Vatra boss leaves Silent Hill to join Heavy Iron
Matthew Seymour joins UFC Trainer dev as it positions for tablet growth
Matthew Seymour, former head at Silent Hill Downpour studio Vatra, has left the company to join Heavy Iron in the US, GamesIndustry.biz can reveal.
Heavy Iron most recently completed UFC Trainer on Kinect, having gone independent from publisher THQ in 2009. Seymour has 20 years of experience in the games business, having worked for 2K Games and Microsoft Game Studios, amongst others.
At Vatra, former development director Andy Pang has taken on the role of studio head, while Brian Gomez remains design director on the latest Silent Hill game.
In the short-term Heavy Iron still sees opportunities in the home console space, Seymour told GamesIndustry.biz, now that market, methods and technology has settled and standardised.
Seasoned developers can really take advantage of tablets now. The $15-$20 mark is starting to feel pretty sweet
Matthew Seymour, Heavy Iron
"We have projects in place on the console space and it's great to work in a mature space. It's good to be working with established methods and it’s comfortable - maybe too comfortable," he said. "Heavy Iron got a handle on the motion control interface nice and early. There's a lot of attention on us, and we enjoy that interface, it's fun," he added, hinting that the "there may be more opportunities there soon".
Working on Kinect was a conscious decision for Heavy Iron president Lyle Hall, who wanted to break away from the studio's image as a developer of kids titles, especially as it was also going independent from THQ.
"Two years ago I jumped all over it, where there's new hardware there's new opportunities in the short term. We supported the hell out of that. We wanted to challenge ourselves and get away from kids games as quickly as possible," he said.
"We could have closed Heavy Iron when THQ let us go and walk away but what else was I going to do? It's a scary, exciting, challenging, dynamic business and some of it's luck, but you also create you own luck if you work fricking hard."
"Frankly, it was really hard when we started as the business never started independent, it began as a THQ studio," he added. "It was a hangover, we had to make it feel like people were still coming to the same job but with their own identity. But now we're independent we need to be agile and nimble, as well as being great creators. You're only as good as the effort you put in."
In the mid to longer term Heavy Iron is eyeing growth in the tablet market as a place for its expertise, now that the technology becomes more powerful and users are looking for richer entertainment.
"We're still interest in consoles in the short term, as much as it will allow, it's our expertise, but that's not where growth is happening," acknowledged Hall. "The new opportunities we're seeing is that finally we can bring what we do to the mobile and tablet screens. You need to consider entertainment differently for a different screen and audience, but our ability to create big titles, we can bring that to bear on these platforms."
"I'm not sure I agree with Strauss Zelnick that we can take those prices up to $40," added Seymour. "But seasoned developers can really take advantage of that platform now. We're starting to see people have an appetite for paying more money. The $15-$20 mark is starting to feel pretty sweet. That's looking extremely sexy."