Iconic AI raises $4M for AI game development

The new funding will be used to expand the core team, enhance R&D capabilities and accelerate the release of Iconic AI’s first game.
Iconic AI raises $4M for AI game development

Iconic AI, the London-based games studio which specialises in AI-driven game development, has closed its oversubscribed $4M Pre-seed round. The round was led by HodlCo, with participation from FOV Ventures, Interface Capital, Deepwater Asset Management, and scout funds from Sequoia and Atomico. Angel investors included former senior executives at DeepMind, OpenAI, Disney, Tencent and Microsoft.

By reducing production costs and time through AI integration, Iconic hopes to create innovative and immersive games more efficiently. 

The gaming industry generates revenues four times greater than the film and music industries combined. However, many studios have been forced to close or downsize, making it difficult for incumbents to remain profitable and challenging for new entrants to compete. This situation has driven a wave of consolidation, highlighted by Microsoft’s recent $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

Founders John Lusty and Junaid Hussain met in 2023 and decided to build an AI-first studio for the modern age, assembling a top-tier team combining expertise in game development, creative production, and deep tech R&D from the likes of DeepMind, Rockstar, Pixar, and Sony. Their aim is to integrate advanced AI into both game development and gameplay, creating novel, immersive, and cost-effective gaming experiences,.

John, who made his first game at age five on a Commodore PET, has worked with Ninja Theory, Square Enix, Oculus, and Five AI. 

The team includes Martin Connor, who has designed games at Rockstar, Guerrilla Games, and Playground Games, and Marcus Fielding, whose 20-year career spans leadership roles at EA, SEGA, and Zynga. Piotr Trochim, with experience in AI and animation at CD Projekt for The Witcher II, and AI research at DeepMind and Meta, leads applied AI. Kieran Donaldson joins as VP of engineering, having spent seven years working on generative animation at NaturalMotion on games such as Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, alongside LucasArts. Johnny Venables rounds off the team as VP of Art, with a track record of heading up projects at the likes of Improbable and Microsoft.

“Besides fulfilling my dream of playing games at the office all day, I saw a generational opportunity to combine proprietary R&D and unmatched storytelling to create a new category of gaming that defines the future of immersive entertainment,” said Junaid Hussain, Founder and President of Iconic AI.

Commenting on the investment, John Lusty, Founder and CEO of Iconic AI, added: “This funding will enable us to prove we can redefine game development, and challenge the misconception that AI is here to replace, rather than enhance, human creativity. Our goal is to push the boundaries of interaction and immersion for our players, while making work more interesting and secure for developers.

"We believe our approach will create more jobs while elevating each individual on a team to have more impact and influence on the game they are making. Our belief is that by harnessing AI, smaller teams can become as efficient as, if not more efficient than, the largest video game developers, allowing them to create dozens of games. We are excited to continue this journey with the support of our new partners.”

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