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CastAR hires entire Eat Sleep Play dev team

AR startup gathers momentum with more key hires for its Utah studio ahead of launch next year

CastAR has continued its impressive run of new hires by adding the entire development team from Eat Sleep Play to its studio in Utah.

The Salt Lake City studio was formed in September this year with staff from Avalanche, which closed when Disney ceased production of its toys-to-life IP Disney Infinity. Avalanche employed around 300 people, only a fraction of which later found jobs with CastAR.

At the time of the new studio's opening CastAR had 70 employees, and that number has been given a significant bump by the addition of Eat Sleep Play's dev team. Founded in 2007 by God of War director David Jaffe, Eat Sleep Play's first two projects were both games in the Twisted Metal franchise, which Jaffe had helped to create during his time at Sony. Jaffe departed the company in February 2012, leaving the company in the hand of its co-founder Scott Campbell, who will be joining CastAR along with the rest of the development team.

CastAR president and COO Steve Parkis said he was "thrilled to have their experienced developers join the castAR Salt Lake City team. The continued expansion of our development staff brings together an all-star content creation team focused on developing augmented reality experiences, and increases our momentum towards launching the first mass market augmented reality gaming platform."

The exact size of the Eat Sleep Play team wasn't disclosed, and neither was the situation the company how faces following the departure of so many of its staff. We have reached out to Eat Sleep Play for more information.

For CastAR, though, this is just another sign that the company is poised to be an early leader in the market for AR games. Along with hiring staff from Avalanche, this year it has also brought in former LucasArts president Darrell Rodriguez as its CEO, and the former Disney and Zynga exec Steve Parkis as COO. Last month, it appointed Sony's Peter Dille as CMO, and Activision's former hardware director Arnie Sen as VP of engineering.

The CastAR system is scheduled to launch next year. When company founder Jeri Ellsworth talked to at GDC earlier this year, she described a product with a lower barrier to entry than VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

"The VR systems, they're going for brute force. It's an arms race for the number of pixels," she said. "We're about fun, and part of the fun experience is that we can serve a large demographic and it's affordable. Our target is what you would consider paying for a console, not a $1,000 PC that you have to lug out to your living room.

"The vision is people get this, open the game board, hit the power button, it'll be pre-loaded with games, and you will just play."

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