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Van Caneghem launches new mobile studio

"I call this the renaissance of gaming"

Jon Van Caneghem will be familiar to Might And Magic fans but the veteran developer is ready for a new challenge. Today he launches his new studio, VC Mobile Entertainment, where he intends to apply his AAA development past to the mobile market.

"For me, as a game developer for a long time and also an entrepreneur, it's just such an amazing opportunity. I call this the renaissance of gaming," he told GamesIndustry.biz

"Never before has there been a way to get to so many consumers so easily and so many people who are actually playing games on mobile devices."

Van Caneghem explains that he's not about championing one platform or another; he just wants to be where the gamers are. He believes they're on mobiles.

"The second thing is the types of games that are succeeding are very much similar to what I built in the past, so strategy and RPGs are very popular on mobile devices."

"This really reminds me of some earlier PC games days - it's a smaller team, less of a giant budget and there's a lot more chance to iterate, there's a lot more chance to be creative"

The list of games in Van Caneghem's portfolio is too long to reproduce here, but as well as the Might And Magic franchise it includes the Heroes Of Might And Magic series, Empire II: The Art of War and the Heroes Chronicles series. He also spent time at Electronic Arts working on a Command & Conquer title but the studio was closed before the game could be released.

He's not ready to talk about the game he's making just yet, but from the hints above you can guess the genre. The game will be released later this year and he sees its target market as all gamers.

"I think it's a matter of adjusting the type of game for the play sessions and the type of play style," he says. He goes on to explain that the development process for mobile, the constant iteration, is pretty familiar to a veteran of the industry.

"This really reminds me of some earlier PC games days - it's a smaller team, less of a giant budget and there's a lot more chance to iterate, there's a lot more chance to be creative. And that's why I view this as such an exciting time for game design and development. It's not a 200-person, four-year endeavour to build a product."

To help that development process, the studio used its stealth period (it's been secretly busy for around a year) to secure a Series A investment round worth $4.5 million that included investments from Tencent and Pacific Sky Investments.

"It's made a big difference. Obviously the mobile space is crowded and has a lot of noise and to be able to rise above that was important. We wanted to raise the production values so that's helping with that.

"At the same time it's really a worldwide market and having a partner like Tencent who will handle our China distribution is just wonderful, they bring a lot of experience and ability to speed us up."

The game is currently nearing the beta stage and Van Caneghem is confident that when it is released the studio will be able to tackle the dreaded discoverability issue head on.

"Obviously we're hoping that the previous following on games we've built before is going to help us get started and there's a lot of ways to start attracting attention," he explains.

"It's definitely a concern but I think we have a bunch of plans that should help us rise above the noise. I think working with Tencent is also key to that mission."

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