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Activision, Pandemic vets team up for VR/AR

Seismic Games acquires Grue Games; CEO Greg Borrud tells us, "We are treating VR as more R&D vs. going 'all-in'"

Seismic Games, which was founded in 2011 and has worked on original and licensed IPs such as Clan Wars for Call of Duty and Skylander Battlecast for mobile, announced that it's acquired Grue Games today. Grue is a new studio focused on mixed reality projects. Grue CEO John Linden, the former Studio Head of Beachhead (Activision Blizzard) will now take on the new role of President and Trey Watkins, Grue's Chief Creative Officer, will lead the former Grue development teams. Moving forward, the combined studios will operate under the Seismic brand.

Seismic said that it's "expanding rapidly" and has two new games based on "major movie universes" in development for 2017 and it's collaborating on an original IP VR project. The company is primarily focused on mobile VR, but it's also working on a new location-based attraction. Seismic has grown to over 50 employees across its two offices in Los Angeles.

"Seismic Games has quickly grown into an independent studio that is at the forefront of creating high production, cutting-edge graphics and compelling multiplayer experiences across mobile and VR. Nurturing talent from both triple-A production and tech start-up backgrounds has meant that we have been able to build upon and develop on newer platforms without compromising creativity or player engagement. Teaming up with John, Trey and Grue Games has cemented our vision and will allow us to evolve faster," said Greg Borrud, CEO of Seismic Games.

John Linden added, "The studio merge follows what has been an incredible year for both Grue and Seismic Games. It's very exciting for the team and I to join forces with another like-minded studio who are equally as passionate in innovating and creating high quality games across mobile and VR platforms, with a key focus on taking mixed reality experiences and licensed game properties to the next level. We are very excited about our slate of games over the next few years."

Borrud is a 20-year industry veteran whose Pandemic Studios was acquired by Electronic Arts back in 2007 for $860 million. Seismic co-founder Eric Gewirtz has served as chief creative officer and brings valuable experience from working with high-profile brands, having served as director of Star Wars: Battlefront 1 & 2, which has sold more than 14 million units.

While there has been growing concern from the development community about how to make any money in VR at this early stage, Seismic is taking a cautious approach. "We are treating VR as more R&D vs. going 'all-in'. Instead of making one big bet we are experimenting and trying different approaches and concepts," Borrud explained to

"We have three VR products in development and with all of them we are working with publishing partners. Through a more traditional developer/publisher model we share the financial risk and also can work together to take full advantage of opportunities as they come along. We are focusing most of our efforts in mobile VR right now. Since we have spent the last several years doing 3D mobile products we are in a unique position with our technology to take advantage of what will most like be the largest audience through Google Daydream and Oculus Gear VR. We believe there will be a viable economic model on mobile VR in 2017."

With HTC pushing more resources into the arcade scene with Viveport Arcade and more developers bringing VR games and experiences to locations like casinos, Seismic is excited by the possibilities of location-based VR as well. Borrud said it's "less around arcades and more around experiences that are clearly tailored for VR exclusively - a combination of the popularity of 'escape rooms' coupled with VR. We're very interested to see where traditional companies like Disney and Universal go with this tech. And where new companies like 'The Void' can take these new types of VR experiences."

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James Brightman avatar
James Brightman: James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.
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