We’d been hearing for a while that Storybricks, the AI gaming startup co-founded by serial entrepreneur Rodolfo Rosini, had picked up a major client win since pivoting to license its technology to games studios. We just didn’t say who, in case it hadn’t closed, except to describe the potential partnership as of “jaw-dropping magnitude”.
Today, the cat is out of the bag. In its latest newsletter, Storybricks confirms that it is collaborating with Sony Online for EverQuest Next, the latest sequel to the highly successful EverQuest franchise. Jaw-dropping indeed for a six-person company.
Late last year we reported that after a failed Kickstarter campaign Storybricks was pivoting. Gone was the company’s super-ambitious mission to create a new browser-based MMO that would let users turn stories into games. Instead, harnessing much of its core tech, the startup was aiming to build the best artificial intelligence (AI) engine for online games by giving characters emotions — and licensing this engine to third-parties. And now it seems that Sony Online — specifically EverQuest Next — will be the first title to benefit from Storybricks’ AI boosting technology.
The announcement, via the company’s newsletter, is very short on details. Instead it teases: “After several months of working together with Sony Online, we can finally reveal that we are collaborating on EverQuest Next. EQN is ‘the biggest sandbox ever designed’ and we are extremely happy to be working on the most innovative MMORPG under development.”
It goes on to state that the company “can’t give any specifics about what we are doing on EQN yet”, except to say that it is “doing remarkable things”.
Curiosity never killed this cat, so I tracked down Rosini over email to push for more information about the startup’s partnership with Sony Online. “Sorry we can’t talk about it yet,” he wrote with uncharacteristic reserve. When pressed, however, he did reveal that the collaboration is generating significant revenue for Storybricks and isn’t royalty-based.
It wasn’t the only deal on the table, either. Rosini says that lots of games studios were interested in working with the startup, but they could only embark on one project of this size. “EQN could be the most important game of the next 10 years,” he said. “We could not let this opportunity pass.”
Finally, returning to form, Rosini signed off with the following: “Also there are [a] few VCs who are hardcore Warcraft players and certainly I enjoy being able to have access to the new new MMO before them.”
Well, they do say that money can’t buy you everything.