onsdag 24. februar 2010

Judobaby plans to muscle its way onto the Nintendo Wii

Here’s something you never see anymore in the game industry: a new startup making console games.
But that’s what Judobaby plans to do as it announces today it will make family games for the Nintendo Wii. The company is led by Dan Mueller, a 15-year game industry veteran who once worked at Sony’s U.S. game division (yes, he’s a traitor).
Mueller started toying with the idea back in 2007. He tooled around with as many as 13 different ideas for two years. He sold his house, recruited team members, and raised money from friends and family to get his Redwood City, Calif.-based company off the ground. Once he found the right idea for a game, Mueller formally started the company in February, 2009.
Today, the company has 19 employees and 18 more interns. They’re working away on a family game that could debut as early as the fall of this year. Right now, Mueller is trying to line up a publisher for the game, which remains a secret. Mueller said he didn’t set out to make a Wii game. Rather, that was where the natural audience was.
The name of the company comes from a cute story. Mueller was talking to his wife and he thought he heard her say, “Judobaby.” It wasn’t correct, but the name stuck in his head and the team liked it. It suggests how you can use martial arts to funnel away aggression and remain standing.
In an interview, Mueller said it hasn’t been easy trying to start a new company in the recession. Recruiting many out-of-work game employees was easier than it might have been. Gathering resources has been tough, but Mueller’s uncle turned out to be an adept fundraiser. Richard Anderson is the chief technology officer and a 15-year veteran of Sony, Sega, and other game companies. Ben Harrison is art director and has 15 years of experience making games such as Tomb Raider (yes, it’s the 15-year club here).
Most game startups are focusing on social network games on Facebook or the iPhone. But Mueller said he was glad to be trying something off the beaten path. Console game startups are extremely rare these days because of the cost involved in getting a game into the market. Development costs often range from $10 – 40 million, and marketing is also a huge expense. That’s why game publishers have staffs of hundreds or thousands, and only the biggest companies are able to stay in business.
“There are a lot of startups shooting at the same target,” Mueller said. “I like to shoot at a different target.”
Companies: Judobaby

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