Playbite raises $1M to bring back the magic of arcades for mobile games

Playbite has raised $1 million to bring back the magic of arcades on mobile gaming devices.

The company is making casual games that are part of an arcade-inspired hub on iOS and Android.

Grishin Robotics, a tech industry investor, led the round of funding with participation from M25, Tundra Ventures, Capitalize VC, and Magic Fund.

Playbite aims to capture the essence of the traditional arcade experience and bring it into the modern age on mobile devices, said Diego Kafie, CEO of Playbite, in an interview with GamesBeat. There are already 42 games on the platform.


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“We want to be ubiquitous with casual games on your phone, just as Spotify is ubiquitous,” Kafie said. “It’s not just a game, but a platform with a lot of games that everyone from a teenager to a grandparent can enjoy.”

The platform seeks to create a singular destination where users can engage in fun and simple games with others, customize their own items and experiences, and even have the chance to win exciting prizes from their favorite brands. It also wants to keep engagement high by bringing back players over and over.

The recreation of the arcade magic for the modern age holds immense potential, Kafie said, as it caters to the nostalgia of those who fondly recall the joy of arcade gaming while also appealing to a new generation of gamers seeking engaging and interactive experiences.


Playbite has a bunch of casual games.Playbite has a bunch of casual games.
Playbite has a bunch of casual games.

Kafie reminisced about his childhood experiences and the inspiration behind the platform’s vision. Growing up in Honduras, he would often visit Orlando, Florida for vacations. While the theme parks were undoubtedly thrilling, Kafie recalls an additional source of excitement: the arcades.

Places like Chuck E. Cheese became magical destinations where he and his brother could immerse themselves in endless fun, make new friends, and create lasting memories. Winning a coveted prize from the top shelf was always a thrilling daydream.

“I was actually born and raised in Honduras, and I came to the U.S. to go to college at 17,” he said. “I wanted to stay here long term and realized the best way to do that was through having a great career. And hopefully, an employer would help me get a green card. I was lucky enough to get a job at a big tech company based here in St. Louis, where I met my co founders. As a team, we have a lot of background developing, designing, marketing, and monetizing mass market consumer apps and websites.”

In 2018, they started working together and creating hypercasual games, or titles that you could play in a minute or less with no tutorials.

“With a lot of my fellow colleagues that used to work with me, we got really good at building games in Unity. We worked on it as a side project and learned all the ins and outs of the industry. But importantly, we identified an important opportunity that is now what we’re going to pursue with Playbite.”

A gaming hub

He said the magic of arcades stayed with him and it seemed better to deliver a platform that felt more like an arcade. You could play a lot of games and be very social. And it was very important to have prizes and play fun games. The digital nature of the product lets us have any single product in the world. It just keeps expanding and expanding.”

This hub is a single app that is updated often, and it keeps adding new games and new reasons for players to come back. And if you return, you can rack up more points for rewards. The first 40 games were single-player titles and a couple of new ones are multiplayer games.

“Now we’re actually going to go back to the first 40 and make them all multiplayer compatible, which will lock a lot of the social capabilities,” Kafie said.

Right now, the company has made all of the games itself, but it is open to adding platform creator tools for other developers. The company is targeting players who like casual games and playing with their friends. Players can play on iOS, Android or the web. The company is early in its monetization journey, Kafie said, but the model is freemium, with occasional commercial breaks. Players can also subscribe to a paid tier or spend money on skins and other cosmetics.

St. Louis startup life

Playbite’s team

The company is based in St. Louis, Missouri, and it has five people, including four cofounders. As for working in St. Louis, Kafie said it feels like a hidden gem, as it is an affordable city with great talent that isn’t expensive to hire.

The Playbite team brings a wealth of experience to the table, having developed nearly 100 game mechanics and successfully managed mass-market consumer apps and websites. They are combining their expertise in these areas to bring their vision to life. Already boasting several hundred thousand monthly active users, the platform is off to a promising start.

With the new funding secured, Playbite is better positioned to further enhance its platform and deliver a more captivating and rewarding gaming experience. The funds will be utilized to expand the range of available games, improve user customization options, and forge strategic partnerships with popular brands to offer desirable prizes to players. It isn’t necessarily focused on user acquisition spending.

“We have a steady buildup in users and it’s organic,” said Kafie.

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