PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

No Code, No Problem: AI Startup Jabali Simplifies Gaming Development

Artificial intelligence (AI) startup Jabali wants to create a game engine that allows anyone to turn ideas into games without needing to code.

“Our mission is to democratize the creation of games,” Vatsal Bhardwaj, Jabali’s founder and CEO, who previously led product development at Microsoft and Meta, told PYMNTS in an interview. The company just got $5 million in funding.

“We see the opportunity right now to create this ChatGPT movement for video games, which will enable talented creatives, talented game developers, game designers, and really passionate gamers to make video games end to end.” 

The gaming market is soaring, reaching $184 billion in revenue in 2023. And while hundreds of titles are released annually, development costs are high. Blockbuster game budgets are expected to exceed $200 million in the coming years, from an average of $50 million to $150 million last generation and $60 million in 2014. Jabali hopes to reduce the cost and complexity of game development by using AI. 

AI to Reduce Costs

Jabali integrates advanced generative AI technologies, including widely used and open-source models, with its own custom technology to facilitate content creation within video games. The company also employs established cloud computing and gaming technologies to support the operations of its AI-based game engine, reflecting a blend of current tech trends in video game production.

Bhardwaj said he envisions a future where small teams or individuals can create sophisticated video games using their AI-powered toolset, dramatically reducing the need for large development teams. By simplifying the workflow and consolidating the required tools, Jabali aims to make the game development process more efficient and accessible, ultimately becoming a key player in the game creation ecosystem.

Jabali is currently in the development phase, and it plans to invite a select group of customers to start using its product in the second half of 2023. The company is particularly interested in partnering with smaller teams and visionary game designers who want to innovate and create games built with AI from the ground up as it begins to put its technology into users’ hands.

While various products simplify specific aspects of game development, such as story generation using tools like ChatGPT or image creation with platforms like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, Jabali’s CEO believes that few companies have reached a level of maturity in their attempts to streamline the entire game development process using AI.

AI Promoting Creativity

The CEO of Jabali believes AI will revolutionize the gaming industry significantly, surpassing the impact of smartphones on mobile gaming. Bhardwaj envisions a future where AI empowers developers to create highly realistic game worlds with interactive characters and adaptive storylines that respond to player decisions.

He anticipates this technology will fundamentally transform existing game genres and styles, suggesting that traditional formats like role-playing games and battle royales, such as Fortnite, will evolve into entirely new gaming experiences.

Moreover, AI’s impact extends beyond the games themselves. Bhardwaj anticipates that AI will revolutionize game development and player experience from beginning to end. Players will have greater agency and control over their gaming experiences.

Notably, the cost of developing high-quality games is expected to decrease significantly. The days of half-billion-dollar budgets, such as that of Red Dead Redemption 2, may become a relic of the past as AI technologies enable more efficient and cost-effective game development processes.

“In the very short term, I believe we’ll see people using AI to iteratively improve the kinds of games being made today — same genres, same styles, just created cheaper and faster,” Bhardwaj said.

“But as we start to understand the creative potential of generative AI, we’ll witness a reimagining of existing genres and the emergence of entirely new ones that we haven’t seen before. Most importantly, AI will grow the pie for creators and give players a lot more choice and interesting games compared to what we have today.”