Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies lead designer Raph Koster has opened a new studio, Playable Worlds, with $2.7 million in seed funding.

The investment was led by Bitkraft Esports Ventures, though the studio has said its debut game will not have esports elements. 1Up Ventures and several undisclosed angel investors also participated in the funding round.

Playable Worlds was officially established in 2018 by Koster, who will serve as CEO, and veteran industry advisor Eric Goldberg, who will be the company’s head of business, strategy, and corporate development. Dorian Ouer, a former senior technical director at companies like Amazon and Disney, will serve as chief technology officer. Members of the art and design teams have experience at companies including DC, Marvel, and Sony Online Entertainment.

The studio has not revealed any details about its inaugural project, but Koster has revealed that it will take place in an original setting with a new story, rather than being based on a licensed property. He also says the game will attempt to appeal to numerous different playstyles, including exploration, socializing, and combat, among others.

“I’m incredibly excited to bring a new world to players,” Koster said in a statement. “Technology has caught up to the visions we always had of alternate worlds where entire societies can form. It’s time for that dream to be fulfilled.”

Bitkraft partner Scott Rupp said of the firm’s investment in a statement:

We are honored to work with Raph Koster and the entire Playable Worlds team as they redefine MMOs with new levels of community interaction synonymous with streaming culture. Playable Worlds is building on Raph’s incredible heritage of MMO design innovation to create a completely new experience that will push the boundaries of persistent game worlds and social competitive play.

Patrick Lee
Patrick Lee is a contributing editor at Escapist Magazine and managing news editor at Gaming Street.

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