We are thrilled to announce that a16z Games has led the Series Seed investment in Snapser, a games backend technology company poised to become the de facto platform for games studios.
Twenty years ago, game studios had to develop their own game engine in addition to designing and developing their game. This process is analogous to a filmmaker having to craft their own camera equipment to shoot their movie. The technical complexity, time and cost associated with building an engine before the game constrained game development to a small number of well funded studios. The emergence of Unity and Unreal Engine in the 2000’s democratized game development to any passionate player who aspired to become a creator and made it a no brainer for a studio to outsource.
Today, games are profoundly social experiences enjoyed across many devices and platforms. Connected multiplayer games require leaderboards, identity systems, cloud storage of players’ game state so a user can resume from another device, and many other backend services. While outsourced game backend solutions emerged in the early 2010’s, many studios still feel the need to build a fully custom backend system, despite the cost. These developers fear technology lock-in with inflexible managed APIs that do not fit the specific needs of their game. Studios’ attempts to glue together select off-the-shelf microservices with in-house components leads to data fragmentation and ongoing maintenance requirements.
Ajinkya “AJ” Apte, CEO & co-founder of Snapser, and Jason Davidson, CTO & co-founder of Snapser, have deep knowledge of game backend needs having spent a combined 26 years at Zynga where they architected the Zynga platform, which is responsible for services like payments, storage, leaderboards, etc. used across all Zynga’s titles. These scalable systems continue to handle billions of requests every day. AJ and Jason also have extensive experience leading engineering teams on franchises like Zynga Poker, FarmVille, and Words with Friends.
The Snapser team of three, AJ, Jason, and Vineet Pandit (ex-Google), are building a platform that combines the ease and speed of an off-the-shelf API and the extensibility of a custom backend while allowing the studios to retain complete code and data ownership. Snapser accomplishes this feat by letting developers pick from a catalog of fully customizable microservices while also allowing developers to “bring your own” code, data, servers, and cloud and “Snap” them into a custom backend with a unique SDK.
We believe in AJ and team’s quest for Snapser to become the Unity/Unreal equivalent for the gaming backend, enabling anyone to build a connected game through a flexible yet powerful solution.
Joshua Lu is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz on the A16Z GAMES investing team, focused on game studios and the intersection between games and social applications.
Andrew Chen is a General Partner and founding investor at A16Z GAMES, focused on metaverse, VR/AR, and gaming investments.
Troy Kirwin is an Investing Partner with A16Z GAMES where he focuses on the tech, tools and infrastructure to power games and the metaverse.