Noice has raised $21 million to revolutionize social gaming with a combination of livestreaming and multiplayer gaming in one platform.
This capital injection marks a big moment for Noice as it charts a course to transform livestreaming by engaging viewers as active participants within the gameplay experience, said Jussi Laakkonen, CEO and cofounder of Noice, in an interview with GamesBeat.
The investors include a notable lineup of seasoned entrepreneurs, including luminaries behind successful companies like Supercell and Wolt. The investor roster features key Mikko Kodisoja and Ilkka Paananen, co-founders of Supercell; Miki Kuusi and Riku Mäkelä, cofounders of Wolt; Petri Järvilehto, cofounder of Seriously Entertainment; and Laakkonen, cofounder of Noice and Applifier.
Professional investors, including Sedona Holdings, Team Builder Ventures, Bitkraft, and F4 Fund, have also joined the funding round. To date, the company has raised a cumulative $27 million across two funding rounds, including the earlier $5 million seed round.
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The company will use the funding for promoting the platform and growing its team.
“Livestreaming is expensive, both from operating the platform but also coming into market as an unproven entity,” he said. “You have to make sure that people can trust you, which means potential minimum guarantees or commitments for creators to try out a new plan. So it’s marketing, these type of guarantees, development, and operating costs.”
A fusion of gaming and livestreaming
Laakkonen was previously executive vice president at Unity. He cofounded Applifier before that and sold it to Unity in 2014. That gave him the funds to invest in Noice as well and to incubate it for multiple years. He said Noice distinguishes itself as a multiplayer game and livestreaming platform that transcends conventional boundaries. The platform reimagines livestreaming by seamlessly integrating viewers into the gameplay as active participants. The closed beta, scheduled to commence later this month, promises to unveil the mechanics of this groundbreaking approach, with further details available at noice.com.
Besides Laakkonen, the founders include Jenni Wilson, creative director. She is a seasoned lead game developer who previously worked at SocialPoint and Seriously.
Another cofounder is Jaakko Lukkari, CTO and former principal software engineer at Unity’s Operate division. Lukkari also joined Unity after the acquisition of Applifier.
Remote-first workplace with hub in Helsinki
Noice embraces a remote-first work culture, employing a diverse team of 70 individuals spread across the globe, including Finland, the UK, the United States, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, and South Africa. The heart of the operation is in Helsinki, Finland, with 50 team members there.
As a testament to its roots, about 25% of the team members share a history with Applifier, dating back to its startup phase and extending into the post-acquisition era at Unity.
With this infusion of capital and a leadership team, Noice believes it can revolutionize the gaming and livestreaming landscape, creating an immersive experience that blurs the lines between players and spectators.
For further insights, an exclusive online preview event is scheduled on November 20.
“I really believe we’re onto something We are revealing a little bit of what we’re doing now and all of it in two weeks,” Laakkonen said. “Today, we’re announcing that Noice is a multiplayer game and a livestreaming platform. So we are reimagining what it is like to be a user of livestreaming.”
He noted that livestreaming so far has been mostly consumption. You passively watch. Sure, you can enter chat commentary but you’re not really participating, Laakkonen said.
“It’s mostly a spectator experience where you are consuming content. We’re looking at it and saying what happens if the viewer is a player,” Laakkonen said. “How does this whole experience change? And then we build the platform around that core insight.”
Laakkonen said that this startup is very personal for him.
“Sometimes good ideas come when you’re trying to solve your own problem,” he said.
He was on a sabbatical and on a ski vacation with his sons. He was watching Twitch and he was watching esports. He watched a team that was an unknown group playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. They began doing better and made it to the grand finals.
“I was literally whooping and hollering, jumping up and down and cheering my team because I had one small piece of that. It was amazing. It was such an emotional roller coaster. They eventually lost. But, man, what a run. I was so mesmerized by this one team and their Cinderella story. But I was so disappointed that I couldn’t do more than to spectate,” he said. “How can I participate? How can I be more than consuming this? I am watching them. Why am I not playing? The roots of this are the disconnect of the emotional rollercoaster of highs and super lows, of high engagement and not being able to act. That led to Noice.”
He wanted to make Noice into the first livestreaming platform that puts the user first. The company began brainstorming in March 2019, but it was incorporated in August 2020. In the summer of 2020, Laakkonen was brainstorming about the name. They had a couple of hundred options on a notepad. Then he mispelled “noise” as “noice.” People liked it because it was positive.
“We want you to be the star of the show,” he said. “You are playing the game progression. You are an actor. You’re going to have meaningful choices. You have a great multiplayer game. This will make a lot more sense in two weeks. I have been chasing this idea for 4.5 years.”
In this case, Laakkonen took time to fully build out the experience and get things right like the visuals, gameplay and depth of the metagame as well as the thinking that has gone into monetization for creators. The focus for Noice will be on engagement for creators and players. And Noice wants to partner with game developers.
“We’re trying to tackle all the right domains with Noice,” he said. “Gamers will have quite a bit of creative control. We’re also inviting game developers to explore what we can do together.”
The company did an early pilot test and found there was something to the idea. The COVID happened and the company slowed down. It hired more people and built its first prototype in February 2021. After that, they started building out a complex product for gamers, creators and game developers.
Noice is a multiplayer game where your interactions are not limited to just chat. You are a player in a multiplayer game that takes place simultaneously while you watch. It’s fun to watch, but even more fun to play as well.
November play event
In late November, Noice will start spreading the word far and wide. The team will open the doors in a controlled fashion and make sure people have a great experience. So it will start with invitations and then get bigger.
“Maybe there’s a tagline maybe for us, like, what if a game game developer reimagined tweets as a game?” he said. “That is kind of what has happened here. When you are an industry outsider, you can question things from first principles. Why is it like this? Why isn’t it something different? Then you just go and do it.”
Noice will talk soon about monetization. But Laakkonen said that if your game is engaging, then you can monetize the game. It’s a multiplication of three factors: engagement, retention and the type of monetization vehicle. That adds up to money.
“We’re increasing engagement by making a multiplayer game,” he said. “We are making it more sticky and retaining people through our metagame and through people forming friendships on the platform. And we have monetization vehicles.
“I had a quite a bit of a rollercoaster show with Applifier. We started as a Facebook games developer. And then we did the cross promotion network, which exploded on Facebook. And Facebook for games died, and we had to be able to compete in mobile. Then we were acquired by Unity, then that became Unity Ads, which became a multi billion dollar business. And the company listed.”
Why is he doing it all again?
“I think that was twofold. One, it was this really personal, an idea that I really wanted to see happen because I wanted something for myself,” he said. “And I guess I’m an entrepreneur. I think there’s more to be done. I want to do it with many people who have worked with me before. So the highest compliment you can get as a leader is the people who have seen you, day after day over the years, at your best and at your most average and everything in between and then they come back for more. They say let’s do it again. It’s really motivating to be building this with such a great team. It’s Noice.”
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