Jadu AR CEO Asad J. Malik has told us about their AR fighting game Jadu, talked about the idea and technology behind the project, and explained how they partnered up with Michael Bay and Snoop Dogg.
Jadu is a globally distributed team of 40 engineers, artists, and designers specializing in AR. Our team members are based in 10 different countries and have a combined total of 40 XR projects under our belts.
Our leadership team has worked at places like Blizzard and Verizon, been nominated for Emmys, and won a BAFTA. Jadu’s developers have formerly held key roles at places like Unity, Peloton, Ustwo Games, and Com2Us.
Our Art Team has contributed animation to projects like Across the Spider-Verse and Mandalorian. Their 3D/animation portfolio also includes AAA titles like God of War, Red Dead Redemption, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and game companies like Capcom, Sony, and EA. Our designers are mostly based in London and have previously worked at places like Meta’s Reality Labs and agencies like Fantasy, Huge, and Nexus.
The Story of Jadu
My co-founder Jack Gerrad and I have been working exclusively on augmented reality for well over seven years now since we were undergrad students at Bennington College. The thesis at the time was simple: AR is an incredibly unexplored but powerful medium of expression and entertainment. Our first projects were built on early AR headsets like the Microsoft Hololens and Magic Leap and premiered at the Tribeca (2018) and Sundance (2019) Film Festivals respectively.
We started Jadu in 2019 with the intention of building one ambitious project that we could stick to for years. The idea was to use mobile devices to create AR that was richer than what people were used to with social media filters and Pokemon Go. Following a series of discoveries over the years, we’ve arrived at Jadu’s current form: a next-gen mobile AR fighting game. We’re hoping to use this format of avatars fighting in the real world to introduce millions of players to the power of AR gameplay.
The Tech Behind the Project
We’ve used Unity as our real-time game engine for over seven years. We’ve built a sophisticated codebase that allows us to create AR at a fidelity not possible before.
One of our first key discoveries was to treat AR as a third-person medium rather than a first-person medium. We created a physics-based avatar control system that allows our players to play as their fighters in the real world. This means you can not only physically move around in space while playing but also move your avatar in relation to you.
We then built a novel multiplayer system that lets players remotely fight in AR. You don’t even have to be in the same room as your opponent to begin the match. We’ve been recently granted our first patent and two more are underway. Tons of other AR-focused UX interactions have been built by our team that are already being taught at new media departments at USC, UC Berkeley, and Parsons.
Attracting Investors & Celebrities
We’ve been incredibly lucky to find investors who believe in our team despite AR not being a particularly hot space for investment. This will certainly change as devices like the Apple Vision Pro start to hit the market.
My pitch for Jadu was rejected by Niko Bonatsos of General Catalyst four different times in the span of three years before they decided to fund our seed round. The key was an unwavering belief in our thesis, consistent progress, and updates, and willingness to constantly adapt to the larger media landscape.
Our investors believe that the next generation of players wants compelling immersive experiences that haven’t been possible before, AR is a medium that will only become more significant, and that our team has the experience to push it to places where it wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
Our AR is what compelled many celebrities to want to work with us. These are all innovators in their respective fields who have had their eyes on what’s next throughout their careers. When we showed them AR interactions they didn’t know were possible, they were eager to partner.
Michael Bay was incredibly generous with his time and support. He and our team worked closely on designing some of the AVAs and alien robots in the game. We even recorded an interview together exploring his passion for games, new tech, and AR.
Snoop Dogg’s advisor Nick Adler has been a huge supporter of our work and brought the project to Snoop. I recorded a podcast with Snoop’s son Champ and they’ve been genuinely excited for what we’re building.
Grimes has dropped by the Jadu Discord a few times and interacted with our playerbase. Her manager Douada and their team have been at the forefront of exploring what’s possible for artists with new tech, particularly AI.
This release is a major milestone for us. I believe this is the richest AR available on mobile right now. What’s to come next is going to continue to expand people’s expectations of what is possible with the medium.
Our team’s product velocity is incredible right now. We have weekly tournaments, gear drops planned, and a new single-player campaign mode launching next month. Early next year we’ll launch Season 1 of Jadu with multiple new characters with their own fighting styles.