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Improbable (company)

Improbable (company)

Improbable is a games technology company that provides development tools and services to developers of multiplayer games.

Overview

Improbable's products and services include managed hosting and orchestration, networking, online services, development tools, advisory services, technical support, and full co-development. Improbable has three internal game studios that make multiplayer titles using the company's proprietary technology. The company's brands include Improbable Multiplayer Services (IMS), The Multiplayer Guys, and Improbable Defence.

The company aims to develop an ecosystem of technologies and partners multiplayer and multiuser connectivity solutions. Improbable’s technology enables simulation of real-world challenges in a large-scale format and thousands of users to assemble in a single virtual game environment.

Improbable has been working on the combination of a live performer presence with a virtual crowd for Massive Interactive Live Events (MILEs) and hosted a global virtual fan party as part of the development, where a crowd of 1450 fans freely roamed a virtual arena during the performance of K-pop star AleXa. Every participant experienced the event live and could see and interact with every other participant. Fans also interacted with AleXa in real time, waving, clapping, and dancing. John Wasilczyk, VP Improbable Games Studio, called it a "metaversal experience."

Improbable Multiplayer Services (IMS)

The idea behind Improbable's IMS is to address problems that get in the way of core gameplay development for studios making games incorporating live service. According to Improbable, the IMS product offers the following types of solutions:

  • Game server operations and orchestration solutions to help studios deliver more performance at less cost when operating their dedicated server games
  • Developer effectiveness solutions to help studios improve the pace of development and its overall effectiveness
  • Live game back-end solutions to help studios implement services that attract players and improve retention
  • Gameplay enablement solutions to help studios innovate in the area of game design

Microsoft partnership

In 2021, Improbable partnered with Microsoft to make its synthetic environment platform available on Azure on-premises, cloud, and cloud-to-edge services. As part of the collaboration, partner companies and institutions that use Microsoft Azure are able to offer their products through Improbable’s platform, including content such as models, datasets, and AI applications.

NetEase partnership

Improbable and NetEase became partners in February 2018, enabling NetEase to develop and publish games built on Improbable's cloud-based game development platform, SpatialOS. NetEase went on to invest in Improbable in return for a small amount of equity in the company. Financial Times noted that the NetEase investment amounts to 100 million US dollars total, with the $50m reported investment in newly created shares and an additional $50 million in the purchase of existing shares. According to Improbable, these developments signify the company's venture into new business opportunities with videogame developers and publishers in China and the Asia Pacific region.

Improbable Defence (subsidiary)

Improbable Defence is a US subsidiary of its London-based parent company, Improbable. It specializes in the development of defence solutions for the government and national security sectors. Improbable Defence is based in London and Washington DC and collaborates with the NATO alliance and various partners in the government, defence, and security industries.

These solutions are multi-domain simulated environments that synthesize the traditional military focuses on land, sea, air, and space with the domain of information and abstract political, social diplomatic, and economic systems. Their aim is to aid the defence sector in its drive toward new methods for multi-domain operations (MDO)—a developing concept that has invited differing views, such as that it cannot be meaningfully distinguished from the already existing concept of joint operations. The advanced modeling and simulation functionality of the platform also enables users to estimate the likelihood of various actions' outcomes based on a wide range of factors.

According to Improbable, its synthetic environments can help organizations in the areas of policy design and planning, combat strategy, collective training, and operational decision-making, as well as provide organizations with a new way of addressing problems related to security and facilitate responses to them.

Further, the company claims that those synthetic environments can be utilized to improve situational awareness and speed up planning processes. Subsequently, the updated plans can be tested in training by hundreds of personnel in the virtual environment, informing the planning process with performance data from these training sessions in the manner of a positive feedback loop.

Environments running on Improbable’s platform can incorporate live data sets, models, and feature a live geospatial dashboard. These dynamic, data-rich synthetic environments can aid policy design, planning, and decision making across departments and promote cross-government integration at national, regional, and local levels.

Improbable Defence offers its platform and partner ecosystem to the United States government and other defence organizations. The platform provides the support of engineering expertise and professional services. It is built with open standards and allows users to integrate third-party data streams, models, simulation engines, digital assets, and infrastructure technologies.

Segments of the Improbable's defence division

Improbable's defence division is segmented into teams responsible for different areas of product development and delivery.

  • The research and modeling teams develop models that describe how the world works, tying together multiple disciplines, such as AI and Machine Learning, statistics, behavioral and cognitive modeling, genetic algorithms, evolutionary computing, and neuroscience.
  • The product team and the users collaborate with the research and modeling teams to find ways of fitting the developed models together to create a synthetic environment that can be adjusted and updated for a specific use case.
  • The engineering team works with the researchers, modelers, and product designers to integrate, optimize, and run the relevant models to create a realistic simulation of the world (the synthetic environment).
  • The commercial team works with the users and technology partners to assure quality of service. They negotiate contracts, oversee procurement processes, and ensure that users can access the appropriate third-party technologies and content through the Improbable platform.
  • The operations team covers various tasks related to security, strategy, market analysis, finance, and communications.
History of the platform

The technology that the platform is based on was originally developed by Improbable Defence's parent company for online multiplayer games to enable greater realism, scale, complexity, and server robustness and capacity to host thousands of players concurrently, and which had been later repurposed to serve the defence sector.

Summary of offered products and services

Improbable Defence's platform enables users to update content continuously, deploy environments, and access them on any device. Any engine is compatible with Improbable Defence's platform and it can be deployed to any cloud system or on-premises machine. Its open standard structure enables the re-use of assets, including data sets, models, simulations, and digital capabilities such as AI and analytics. In sum, Improbable Defence's offer contains the following products and services:

  • Core platform: Improbable’s cloud-native, engine-agnostic platform for developing and operating synthetic environments across a variety of domains
  • Content ecosystem: Various models, data, simulations, and analytical tools from across industry, government and academia
  • Business systems integrations: A managed service for delivering the solution to end users, including the installation and provision of facilities, hardware, software, and personnel
  • Cloud-to-edge deployment with security features: On-premises and cloud-deployed environments can be accessed from anywhere and at any time, on most devices
  • End user application: Users interact with the synthetic environment via a selection of interoperative tools for multi-domain operational planning, collective training, and decision support

Timeline

April 7, 2022
Improbable raises $150 million led by Andreessen Horowitz and SoftBank's Vision Fund 2.
September 22, 2021
Improbable announces the official launch of its Improbable Multiplayer Services (IMS) brand.
April 8, 2021
Microsoft and Improbable announce global partnership to develop solutions for the defence and national security sector.
March 31, 2021
Improbable announces the appointment of Prof. Jordan Giddings and Rob Solly to the Research team of Improbable’s defence and national security business.
2021
Midwinter Entertainment’s multiplayer title Scavengers enters Early Access and more than 4000 people simultaneously experience a single shared game world.
June 1, 2020
Improbable announces the launch of SpatialOS to all qualifying Chinese developers.
February 2020
Improbable acquires managed hosting company zeuz.
2020
Improbable’s defence business announces contracts to provide its platform as a synthetic environment technology demonstrator to the British Army and UK Strategic Command.
September 2019
Improbable acquires online games development company The Multiplayer Guys.
September 2019
Improbable acquires games studio Midwinter Entertainment.

Funding rounds

Patents

Further Resources

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News

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Jeremy Kahn
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DealStreetAsia
Improbable Worlds Ltd., a London-based software startup backed by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp., has seen revenue plummet and losses balloon.

References

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