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Social storytelling platform Dorian has acquired Nix Hydra, a developer of interactive fiction such as “oteme” games.
Dorian will pick up a couple of Nix Hydra employees along with their flagship titles, Fictif and The Arcana: A Mystic Romance, which was named by Pocket Gamer as one of the best otome-style games of 2022. These are sexless romance games popular in Japan — and elsewhere too.
That’s why Dorian acquired the games and the interactive platform, as it is building a creator platform, which embraces the new and changing entertainment landscape by connecting fans and independent creators to popular intellectual properties, monetization features, and code-free creation tools.
“Our ambition is to become the largest gaming creation and streaming platform for female creators and other underrepresented groups,” said Julia Palatovska, CEO of Dorian, in an interview with GamesBeat. “Nix Hydra really fits in the most popular and best-performing content that Dorian already has. So it has a really high affinity with the community that we’re building and the content that we’re building.”
The company has also expanded its partnerships, technology and community teams with Nix Hydra members and new hires.
“With gaming as the largest and fastest growing form of entertainment today, and major streaming giants losing subscribers to creator-driven platforms like TikTok and Twitch, the message is clear: big, bold changes coming to the landscape of how content is created and consumed,” said Palatovska.
Like Dorian, Nix Hydra is a female-founded company, with more than six million downloads of its apps. Dorian is pursuing a vision to empower underrepresented communities through games and interactive storytelling, Palatovska said.
Lovers of otome games, comics, and webtoons have built highly engaged fan communities around both Fictif and Arcana, which stand out for their well-developed characters and striking visuals. Together, Fictif and The Arcana have more than 300 episodes full of art.
“They all fit in perfectly in our strategy. They have a very strong community built around these IPs and in fact, they’re among the top oteme games,” Palatovska said. “This is fantastic for the streaming side of the Dorian platform because as we’re experimenting with different types of creators, and cosplayers are definitely the most popular right now among the streamers.”
Palatovska said that Nix Hydra is also known for its large non-binary following, as its stories aren’t always gendered. Nix Hydra was founded by Lina Chen and Naomi Ladizinsky, two Yale University grads who were roommates. They raised $5 million in 2014 to make games for women. They had a number of successes, but ultimately the company shrank and the founders left a few years ago.
Dorian will bring these episodes of content from Fictif — an anthology app that’s home to multiple intellectual properties — and Arcana to its platform, and will work with Nix Hydra’s highly engaged fan community to expand the canon and explore new character relationships. That means Dorian is embracing user-generated content (UGC), which happens to be a big topic at our GamesBeat Summit Next 2022 event on October 25-26 in San Francisco.
Now, those fans and Dorian’s large audience will not only be able to access Nix Hydra’s titles on Dorian, they’ll also be able to create fan fiction and spin-off stories using the beautiful and iconic art and lore from the original IPs.
In addition to no-code creation, the platform offers game monetization features including full access to game performance data and rapid iteration tools — all instantly available to anyone who joins. Dorian’s unique livestreaming feature gives creators the power to promote their stories, grow their followings, and connect with the fans most likely to support them.
With the addition of Nix Hydra IPs, Dorian will enable Arcana’s massive cosplay community (which has 300-plus million views on TikTok) to roleplay iconic characters live, while making decisions together with fellow fans.
Dorian wants to to enable the millions of non-technical fiction and comics creators out there to turn their stories into games and monetize them, and so the company has expanded the team with new executives with experience at some of the top creator platforms and gaming companies in the market.
New team members include head of creator partnerships I-Yana Tucker, previously director of creator management at Wattpad/Webtoon; principal software architect Alex Hall, the cofounder and former CTO of interactive storytelling platform Tales; and head of strategic partnerships Liz Tingue, who led original and IP development at Episode (Pocket Gems) and Spotlight (Crazy Maple Studio).
Two members of the Nix Hydra team will also be joining Dorian — community manager Alex Danino and lead artist Gabriella Rossetti, who will play roles in the integration of Fictif and Arcana. Dorian is in prime position to execute their vision: to change the landscape of game creation and livestreaming for new audiences that have been historically excluded from the game industry, Palatovska said.
In Dorian’s streams, streamers can ask the audience to vote in real-time for decisions that the streamers make as players. This was inspired in part by the Twitch scripted show Artificial. Dorian shares revenues with the streamers, and if someone contributes to the stream, that person can get paid too.
“So we solved this problem of collaboration between game creators and streamers,” she said.
“Since Dorian has built a very collaborative environment where you can work with others on your games, you can collaborate with streamers, you can collaborate with artists, and you can collaborate with our community,” Palatovska said. “I think the insider community will be delighted to have this opportunity to produce official fan fiction and we’re planning to work with the Nix Hydra community.”
Dorian has more than 300 creators who are already generating revenue on the platform using its virtual currency.
Dorian has about 20 people, mostly in San Francisco. The company has raised $19 million.
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