In Game of Drones, always talk about flight club

Game of ... drones
Game of ... drones

Winter is coming for your childhood remote control toys.

Game of Drones, a drones sporting company, wants to revolutionize the way you think about devices as it heads out of demo day at Highway1, a hardware start-up accelerator in San Francisco. 

But you won't see Game of Drones selling any of its products to the U.S. military. The company makes drones that look like remote control helicopter toys, and are meant purely for fun, like drone combat games and obstacle courses.

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It sells its first-generation drone, the Hiro Action Sports Airframe, for about $650. A do-it-yourself kit is also available for about $400, and the air-frame alone is $140. 

The rules of Game of Drones flight combat are simple: Two drones enter the arena, and try to crash into each other. Last one flying wins. And if both drones crash, the first one back in the air wins.

The company became interested in drone sports in 2012 when it started hosting underground competitions. Every Friday night, the Game of Drones founders would meet up with other robot makers, inventors and engineers in a secret location in the Bay Area for Thunderdome-style battles

Co-founder and CEO Marque Cornblatt sees drones in their current state as expensive, delicate and difficult to fly. He wants to change that.

"We are doing everything that we can to see that as drones move forward, they get presented in the proper light as safe and productive tools," Cornblatt said in an interview. "They're not necessarily machines used for naughty things like spying or war, but they can actually be used for a lot of valuable things."

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Consumer interest in drones is growing, and is projected to be a $1 billion market by 2018, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. And Game of Drones wants to profit from the competitive video gaming space, known as e-sports, which is already a more than $600 million market. 

"We see the future of drone sports reaching the same heights e-sports reached, but we're seeing it happen in just a few years," Cornblatt said. 

Game of Drones started selling its drones last year and has since brought in $255,000 from sales and angel investors. A Kickstarter campaign last year netted the start-up a little over $51,000, more than twice its goal.

At Highway1 demo day, the company sought a $1.5 million seed round to expand its team and to put its second-generation drone, the Flow State Tantrum, on the market in 2016.

The FST model has a tougher exterior built for battles. Jump on it, and it won't break. And each drone comes with a radio controller equipped with a five-lesson flight school, live video streaming and a 3-D flight simulator integrated into it.

Game of Drones products are sold on its website. Cornblatt said the company has also started to sell its products in a few brick-and-mortar shops.

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Cornblatt said the community of drone sports players has expanded across the West Coast and internationally into China, Australia and Great Britain. 

"We see Game of Drones becoming the drones sports company worldwide with name recognition on par with X Games or NASCAR," he said.