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A team of industry veterans has united to create HiDef, a new game studio in San Diego, California, with $9 million in funding to build a metaverse game.

The company is making a “genre-defining game” for the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. The goal is to make interactive experiences that transcend traditional gaming boundaries and demographics.

The founders include CEO Anthony Castoro, Jace Hall, ex-NBA player Rick Fox, and social impact expert David Washington. The company raised $1.5 million earlier, and it is announcing today it has raised another $7.5 million.

Wick Capital Partners led the round. George Toulson from Wick Capital Partners will join HiDef’s board. In an interview with GamesBeat, Castoro said that HiDef wants to make games that have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. He said the company feels it has a responsibility to make sure that what it builds is both fun and has a positive impact on communities around the world.

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After seeing what HiDef is creating and the culture they are building, Wick Capital Partners was thrilled to back it, said Toulson in a statement. Castoro did say that the company is working on games-as-a-service, and HiDef has assembled a team from the highest levels of gaming and entertainment to create the product. Other investors will be revealed later.

Castoro said the idea started with Hall, who had an idea for a game that he explained to Castoro. They thought it had a lot of potential and decided to build a new studio.

“The rest is history,” Castoro said. “We started prototyping something that no one else had ever done. That drove our success in putting together a team and raising the capital. We could show someone what it was early on.”

Fox came on board and brought on Washington.

Founder backgrounds

Above: HiDef is a new studio in San Diego making a metaverse game.

Image Credit: HiDef

Castoro is an entrepreneur and executive leader with 25 years of game experience at places such as EA Mobile, Codemasters, Heatwave Interactive, and Daybreak Games. Most recently, Castoro established indie game studio Protagonist Games, a work-for-hire company that is doing work on the HiDef game. Before that, he was general manager at Daybreak. He also ran a consultancy business and served as adviser to numerous game companies.

Hall, the chief creative officer, founded triple-A game publisher Monolith Productions, which Warner Bros later acquired. He led Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, where he oversaw the development and management of numerous film/television/comic book multi-SKU game franchises such as The Matrix, DC Comics, and Harry Potter. Jace formed HDFilms, a film and television production studio, which completed over 40 different projects for feature film, scripted and unscripted TV shows, and short-form webisodes with many production partners.

Fox, the chief business development officer, was a three-time NBA champion and former team captain for the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. He built successful businesses in the media, gaming, sports, and entertainment industries. He was a pioneer in esports as the founder of the Echo Fox Gaming franchise in 2015.

Over the past 25 years, Fox has also worked with and for more than 20 major networks and studios in acting and production roles. In his role as founder and CEO of production company 1774 Entertainment, he produced major TV and film projects. Fox is a frequent motivational speaker and founded the nonprofit Bahamas Relief Foundation in 2019 to provide relief to his home country of the Bahamas after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.

The last founder is very different: chief impact officer Washington. He is a former aide to President Obama and serves as senior advisor for philanthropy and policy to 15-time Grammy winner musician Alicia Keys. Castoro said the team has also hired Virginia McArthur as an executive producer. She is a 25-year veteran of the game industry. The team is in preproduction now.

While in the Obama Administration, Washington served as associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement where he oversaw the philanthropy, business and entertainment sectors portfolio. He is also founder/CEO of Partnerships for Purpose, having advised Lady Gaga, the Walt Disney Company, Electronic Arts, and the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

“Having [Washington] come on as chief impact officer was an important step for a small company,” Castoro said. He will make sure that, built into our DNA, is not just maximizing shareholder profit, but taking into consideration all of our stakeholders, our customers, our employees, our suppliers, and partners in the communities that we draw on or impact. We have an internal mantra. There’s nothing wrong with doing good while doing well.”

Disclosure: My daughter will be doing a summer job at HiDef.

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