September 17, 2021

Announcing Regression Games' $4.2M Seed Round for AI Gaming (NEA, a16z)

Announcing Regression Games' $4.2M Seed Round  for AI Gaming (NEA, a16z)

I’m extremely excited to announce that Regression Games has closed $4.2M in seed funding from NEA, a16z, BBQ Capital, Roosh Ventures, and various angels to bring the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to gaming and esports.

At Regression Games, we are building the platform and ecosystem to make competitive gaming and esports with artificial intelligence accessible and enjoyable for everyone. This means that players will write code and AIs that control characters, debug strategies in real time, compete for prizes in tournaments and top spots on the leaderboards, and collaborate with friends to build the best bots possible. Rather than playing with a controller or mouse and keyboard, players program algorithms and machine learning models to battle others. The AI platform will be made to integrate with both existing games and games that Regression Games will develop.

My name is Aaron, and I’m the founder of Regression Games. I’m an MIT alum and previously an early engineer at Instabase, where I worked on designing, building, and scaling low-code machine learning approaches for document processing. Growing up, I’ve always loved this idea of combining my two favorite subjects — gaming and technology. In middle school and high school I participated in FIRST Robotics (go Dragons!), where I was able to apply robotics to exciting challenges and sports like frisbee and basketball. In college, I participated in Battlecode, a yearly competition where an MIT club develops a video game and invites colleges students from around the world to write code and compete in AI-driven battles. After winning a few awards in Battlecode, I had the honor of joining the development team, and helped run Battlecode for my last few years at MIT.

The MIT Battlecode competition — players are explaining how their bot works as it competes

Why now? After college, there was nothing available to satisfy this craving of technology and gaming. I wanted to continue applying my technical abilities to my love for gaming, and it seems like I’m not the only one. People enjoy being able to use their technical skills to compete and win prizes, and with the proliferation of AI, this is the perfect time to start bringing AI gaming to the masses. There has been a ton of research over the past few years applying machine learning to gaming — we’ve seen OpenAI develop models capable of playing Dota 2 and Minecraft, and DeepMind develop AIs for playing Go, Atari games, and Starcraft II. These technologies are really exciting, and show how capable machines have become at controlling agents within a game. When you consider competitions like Battlecode, Pokerbots, and Halite, it’s clear that people of all technical abilities (even no coding experience!) are looking for ways to dive deeper into this new world of competitive AI gaming. Young kids and older adults alike are looking to learn and apply their coding skills in new and engaging ways, and I want Regression Games to be the place where the next billion coders go to have fun with their skills.

OpenAI’s RL fine-tuned VPT model crafting a diamond pickaxe (
Awesome highlights from the OpenAI Five vs a team of humans in Dota 2

Good luck trying to make these models yourself… they can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to train! This is why I am so excited by what we are doing at Regression Games — our goal is to bring these ideas and technologies to the mainstream and give people an accessible place to have fun using and competing with artificial intelligence in games. Whether it be rule-based algorithms or complicated deep learning models, we will work towards making Regression Games the place to 1) make it easy to participate in this exciting new chapter in gaming, and 2) make it fun to do so!

When writing bots to play a game, seeing your AI complete an objective, or coordinate itself in a way that helps it win a match, is such an incredible feeling. There is that rewarding loop of thinking “how do I make this AI better”, implementing that strategy, and then seeing your AI improve in real time. Similar to how a gamer will improve over time with practice, your AI can improve as you learn from mistakes and recognize other strategies from your opponents.

I am extremely excited for this future of AI competition and esports. As an avid consumer of esports like League’s LCS and LEC, as well as Apex Legend’s ALGS, I’m excited for AI to become a cornerstone of the esports market. I imagine a future of both beginner coders and professional machine learning research centers participating in world championships to claim the title of Best AI Gamer. In addition to esports, the tools and approaches for AI competition are useful to more than just the players. A lot more people are gaming these days, and there is a lot of complexity that goes into planning the NPCs and AIs that are to be used in the metaverse, online battle arenas, etc… The tools and platform we build for players to compete will be useful for developers who want to build AIs into their games. It’s well known that bots in games are pretty bad, and we can do so much more than what is currently implemented.

Over the next few months, we will begin to build our community and will host alpha tests for our platform, including leaderboards and a few tournaments to show off your skills. If you are interested, please join our Discord a, where we will send out more information soon!

Thanks for reading! I’m really excited to have you all join me on this journey to build the next big thing and push our limits in gaming and esports :)

-Aaron Vontell, Founder of Regression Games

Follow us and join our community