Location: 370 Santa Ana Ave, San Francisco, California, United States United States
Founded in: 2016
Stage: Pre-launch
Number of employees: 1-5
Funding history:
- Date: 01/2015, Government grant: $2 M
Short URL:

PlayNice Interactive

San Francisco, California, United States United States
  • About
Company description

PlayNice integrates evidence-based clinical practices with commercial-grade, emotionally engaging game design to create effective and fun games for mental health and resiliency. PNI’s games are based on cutting-edge developmental neuroscience research and the evidence-based clinical psychological techniques studied and validated by co-founder Isabela Granic, Ph.D.  PNI self-funded and developed our first game, MindLight, to help children overcome anxiety disorders by combining videogames and biofeedback. In as little as 5.5 hours of gameplay, MindLight has been clinically proven, in multiple scientifically rigorous studies, to deliver the same long-term benefits of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), a widely-accepted best practice method for the treatment of anxiety disorders. 


We reject the notion that for games to do good, they shouldn’t compete with commercial games for playtime or attention.  Our team puts high-impact psychology researchers together with game makers who have shipped multiple commercially successful AAA titles.  We integrate evidence-based psychological interventions, neuroscience and sticky game mechanics.  At every stop along the way, we study for efficacy as well as fun.





Business model

Patient/User facing products:

Initially we will launch with a B2C business model where we sell our target full-price is $149 for the hardware and software, or just $49 for families that have a Fitbit with heartrate monitoring (the Neurosky hardware costs $99).


By pricing the software at $50, the company can follow a well proven strategy of offering the software at 50% discounts during holiday and weekend promotions, allowing for the company to use a blended price point of $37 for sales consumer sales modeling.   [With parental trust such critical component to our long-term brand strategy, we does not currently believe free-to-play, freemium or microtransaction pricing models are appropriate for MindLight, though we are open to exploring subscription models.]  We plan to also follow-up with 6-12 months with a re-skinned version of MindLight for adults.


Since there is no clear reimbursement model at present for MindLight we also plant to make MindLight available to schools, hospitals and institutional care providers for $5 per copy, per year.  We want to make MindLight as accessible to institutions as possible and circumvent any protracted purchasing processes and instead help the clinicians to easily adopt MindLight and help market the product through their patients’ use.


The PlayNice data platform:

As part of co-founder Hirsch’s work with the American Medical Association, we learned there is no single, trusted database for mental health apps that track clinical efficacy, cost, and performance. PNI will build a system to understand what users like and do within the game (to improve MindLight and design future products) and open up this system to all developers and publishers of health and wellness applications. 


Similar to the telemetry system Hirsch’s team built at Heath2047, Inc., PlayNice intends to build Psychic, the first HIPPA, COPA and GDPR compliant telemetry and back-end data analytics platform for the emerging digital mental health ecosystem. Third party app developers will be able to use the Psychic API for free for their first 3 products, allowing them to generate and see their users’ in-app telemetry and performance. In keeping with PNI’s mission to support evidence-based interventions, The Company will make the anonymized data available for free to any academic researcher interested in studying efficacy data of digital mental health tools. Via SaaS subscription models, The Company will sell access to the anonymized efficacy data to 3rd party e-mental health developers, (healthcare) payers, governments and NGOs.

Competitive advantage


We have two key advantages in the space and both are centered around having a rich and deep evidence base for everything we do.  To create a clinically proven mental health product requires 4-6 years, once the product is designed.   With our multiple trials completed and published, we can be on the market in 6 months of closing our seed round, with a clinically proven product.


In as little as 5.5 hours of gameplay, MindLight has been clinically proven to deliver the same long-term benefits as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), a widely-accepted best practice method for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Unlike most digital products in the E-mental health space, MindLight’s efficacy has now been demonstrated in 4 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with 450 children across 2 different testing labs.   (Also, as of 15 January, 2020, we just received notice that 2 new, additional RCT’s were accepted for publication.  The fifth was a trial with autistic children  and the sixth was the same sample as the one that compared anxiety in kids in CBT vs MindLight, but these are results on mental health outcomes that include depressive symptoms, aggressive behaviour, and self-efficacy. Again, we demonstrated that MindLight does as well as CBT in improving all these outcomes.  (We are happy to provide copies of any of these publications on request.)


As we look ahead we expect our telemetry data combined with our 6 years of having a leading scientist and well proven designer working to build intervention that are as fun and engaging as they are scientifically rigorous.  While MindLight was in clinical trials, our team continued to work on new (grant backed) work to develop other game-based mental health interventions, again, all with a substantial evidence base. We are happy to provide  provide additional information as to our methods, processes and product pipeline upon request.