Astra Fund is a new venture fund supporting “thinking games.” The company established by thatgamecompany (Journey) former producer Eileen Hollinger and 9 Dots president Josh Taylor has already invested in six indie titles.
According to Astra Fund’s website, a thinking game must hit three pillars: “thinky mechanics, intriguing problems, and wondrous worlds.” It cites Baba Is You, The Garden Between, and Pikuniku as titles it would have funded.
Considering the pillars mentioned above, Astra won’t fund match-3 puzzles, blockchain titles, XR games, or interactive quizzes.
“More available thinking games leads to more players discovering thinking games. This leads to more homes developing a strong problem-solving culture. This cycle hasn’t been widely activated yet,” Taylor told Game Developer. “We aim to fix that.”
The list of games
- Paper Trail (Newfangled Games), a “top-down puzzle adventure about leaving home” coming to PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and mobile in 2023
- Star Stuff (Ánimo Games), a “cosmic puzzle adventure about a young alien’s first day at a star factory” set to launch on Steam and Itch.io in 2023
- Rytmos (Floppy Club), a meditative game where the way a player solves puzzles affects how the music is created. It is expected to come out on PC, Switch, and mobile later this year.
- Schrödinger’s Cat Burglar (Abandoned Sheep), a puzzle adventure game about a “cat burglar extraordinaire” coming to PC and Switch in 2023.
- Unannounced game by new indie studio Furniture & Matress, which team consists of writer Nick Suttner (Carto, Celeste), artist David Hellman (Braid), designer Nicolás Recabarren (ETHEREAL), and composer Tomás Batista (Per Aspera).
- “Secret Project” by Zach Cage (SpellTower) and mobile developer Orta Therox.
Individuals can apply for the so-called “Fellowship Grants” to receive $45K to “hone their craft and develop new ideas.” These grants are given on an annual cadence.
Astra Fund also offers $150K+ investments for small teams and $1M+ investments for bigger studios. The company expects to close between three and five deals a year.