After two years of planning, the production company is making key moves toward launching its first original IP.
Bad Robot Games recently completed a Series B funding round and raised more than $40 million toward its first cross-medium video game projects. While the studio has yet to announce what this first project is, the funding round enabled CEO Anna Sweet to hire key members for the team and move production forward.
“With this funding, we are able to build out both the studio and co-development sides of our operation, and create games that cross platforms, cross mediums and are based on IP originating from both games and linear content,” Sweet said in an official statement. “We are very much looking forward to announcing our first titles.”
Entertainment content investment group Galactic Interactive led the round, with notable contributions from Horizons Venture and Tencent, the latter of which had already partnered with Abrams’ company to launch Bad Robot Games in 2018.
J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company founded Bad Robot Games in 2018 and hired former Valve member Anna Sweet as CEO in 2020. The studio will leverage its connections to Bad Robot’s film, animation, and TV creative departments to help develop multiple game projects, but has also hired two industry veterans.
Joe Rumsey, former Blizzard and Facebook programmer, is the studio’s technical director, while Oneil Howell is senior level designer. Howell previously worked with Avalanche as level designer for Just Cause 3 and Just Cause 4, and, more recently, was senior level designer at Facebook’s Oculus Quest branch.
Bad Robot is the latest studio to embrace transmedia storytelling, though one of just a few production companies to expand into game development.
In 2019, Sony launched PlayStation Productions to convert some of the entertainment giant’s biggest properties into TV and film properties, including Final Fantasy XIV. The goal is keeping audiences engaged with IP over extended periods through telling stories across different mediums and raising awareness among new audiences.
It’s a practice seen most recently in Epic Games and DC’s Batman/Fortnite Zero Point comic series that explores some of the lore behind Fortnite and highlights one of the game’s key skins.
Some franchises, such as Pokémon, have built their brands on this kind of storytelling for decades.
Transmedia seems most promising for IP audiences are already familiar with, or for new IP with a robust, cross-platform strategy.
For example, Netflix is reportedly investing in a game development effort similar to Apple Arcade after successfully launching two games based on the Stranger Things franchise.
Amazon tried extending into game production through Amazon Luna, but its debut IP Crucible met with extensive difficulties throughout development before its cancellation in late 2020. A number of other issues at Amazon’s development studio rreportedly hampered Crucible’s progress and contributed to its demise. However, Amazon also focused solely on Crucible as a game instead of as a multimedia property, leaving no opportunity to raise awareness of the IP and potentially salvage it in some form once development ended.
Bad Robot Games’ first title is an “original AAA” game with no ties to existing IP. However, with its plans to leverage the IP across multiple genres and even social media platforms, it seems set to avoid the mistakes of other production companies have made.
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