Clockwork Labs secures $4.3 million in funding for an unannounced 'community sandbox MMO'

The fully-remote studio is looking to emphasize community and cooperation in its unannounced project.

This week, indie developer Clockwork Labs announced the closure of a $4.3 million funding round to build an unannounced “community sandbox MMO.” Additionally, the company is emphasizing that it is fully remote, a business practice that has recently taken on increased significance thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in 2019 by Tyler Cloutier and Alessandro Asoni, Clockwork Labs is looking to make a name for itself in the community-driven sandbox game market. 

“We started Clockwork Labs to create the kind of ambitious MMORPG project we’ve wanted to play for years, but which required our new proprietary tech,” Cloutier said in the announcement. “Our debut project will feature a truly unique level of social interaction and cooperation between players, which is at the core of what our studio values in gaming.”

The $4.3 million investment comes from a combination of venture companies including Supercell, Firstminute Capital, 1Up Ventures, Supermode, and Skycatcher. 

That Clockwork Labs employs a fully-remote working strategy speaks to the shifting view of what game development looks like. At the onset of the pandemic, companies were forced to shift to remote work, causing many observers to question exactly how vital in-person work is to the development process. 

A number of new companies took advantage of the shift to great success. For example, Parsec’s desktop streaming technology thrived in this environment, culminating in its acquisition by Unity, which was announced last month

“The pandemic accelerated the need for [our technology] faster than we ever could’ve imagined,” Parsec co-founder Benjy Boxer told GameDaily at the time. “Millions of people were confronted by remote work for the first time, and it was clear that those who relied on powerful, GPU enabled workstations to do their jobs were going to have a pretty hard time staying on track. We launched Parsec for Teams as a direct response to that newfound need.”

For its debut project, Clockwork Labs has chosen the MMO genre thanks to its emphasis on social interaction. For that reason, the game will focus less on combat and more on cooperation and community.

“At Clockwork Labs, we want to create virtual worlds which have true meaning to the players that inhabit them,” Asoni said in the announcement. “It is important to us in the way we design games to give the power of creation and owning content back to the players. We’re excited to see what this level of freedom and inspiration leads to when we invite the world to experience our debut project.”

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Sam, the Editor-in-Chief of GameDaily.biz, is a former freelance game reporter. He's been seen at IGN, PCGamesN, PCGamer, Unwinnable, and many more. When not writing about games, he is most likely taking care of his two dogs or pretending to know a lot about artisan coffee. Get in touch with Sam by emailing him at  sdesatoff@rektglobal.com or follow him on Twitter.