Indie studio Gardens has announced that it's amassed a whopping $31.3 million in funding for its debut project. The studio was announced back in 2022, and after a demo for its first game during this year's GDC, big names linked to companies like Microsoft, Blizzard, and Riot Games apparently lined up to contribute.
In a press release, Gardens calls its all-star lineup of backers an "exceptional syndicate", and when you see some of the names, it's hard not to agree with that description. Backers include Krafton, ex-Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime's Dreamhaven, Valorant co-creator Stephen Lim, and Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell.
The star-studded funding cast doesn't stop there, though. Also on the list are Bandai Namco CTO Julien Merceron, ex-Microsoft chairman John Thompson, World of Warcraft development VP Seth Sivak, and ex-Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton. It really is an astonishingly high-stakes list.
So, what's the project that's inspired such generosity from its patrons? According to Gardens co-founder Chris Bell, it's an "ever-evolving online PvPvE fantasy adventure sandbox ARPG". Whew. That's a whole bunch of adjectives. According to the press release, though, many of the backers above jumped on board after playing the game's GDC 2023 demo, so it must be doing something right.
Bell says the game is inspired by the team's "favorite memories" playing multiplayer games while growing up. Like the recently-announced Red Rover Interactive, Gardens boasts devs from all over the industry; staffers include folks who've worked on games like Journey and What Remains of Edith Finch, as well as Outer Wilds, Tunic, and Ashen.
As you might imagine from that pedigree, Gardens' first game, for which a name has not yet been announced, sounds pretty ambitious. Krafton VP Maria Park (who's also joining Gardens' board of directors) says the game will "emphasize tactile interactions between players" as they explore, solve puzzles, and battle giant monsters.
According to director Bell, in Gardens' first game, "co-operation is key, yet betrayal is still possible". The game will "encourage friendship and dialogue" to surmount its challenges, but it will also include "PvP and conflict in interesting and subversive ways". We'll have to see if Gardens' execution can match its ambition.
In order to fulfill the scope of its "grand fantasy project", Gardens is scaling up development on its game this year. If you're interested, you can check out the studio's official site for open positions, and you can also check out the official Gardens Twitter page for updates.