It’s been 18 years since we incorporated Audiokinetic, and 12 years since we released our very first commercial version, Wwise 2006.1. Over these years, we learned everything about making audio middleware that can be trusted by thousands of developers working on the smallest to the largest projects.
From left to right: Jacques Deveau, Head of Business Development , Martin H. Klein, CEO, Simon Ashby, Head of Product
The Recent Years
In 2016, following the 10th anniversary of Wwise, we directed our focus towards various efforts ensuring that Wwise would maintain its leadership within interactive audio in 10 years from now. We’ve been reflecting on this long-term goal a few years prior to our 10th anniversary and some of our efforts towards it already had started to materialize in multiple forms.
We started modernizing our UI framework to make the authoring tool truly cross platform and to allow new workflow and user interactions with Wwise. We also committed to investing more development time in spatial audio and establishing a proper research department for future technologies. We introduced WAAPI, and with it, continue enhancing while simplifying the integration of Wwise into any sort of development environment, beyond game engines. And, of course, we are consistently making sure that we are porting Wwise towards covering all current and future platforms with the best performance possible.
With the Wwise Adventure Game and the Wwise Audio Lab, we produced two sample projects users are able to run on their laptops, VR or mobile devices, to help them learn not only Wwise, but also the integration aspect of interactive audio with Unity and UE4. These samples showcase various spatial audio methodologies and tools, expose both 1st and 3rd person perspectives, provides concrete solutions for typical use cases, etc. And to top it all, we made these projects open-source.
We also embraced new sectors of entertainment that are now adopting interactivity into their projects. Training and simulation projects have been around for a while now, but it’s in the recent years that we’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of projects and their development budgets. Location-Based Entertainment experiences are also developing rapidly and our recent agreements with major players are good indicators of how this market is developing.
Finding the right partner
Audiokinetic’s culture has always been one of quality and thoroughness in everything we do. This high standard implies significant investments in design, R&D, QA, and learning material. In order to keep this high level standard in our current sector of activity while expanding into new territories, it quickly became apparent that we needed new employees covering a broader spectrum of expertise. While we could continue to grow organically as we’ve done for almost two decades, finding a strategic partner was the option that would help us reach our targets more rapidly and efficiently.
This option was one we had to consider very carefully. We set a criteria of non-negotiables, and determined that we would only consider a partner that would:
- Understand that Audiokinetic must remain independent and platform-agnostic,
- Be in the audio and in the interactive sector,
- Share the same culture for quality and long term commitment.
We finally encountered Sony Interactive Entertainment. Already living and breathing by a similar culture for commitment and quality, and a top leader in audio and interactive entertainment. During the early conversations with SIE, Audiokinetic’s requirements for independence and for being platform-agnostic were rapidly acknowledged, and that’s when we happily and confidently began the discussions with them that led to this partnership.
A word for our former stakeholders
14 years ago, like many startup companies, Audiokinetic had to find a series of investors to fund this crazy project of developing Wwise and managed to convince a number of individuals and institutions to become stakeholders in this journey. 14 years is a lifetime, and we’ve always been grateful for their extraordinary patience.
Audiokinetic and Wwise are both unique successes for the company culture and solid products used by thousands of people around the globe. But we should also mention that we have been backed by investors who are equally unique. We would like to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts to have trusted us in making a significant change for the (interactive) world!
February 05, 2019 at 09:02 pm
Hi Simon! Congrats to you and the entire Audiokinetic team! It's been fun and rewarding to watch Wwise become such an important and excellent tool. I can still clearly remember meeting you all and the great, productive discussions which ensued over the years between your team and where I was working, which was Blizzard at the time. Here's to a continued great future! (Shout-out to Genevieve, too!)
February 06, 2019 at 08:04 am
Hi Russell! I surely remember my first visit at Blizzard! You were like 15 in the room challenging Wwise's feature set and future development for an uninterrupted 3h30. I remember asking Geneviève to drive us back after the meeting as I collapsed in the passenger seat... :-) But it was a great meeting and I remember thinking "these guys are hardcore". I also recall that, even in the early versions of Wwise, we had the core elements covered (alongside two pages of notes for things to consider adding or expanding on...). Hope your new life as a freelancer brings you interesting mandates, and hope to see you soon (GDC maybe?). Cheers! Simon
February 07, 2019 at 07:43 pm
Heartiest Congratulations to Simon and The Crew! It's great to see your hard work and integrity pay off. Perspective is the secret weapon, and you've gotten to prove that in front of everybody. Over and over, year after year I have noticed your corporate decisions based on a long-term, cross-platform approach aimed at the widest base of users and the broadest range of creative possibilities, all neatly nested within your very specific and well-defined product category. In all our encounters I never sensed you pushing back at suggestions for the little, unimportant reasons, like that it didn't come from within, or that it might help the competition. And certainly nothing ever seemed too hard for you--it just had to get prioritized. There are only a few entities in game audio (let's make that _interactive_ audio) that have consistently latched onto and held the highest perspective. Thank you for serving as an example (complete with success story!) to everybody in business. Your success is good for us all. Congratulations again, and THANK YOU.
February 15, 2019 at 03:52 pm
Thanks for the kind words George! I’m glad you mention the “prioritization” aspect in your post. It is a delicate element of our job as we try to strike a balance between stabilization, performance enhancements, customer support and the development of new features. Thanks again!