Doppio Games Acquired by New Sands Casino-Owned Fortis Games for Metaverse Ambitions
Voice game startup Doppio Games has been acquired for an unrevealed sum by new video game developer Fortis, a subsidiary of resort and entertainment giant Las Vegas Sands. Doppio is one of three game companies picked up by Fortis in recent weeks, augmenting the new company’s stable of games and talent. Doppio’s team has taken up similar roles at Fortis, including executive positions for both co-founders.
Doppio Games is known for designing voice games for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, especially using licensed properties like the Vortex, the 3% Challenge, and Pac-Man Waka Waka. Their Pac-Man game is especially notable as it translated the classic arcade game to smart displays, with voice commands in the Doppio-created’ Wakanese’ language to control the character. The Portugal-based game makers had begun experimenting with original concepts in the Arthurian-themed Voice Quest and even brought its hands-free gaming approach to Zoom with its most recent game, Just Say the Word.
Fortis’ rapid-fire acquisition rate suggests Sands is not stingy with resources for its new subsidiary of more than 150 people. Doppio’s outsize success with a relatively small team mirrors Fortis’ other purchases, the Brazilian Oktagon Games and Romanian Metagame. There’s also shared background among the leadership of the companies. Fortis president Steven Chiang and Doppio co-founders Jeferson Valadares and Christopher Barnes are all veterans of gaming giant EA. Valadares even brings an’ extra connections Oktagon Games after 11 years as a board member. Valadares and Barnes are now Fortis’ vice president of games and technical director, respectively.
“Throughout our journey at Doppio over the past three-plus years, we have had a blast inventing the next generation of games. It has been our mission to bring gaming to everyone, through voice, live streaming, the web, mobile, and video conferencing platforms, and we’re still extremely excited about doing just that,” Valadares explained in a blog post. “Fortis is an early but mighty organization, with a leadership team of game-industry veterans that aspires to make great games that bring people together, while redefining how game companies work. It was a natural next step for us to join forces given the alignment of our goals: we both are fierce believers in building a sense of belonging through our games and their communities, and in how we operate and treat each other.”
Doppio’s games aren’t going anywhere, but Fortis and Sands have discussed ambitious plans centered on interactive entertainment and the games-as-service model. The company has outlined ideas to combine social experiences and games in what sounds essentially like the shared virtual worlds of the metaverse. Fortis’ acquisition of Doppio is a marker of growing interest in applying conversational AI to games and entertainment, from straightforward trivia games to immersive 3D landscapes. Doppio’s acquisition comes hot on the heels of the news that voice game developer Volley’s spent millions of dollars purchasing ‘Question of the Day’ creator Matchbox.io. And the firehose of metaverse development and funding news over the last several months frequently centers around companies that have been designing virtual beings powered by AI for video games and television like Krafton and Ready Player Me.
“Our view is that we are at the beginning of a massive new opportunity for games to make their greatest and most positive impact on global culture, and the human experience,” Chiang said in a statement when Fortis launched last week. “Fortis’ mission is to create worlds that matter, that are deeply social, across different platforms and genres, and to help build meaningful relationships and healthy communities through games.”