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Keiichi Yano, Chris Esaki form Jumo

Veteran developers launching indie toys-to-life outfit with mobile shooter Infinite Arms

To date, the toys-to-life genre has been dominated by giant companies, existing brands, and console-focused efforts, but a new studio is trying to change that. A group of veteran developers and toy makers this week announced Seattle-based Jumo, Inc., a studio that looks to make its mark in the toys-to-life field with Infinite Arms, a game that intentionally strays from the genre's norms.

For one thing, Infinite Arms is an original Jumo intellectual property, a third-person shooter with giant robots duking it out against AI-controlled minions and other players in a variety of arenas. Additionally, the toys coming to life are not tiny plastic statues with an RFID chip inside; they're considerably larger and more articulated representations of their digital counterparts that connect to mobile devices through Bluetooth, which means players don't need pricey portal accessories (but do need batteries).

The game part of the equation is also a departure from genre convention, eschewing the console-styled 3D platformer model to be a mobile free-to-play game for Android and iOS. And while the toys aren't necessary to play the game, having the figures (and their assortment of regularly released mix-n'-match weapon accessories) opens up new options for those willing to spend a little money.

Leading up Jumo as CEO is Keiichi Yano, former chief creative officer of Japanese indie studio iNiS and a developer best known for his work on rhythm games like Gitaroo Man, Ouendan, and Elite Beat Agents. The studio's chief creative officer is Chris Esaki, former creative director at Microsoft Studios whose work on kill.switch and Gears of War helped establish the cover shooter mechanic.

Former Namco Entertainment president and Mobage general manager Akio Fujii is bringing his knowledge of the mobile space to the executive management team as chief strategy officer, while toy industry veteran Yasuo Takahama, who worked as a designer on franchises like Transformers and Tamagotchi, is the group's chief fast toys officer. ("Fast toys" is the name the company has given to its expedited process for creating new physical products that it will release on a regular basis using online retailer Amazon.)

As Infinite Arms is a new intellectual property, Jumo is also building out a world of characters and stories as it builds the game. To assist with that, the company has Tom Abernathy serving as director of narrative design. Abernathy has extensive experience writing for games like League of Legends, Halo: Reach, and The Division.

Infinite Arms has a late summer release window.

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