One of the industry's go-to support studios, Certain Affinity is optimistic about the future of its original properties and ongoing collaborative projects. Founder and CEO Max Hoberman breaks it down for GameDaily.
Founded in 2006, Austin, Texas-based Certain Affinity has made its name on supportive video game development. The company has assisted with the multiplayer aspects of some of gaming’s most prominent franchises such as Halo and Call of Duty, earning it a reputation as one of the go-to support studios in the industry. Two years ago, Certain Affinity rode that reputation to a second office located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Next week, the studio will be celebrating the anniversary of the opening of the Toronto location by announcing a high-profile new hire in the form of incoming VP of Canadian operations Dan Ayoub.
Ayoub boasts a resume that spans 20 years in the games industry. He’s worked at Ubisoft, Disney, EA. Most recently, Ayoub was general manager of education at Microsoft following a stint as external studio head for Halo shepherds 343 Industries. For Max Hoberman, founder and CEO of Certain Affinity, Ayoub’s hiring represents a chance to grow the studio by utilizing his invaluable experience, as well as an established rapport.
“What many may not know is that Dan was Certain Affinity’s main point of contact inside of 343 Industries for many years, which established a fantastic working relationship,” Hoberman told GameDaily. “It’s a really amazing time to bring Dan onboard. He has had the pleasure of working with Certain Affinity for over a decade on Halo, and he’s always been impressed by the talent and passion of the CA team.”
Certain Affinity’s history with Halo dates back to 2007 when the studio handled development of two DLC multiplayer maps for Halo 2. Since then, the team has been involved with Halo Reach, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition, Halo 4, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Beyond Halo, Certain Affinity’s portfolio includes supportive roles in a handful of Call of Duty titles, as well as World of Tanks,Left 4 Dead and Doom. In total, Hoberman said that Certain Affinity has been lead developer or co-developer on more than 32 titles across 13 different franchises.
That’s not to say that the studio has been exclusively focused on support. A couple original titles--action-RPG Crimson Alliance (2011) and strategy RTS Age of Booty (2008)--round out the team’s impressive portfolio. When asked if new original games are a priority for Certain Affinity, Hoberman answered in the affirmative.
“Two months ago, we announced that we signed a deal with a publisher to lead development on a new original IP, which we are excited about,” he said. “The actual work doesn’t change drastically from collaborating to developing an original IP. What does change is the excitement of building out our own stories and gameplay ideas, and an increase in team size.”
Apparently, the company’s Canadian operations have been going well; the studio landed a nomination for 2021’s studio of the year by the Canadian Game Awards. It’s an honor that Hoberman doesn’t take for granted, especially considering that Certain Affinity’s Toronto office is only two years old.
“With our Toronto studio’s two-year anniversary next week, Certain Affinity being nominated alongside other incredible Canadian studios is an amazing accomplishment for the Toronto team,” Hoberman said. “Not only have we grown our talent, increased the number of projects being worked on, and made our mark locally in the community, but our peers have also learned what we have to offer above and beyond just the titles we work on. This nomination represents our overall contribution to the Canadian game industry.”
Looking forward, Hoberman said that Ayoub is excited to tap into the robust Canadian dev community.
“There is a remarkable level of skill and diversity in Toronto that just doesn’t exist elsewhere,” Hoberman said. “The magic and the talent is already at Certain Affinity Toronto, as is evidenced from our nomination. The challenge becomes keeping and growing this further.”
It will be interesting to see what Certain Affinity can accomplish moving forward, and how Ayoub’s presence affects the team’s output. You don’t earn a nomination for studio of the year without substantial success. Hopefully the team can keep the momentum going now that Ayoub is part of the equation.
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