. Work is handled by a network of contractors and co-development teams, many of whom are located in lower-cost regions. These partners, dubbed “work-for-hire” studios, are the unsung heroes behind many of our favorite games.

Against this backdrop, we’re excited to announce our investment in Kaedim, a new type of co-development platform providing AI-powered art outsourcing. Kaedim’s initial product is turning 2D images into ready-to-use 3D assets – today the company serves over 20k new creators each month, and 250 enterprise developers, including many of the largest AAA game studios, film production companies, and e-commerce platforms. Kaedim takes a unique human-in-the-loop approach to 3D asset generation, empowering a team of in-house tech artists with machine learning tools and the latest generative models to speed up asset production while lowering costs. The company recently launched a 3D asset marketplace with over 10k assets, and longer-term, plans to make their artist tools and workflow available to customers directly in an end-to-end creation pipeline.

CEO & founder Konstantina Psoma grew up in Athens, Greece watching her father build his own software company and her mother immerse herself in art. She’s been passionate about the intersection of AI and art since her days at the University of Bristol, where she completed her Masters in Deep Learning. Konstantina founded Kaedim in her final year at university after talking to several game developers, including Aardman and Rebellion Games who would become her first backers. Since then, it’s been a pleasure getting to know Konstantina as she’s hired a great team and scaled Kaedim from a university project into an enterprise-class solution. With Konstantina’s relentless focus on customer value, we believe Kaedim will play a critical role as a next generation co-development platform for many of our favorite games and apps to come.