While in college, I was fortunate to land a summer internship at the legendary video game studio Origin Systems in Austin, Texas. While at Origin, I worked on the development of Wing Commander Armada, one of the first multiplayer 3D space simulations. The game was much more fun than most games for one big reason: rather than playing by yourself against computer opponents, the game gave you the opportunity to play with your friends over a network, either competitively or cooperatively. This multiplayer capability in a real-time simulation game was novel back then.
Over the ensuing years, the digital gaming industry has seen a steady shift from single-player games to multiplayer and social games. Today, the 2 billion people that regularly play digital games do so not just for entertainment, but increasingly as a way to socialize with friends and make new friends. And game creators have realized that adding multiplayer and social capabilities to games drives better player engagement and growth, as well as superior monetization. It’s more fun to play games with other people!
However, building the tech to launch a social and multiplayer game is difficult, resource intensive, and expensive. Recruiting backend engineers with experience scaling games to millions of concurrent players can be challenging for game studios. Game developers would prefer to focus on gameplay and game design rather than maintaining custom backend systems. What’s been missing from the industry is a powerful, yet flexible backend game engine that studios can leverage to build and scale their games.
That’s why today I am thrilled to announce that Greylock led the Series A investment in Pragma, which is building a backend game engine for social and multiplayer games. In concert with our investment I have joined Pragma’s Board.
Pragma’s platform lets game studios build and scale games faster, simpler, and more reliably. The platform is a full solution providing developers with the tools needed to launch an online game including accounts, player data, lobbies, matchmaking, social systems, telemetry, and store fulfillment. It’s platform agnostic so customers can build for PC, console, mobile, VR or AR, and equips developers with code level access, the ability to own and operate their own infrastructure and data, and out-of-the-box scalability to millions of concurrent players.
Pragma was founded by Eden Chen (CEO) and Chris Cobb (CTO), industry veterans with a passion for gaming. (At one time, Eden was one of the top Warcraft III players in the US!) Eden and Chris are mission-driven entrepreneurs with a compelling vision for how Pragma’s platform can change the industry. Chris’ past experience scaling hit games like League of Legends and Bejeweled Blitz has given him a unique perspective on the challenges faced by game developers. The Pragma founders have impressively assembled a world class team with some of the best backend engineers in the gaming industry.
Pragma is currently in beta, and working with several reputable young game studios like One More Game, started by Pat Wyatt, an early Blizzard employee and a key architect for battle.net, and Mountain Top Studios, started by Nate Mitchell, founder of Oculus. They also have a starter kit that gives studios in development the tools to quickly set up a game loop and start play testing in as little as a day.
Greylock has a history of partnering with entrepreneurs building social networks and gaming platforms, and Pragma is the latest in a distinguished list of companies like Roblox and Discord. We’re excited to partner with Eden and Chris as they change the way developers build games.