Rune, a company out of Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 class, wants to use artificial intelligence (AI) to help you find the right people to play with, connecting you via voice chat. And they’ve just closed a $2 million seed round to get it done.
The round was led by the gaming-focused firm Makers Fund, and backed by byFounders, E14 Fund, VentureSouq and Gmail creator Paul Buchheit.
The first game they’re supporting is Brawl Stars, the popular free-to-play mobile game built by Clash of Clans creator Supercell. It’s a pretty perfect game for something like this — it’s a game where strategic teams have a solid advantage, but where building such a team from scratch can be tough. Brawl Stars will automatically match you with teammates if you’re playing alone, but in-game communication is limited and random players tend to only hang around for a game or two.
When you first sign up, Rune asks you a handful of questions to start tuning their matchmaking algorithm. Which language(s) do you speak? How much Brawl Stars have you played (how many “trophies” have you earned)? What sort of gameplay are you looking for right now — are you just messing around, or are you looking for nothing but wins? Push a button, and the matchmaking system starts its search.
The more you play, the better the algorithm is tuned. If you seem to have longer play sessions with certain players, for example, it can prioritise matchmaking you with players their algorithms see as similar. (For the curious: While they will tune the matchmaking algorithms based on metadata, like who you’re chatting with and for how long, Rune co-founder Sanjay Guruprasad tells me that they don’t store or analyse the actual voice communication in any way.)
The company says that players have collectively spent around 50,000 hours chatting through the app since launching in March of 2019.