The Co-Founder and COO of Yahaha Studios Pengfei Zhang told us about the company's aim to build a metaverse game creation platform with user-generated content.
Finnish team Yahaha Studios has raised $50 million in funding to build a no-code metaverse game creation platform. According to the company, users of all skill levels can use the platform to create and manage their own games as well as monetize existing ones. The platform also offers the opportunity to distribute users' builds across other platforms.
We asked Pengfei Zhang – the Co-Founder and COO of Yahaha Studios – about the company's goals, the metaverse development, and future plans.
Before founding the company, Pengfei Zhang had spent five years driving Unity's platform operations department as platform monetization director, with a focus on strategic partnerships. Prior to Unity, Pengfei was a business development manager of Finland-based startup Applifier, which was acquired by Unity in 2014. His experience with a tech giant working across international industries gave him a unique understanding of business development initiatives.
Yahaha Studios was founded in 2020 by Chris Zhu (CEO), Hao Min (CTO), and myself, Pengfei Zhang (COO). We worked together at Unity until it went public in 2020 – this presented an opportunity for us to launch our own startup, and Yahaha Studios was born.
Now, we are a team of almost 100 people, with our headquarters in Finland. We are currently focusing on product development and building our creator community, and soon we will launch early access. Creators are currently being invited to join our Discord community.
The main aim of YAHAHA is to create a social platform that supports users at all levels to create 3D interactive content. We want to democratize 3D user-generated content creation, and support people at all levels to create together. YAHAHA’s virtual world will continue to grow in the coming days, weeks, and months, incorporating digital arts, literature, music, and fashion. With YAHAHA, the only limit is your imagination.
No-Code Creation Platform
TikTok has completely revolutionized the making and sharing of creative and fun videos – it has totally democratized the process of video creation. Now, literally, anyone with a smartphone can make awesome content and quickly share it with hundreds of millions of users worldwide. YAHAHA does the same for 3D content creation.
With our modular set of services for no-code game development, we are lowering the traditional entry barriers to 3D digital content creation. This means that anyone with a creative mind can jump onto YAHAHA and use it to make something of their own. Not just that, they can then share it with a global community, to be played, and even eventually monetized.
Social interaction is also a big part of YAHAHA. Users can socialize with other like-minded players and creators, using their own personalized digital avatars. Together they can visit different virtual worlds and enjoy experiences that have been crafted by creators of all kinds,
Focus on User-Generated Content
We love user-generated content (UGC) and believe that anyone can be a creator – so the democratization of the creation process is very important to us. Human beings have always been creative, and it’s important for new technological advances to invite creative thinking and expression. Existing platforms can seem daunting or even overwhelming for new users, with many would-be creators not knowing where to begin.
We focus on social interactions rather than solely gaming and encourage users to socialize through YAHAHA both in and outside of the gaming world. Besides, we have constructed our tech stack in a way that we can leverage existing content out there like assets and 3D experiences, so there is no need to create everything from scratch.
We will also provide tools and services on the platform, so creators of all kinds will be able to monetize their skills in the YAHAHA ecosystem – no matter if you are an artist, designer, or programmer.
UGC and content creation can diminish the effects of mental health issues and isolation, building new communities and lifelong friendships. It offers a fantastic way for creators to express themselves, and can also support interactive education and team-building strategies, and much more; games are just a part of the opportunities available. The possibilities are endless.
How Difficult It Is to Master the Software
We make it as easy as possible for our users to create with YAHAHA, regardless of their level of experience. In fact, using our platform is as easy as drag and drop. Our studio tool has lots of free template assets available to use, provided by us and other creators. We also support creators with clear tutorials, prompt feedback, and constant iteration, helping them to shape their content. This means that even complete beginners can create games and build social environments. There will, of course, be a learning curve for new users, but in a thoroughly motivational, rewarding, and encouraging way.
Whether creators choose to build a social experience or a game, it can easily be created, published, shared, and played on the YAHAHA platform.
We secured an incredible $50million in funding over three rounds in six months, with investors including Coatue, Hillhouse Capital, ZhenFund, Bertelsmann Asia Investments, 5Y Capital, BiliBili, and Xiaomi.
This first round of investment happened during 2020 and enabled us to build a great team and also the foundation of our UGC social platform. We’re very proud of the trust given to us by our investors and partners, and incredibly happy to have a team that believes in Yahaha Studios.
The appeal of having a digital identity within 3D virtual worlds has grown exponentially in recent years, particularly in light of the global pandemic which left many feeling isolated. The metaverse is something that will be built over time, and no doubt it will continue to evolve and grow in ways we cannot imagine. What excites me the most is the endless possibilities. Virtuality can bring a better experience to reality, to the extent that you won't even know the difference between reality and virtuality anymore.
At YAHAHA we want to show that anyone, no matter their skills or knowledge, can be a part of the digital future. Anyone can create virtual experiences for friends, and there is a whole virtual world of other users to explore and enjoy. We are really looking forward to seeing the 3D experiences our users will come up with, and watching how these experiences help people find a true sense of acceptance and belonging.
We can’t wait to see what our community of creators will build. We have a few ideas, but they have always been able to surprise us with their creativity.
Like any tech start-up, our first priority has been product development. The funding is currently being used to build out our platform and our team. We want to get the early Alpha into creators' hands as soon as we can.
We are also building our creator community. This is really important, as it will help us to shape YAHAHA ensuring that what we are developing is what creators really want to see and use, and at the same time to cater to creators of all levels with different skill sets. We are offering creator incentives and recruiting more creators into our community, so we can build the YAHAHA universe together. You can join our Discord community, and find out more about YAHAHA here.