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Alex Seropian’s Industrial Toys

December 3, 2012

There were two personalities at Bungie that I have always felt were more important to its success than their title would reflect. Alex Seropian, co-founder of Bungie, and Matt Soell, writer and community lead. Both left Bungie after Halo:CE. Alex went on to found Wideload, which boasted two of the most unusual games in the industry: Stubbs The Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse, and Hail To The Chimp. After acquisition by Disney, Wideload went on to make the highest Meta-critic scored Disney game (78) for the Wii, Guilty Party.

Today, I took a minute to track them down and discovered that they have both since left Wideload,  and now Alex has yet another company, Industrial Toys.  He is focusing on the mobile platforms for core gamers, as he describes in the video interview embedded above.  I will try to keep y’all posted when they go gold with their first game.  I have considerable confidence that it will be excellent.  As for Matt Soell, he has his own blog and seems to be in transition right now, but I wish and expect more for him soon.

Sweetening the pot, but 100% OT, I just want to add this month-old Wired interview of Peter Moore. A great read, and completely relevant to an e-mail conversation Kenny and I were just having on the dearth of new IP.  That particular snippet is pasted after the jump:

Moore:  “…As a company, we made the decision many many years ago to do less is more. When I arrived we had 67 games in development for console and PC, that we were either about to deliver or had just been greenlit or were in alpha or beta. We’re now down to 14 this fiscal year. We’ve added 41 games this fiscal year which are social, mobile, and free to play.

Who EA is in the five years that I’ve been here has changed radically. We were a big game developer and creator, and you threw it against the wall and you put the marketing behind it and it was a good quality game and you just hoped it landed. And I don’t want to say it was a scattershot approach, but it was by sheer force of just throwing so much against the consumer we know we’re going to [get a hit]. It was Hollywood. We’re no longer Hollywood. We’re more precise than that.

If you look at what we needed to do, we put up big bets and now we have more marketing money to put behind our top-quality games. And we just don’t work in that middle tier anymore because we moved our resources to the Facebook platform, the mobile phone platform and pushing people back to PC. That’s where those people have gone.

We’re accused of being too safe, but then I’ll point to Mirror’s Edge — not a commercial success in the broad terms that we look at it, but certainly as an innovation, was brilliant. The art style, the character herself, the idea of taking this kind of parkour thing but a backstory of authoritarianism in cities, it was brilliant. Again, and you take risks — we don’t get credit a lot for the risks we take.

Wired: But as you narrowed from 67 games down to 14, it was the Mirror’s Edges that were the casualties.

Moore: The problem as well is from the chronological perspective: The deeper you get in the back end of the generation, the less that a new IP is going to work. You start saving up your creative bullets for when you think the next generation of hardware is going to come along. So you start thinking in those terms. It’s very difficult, if not impossible — I can’t think of new IP that launches five or six years into a generation of gaming hardware that is successful. It’s just not the time to do it.

Over the coming years you’ll see a rebirth of new IP, new genres. With these platforms, you’ve got to be looking to re-imagine the way they deliver games. Otherwise, why would you buy them?”

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