I missed my update last week as I was enroute to the Okanagan for an extended RV trip. I'm writing this now from the sunny beach in Westbank, so please excuse the delay. While I'm out of town, if you'd be so kind as to help me fill my regular news and rumours quota by sending tidbits via my website, that'd be awesome.
And now, in a very particular order, here's what's new in Vancouver's game industry this week:
Is Super Rewards Competing with their Customers?
Despite Super Rewards' vehement claims to the contrary, it appears the company may be in the business of making their own social games after all. Super Rewards is the monetization platform behind many social games and as such has in-depth knowledge of best practices among leading social games, gleaned first-hand from Super Rewards' own partners. It now appears that Super Rewards (or KITN Media, the holding company name) may actually own social game studio DES Games. This obvious conflict of interest is likey the reason for their pointed denial of earlier allegations that they were in the games business.
Here are some quotes from their denial: "To be clear, KITN (Super Rewards) has no plans to launch any games. Our competitors are desperate for a story." and even more direct, "We have tight relationships with all of the major players in the gaming space and have no intentions of competing with them."
So what evidence points to their alleged secret ownership of DownTownEastSide Games (DES Games)?
- The two companies occupy the same office building at 52 Powell Street in Gastown
- An employee of DES Games lists KITN Media/DES Games as his employer on his resume
- A phone call placed to DES Games asking for Jason Bailey (founder of Super Rewards) was not met with a mystified, "Who?" but rather, "He's not in the office at the moment - he's at GDC Europe"
It's not clear whether Adknowledge, the US-based company that recently acquired Super Rewards, also acquired DES Games or to what extent Adknowledge is aware of the gaming division of Super Rewards.
Slant Six Design Director Moving On
David Seymour, ex of EA and Radical, this week announced his impending departure from Slant Six Games (makers of Socom PS3 and PSP). David was the original Design Director at Slant Six, having filled the role since 2005, the same year the company was founded. A huge car nut and big-time console gamer with an encyclopedic knowledge of game design, David leaves a big hole behind at Slant Six but joins an excellent crew at Big Park.
Propaganda Hiring Like Mad... for Tron?
Propaganda is hiring like crazy after the studio went through downsizing last summer (along with nearly everyone else in the industry). Darcy Gog, programmer at Propaganda, posted a Facebook item promoting the hiring (friend him if you need to - good guy). Most interesting though are the semi-confirmed rumblings I've heard that Propaganda is hiring for developers to work on Tron for next gen consoles. Very cool!
Pug Pharm Hires Design Director
James Mouat, ex-Relic and Hothead designer, has accepted the position of Design Director at the social gaming startup, Pug Pharm. His first act was to send me an email, asking if I knew a good vector artist. If you know a good vector/web artist looking for a full time gig, get them to send their application to Pug Pharm's executive producer, Roneil: pugpharm (at) gmail (dot) com
Adrian Crook is a game consultant based in North Vancouver. With over 14 years experience, Adrian designs and produces social, casual and AAA games for a variety of clients. He has spoken on the subject of free-to-play games at GDC and SXSW and writes articles for trade publications.