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You can try snackable games on GamesBeat.com courtesy of Lil Snack You can try snackable games on GamesBeat.com courtesy of Lil Snack
GamesBeat is excited to partner with Lil Snack to have customized games just for our audience! We know as gamers ourselves, this is an... You can try snackable games on GamesBeat.com courtesy of Lil Snack



Lil Snack has created a platform for snackable games that players can come back to every day, and we’re trying it out on GamesBeat.com.

These aren’t super serious games. In fact, they’re the opposite, meant to help distract you from your day, help you relax or give you a mental challenge with a puzzle or two. And for the first seven days, you’ll see how the topics are coordinated with the game news on GamesBeat.

For the 30 days starting on May 20 — the first day of GamesBeat Summit 2024, Lil Snack will run its simple puzzle games, trivia titles and other games on our web site. I got the idea when I saw that Jonathan Knight, head of games at The New York Times, said that games like Wordle were now accounting for more traffic than news stories at the newspaper’s site. I had toyed with this notion before, but we decided to dive in because what’s good for the New York Times should be good for us too.

These daily treats come to us from Lil Snack, a game startup which got off the ground with a team of just two — Eric Berman and Travis Chen. They drew our attention after it raised $3.1 million from investors including A16z Games Speedrun and Powerhouse Capital. During the previous six months, Lil Snack said it grew organically over 100% month-over-month for several consecutive months.

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Berman said the games are chameleons. He said, “They are templates that can be updated daily to match the topics, themes, editorial of our partners making the games even more challenging, sticky and fun … like what we are doing with GamesBeat.”

As a teaser, he said to look out for work the company is doing with brand sponsors that can come take over Lil Snack and activate a game for their brand.

The team now has just four people, and it isn’t planning on spending on marketing. Rather, it is working with distribution partners like Amazon Prime and BuzzFeed. It will also tailor games for GamesBeat in the form of trivia games with game themes as well as tech-related games. Using tech such as generative AI, the team can create games on the fly to run every day.

Game demo

Lil Snack has a variety of daily games.

I’ve played the games with the Lil Snack leaders and they’re both cute and fun. In one category of “app store favs,” the theme varies with the news of the day. Liar’s Dungeon quizzed me about my knowledge of games and social platforms. The guards at each door in a dungeon quizzed me about “three truths and one lie” and I had to figure out which was the lie. The game cycled through four questions, and I won.

Another game showed me a picture of a bunch of fans in a store. I was supposed to figure out the eight-letters in the blank phrase referred to “Only Fans.” The image of the store was created with generative art.

Another game made me rank the social platforms based on how many users they had. All of it made me laugh. One day featured Beyonce-related games as Beyonce released a new album. Another day was dedicated to the Academy Award winners. The games are available on the web at the moment and on GamesBeat.com.

Daily gaming habit

Lil Snack raised $3.1 million from investors.
Lil Snack raised $3.1 million from investors.

Lil Snack releases new games daily in sync with pop culture trends, using AI tools to supercharge game production. It recently added two more people and doesn’t anticipate hiring people at the moment.

Berman and Chen have multifaceted expertise in games and streaming video and they’re using it to deliver an entirely new entertainment experience. Berman and Chen have served as executive leaders at companies such as Scopely, Hulu, Snap, Crunchyroll, Warner, and Dapper Labs,

The duo emerged from stealth mode during A16z Games Speedrun Demo Day at GDC and immediately closed their seed round.

Lil Snack has focused on a daily games arena, something instigated in the past by companies such as HQ Trivia. Inspired by the mainstream resurgence of daily games, driven by The New York Times Games (with games like Wordle), the founders started making their own bite-size games, sharing with family and friends.

Every month, there are new events where users can collect items that they can equip to their leaderboards. Lil Snack has also targeted YouTube influencers and streamers, who in turn get their fans to play every day. They talk about it on Discord and elsewhere, and they compete against each other in a kind of meta game via teams.

Rapid growth

LilSnack.co is where you can find snackable games.

So far, the audience grew organically, and players immediately embraced the approachability, fun, and uniqueness of these “Lil Snacks.” To keep up with demand, Lil Snack creates games in minutes, using new AI tools, allowing them to develop games that move at the “speed of culture.” Their formula has ignited engagement and retention within fan communities, attracting streamers with millions of followers, fueling competition among friends and family, and inviting partnerships with top brands.

The New York Times was particularly inspiring, and it led them to consider little snacks for people who need more accessible and approachable forms of entertainment while still getting a daily dose of pop culture.

“We leaned into that category of entertainment as a massive unlock, adding fun puzzle games and other mental play,” Berman said.

Their strategy is to get Lil Snack’s games rolling out across the internet in a viral and ubiquitous way. They’re creating Lil Snacks games that are purpose built for partners and their dedicated communities. And to start are working with some of the biggest publishers in the world. Lean into giving media companies their own version, custom built version of what the NYT Times has — and providing daily engagement and retention.

Background

Travis Chen (left) and Eric Berman of Lil Snack.
Travis Chen (left) and Eric Berman of Lil Snack.

Berman has served in key leadership roles for some of the world’s largest media companies–scaling consumer products to millions of paying subscribers, from launching Hulu’s first apps and scaling the subscription service to over $1 billion to serving as vice president across the portfolio of Otter Media’s fan-focused companies Crunchyroll, VRV, and Fullscreen.

Berman led the teams responsible for the distribution, content, partnerships, and M&A–later sold to Warner Media for over $1 billion. He then supported the team that incubated HBO Max. Before founding Lil Snack, he worked with Chen as COO of the award-winning kids’ experience, OK Play – which they successfully sold to Dapper Labs in 2022. The two then led consumer-driven initiatives at Dapper Labs in partnership with the NBA, the NFL, Disney, and others.

“At Lil Snack, we’re creating snackable games at the speed of culture. When something happens in the world, you can play it,” said Chen. “Throughout my career, I’ve pursued faster ways to engage larger audiences through play. Lil Snack is the ultimate realization of this ambition.”

Chen shifted his focus from developing popular triple-A games such as Guitar Hero and Call of Duty to top-grossing mobile games at Scopely.

There, he was chief game designer at the studio, which was eventually acquired for $4.9 billion. He also led the team building augmented reality experiences at Snap. As CPO and sole developer of Lil Snack’s games and platform, Chen now focuses on “finding the fun” in ingeniously designed daily games that intertwine strategies, catapulting audience reach and engagement through pop culture and play.

Can AI provide the art for a game like this?

Generative AI can’t be trusted yet to make a game all by itself, Chen said.

He added, “To be honest, like I don’t think we really want to live in that place.”

Berman sees Lil Snack as human editorialized and AI powered.

“The emergence of AI superpowers our ability to release games at the scale we are, but more importantly brings to life an entirely new kind of game developer, diversifying who can become a game developer,” he said. “Our tools power content creators of all sorts to now become game developers. We are ramping up a team of content creators led by Tanner Greenring (who made quizzes for Buzzfeed for over a decade) to lean into making games for publishers, media companies, brands and more. Our games are always human editorialized and designed.”

He added, “AI is not funny, clever or able to tap into pop-culture trends. That is a very human experience which requires thoughtful, creative and talented content creators to fuse into the games. We intend to build a deep and diverse team of content creators to tap into categories of the cultural zeitgeist.”

They start with an idea like something funny for a Beyonce-inspired game. Then they send custom prompts to the AI to generate ideas for the type of game and then they go back and forth and tune it.

Berman also said in our earlier interview, “And with continued success, we intend to invest further to create more job opportunities in order to build an even better product for consumers. We have found the new AI tools also enable other creatives to step into the game development process, often for the first time, leading to new takes on game design. Fresh perspectives will be critical to our success, as we tackle a very big vision of bringing play into industries outside the traditional games space.”



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