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Seismic Waves

As new social studio Seismic Games launches, CEO and Pandemic founder Greg Borrud explains why developers are desperate to join the social trend

Recently it might feel as if a new social gaming focused studio is being launched every week. And maybe they are, but not all of them are set up by serious industry players with a strong vision that will make their products unique.

Enter Greg Borrud, one of the founders of Seismic Games, a new studio that launches today and aims to create social games that draw on events in the real world, incorporating them into game play. Before starting Seismic about a year ago, Borrud co-founded Pandemic Studios, as well as working at Activision and as a VP for Electronic Arts, who bought Pandemic in 2007.

At Seismic he's joined by Eric "Giz" Gewirtz, a designer with credits like Star Wars: Battlefront, and Chris Miller, the company president and a man with serious publishing experience with Vivendi. Borrud spoke exclusively to to explain a little more about why the three decided social was the path to follow, and what would stop their game being just another Farmville rip off. How did Seismic start?
Greg Borrud

We started the company about a year ago, I teamed up with a couple of partners from the traditional games space. So we've got the industry experience, we all started at Activision around the same time about 16 or 17 years ago and we've seen this incredible growth in the traditional game space when it started as this very small, niche industry. We've seen that whole growth from PC to consoles to what it is today.

It was Chris, Eric, who we call Giz, and myself, and we were talking about what we wanted to do next, and we were looking at do we want to go back into the traditional game space where we spent our careers? Where are we, where do we want to go? And we looked at the social space, and it was such an incredible exciting place and it reminded us a lot of what the gaming industry used to be like 15 years ago Smaller development teams that could be much more inventive, lower costs for development so you can be a bit more experimental and really try some fun stuff, and it just absolutely had that appeal.

This is the wild west, this is an area where we can really make our mark.

This is the wild west, this is an area where we can really make our mark, and we felt like we had an opportunity to do something very unique and really compelling. So that was about a year ago and we went out and started raising money. You mentioned your background in the industry?
Greg Borrud

We're three equal partners here, but my background is I was one of the co-founders, with Josh Resnick and Andrew Goldman, of Pandemic Studios. And we started in '98, and it was a very similar story to this. We had 13 people when we started Pandemic, I think we had about 12 when we started Seismic Games.

And that experience depending on studios over the 12 years, we grew quite a bit, we did a lot of games with traditional games developers, like Star Wars Battlefront, the Mercenaries series, Destroy All Humans, Full Spectrum Warrior, we really tried blending great action games that were very mass market and had a very broad appeal.

We grew the company up, and we were merged with Bioware in 2005 and bought by a private equity company, we were then purchased by EA in 2007. And then the company was effectively shut down in 2009 after the economy tanked in 2008. So it was a very interesting ride and we learned a lot through that experience of developing games, and we wanted to draw on that experience of developing very high end, very consumer friendly mass market type games.

And I'd worked with Eric Wartz, Giz, at Pandemic Studios where he was probably our best creative director there, in terms of sales for sure., He was behind Star Wars Battlefront I and II which were two of our best selling games, and certainly two of our most popular games.

And we'd also known Chris Miller, he had been at Activision back in the day, but Chris went a different route, he stayed on the publishing side. So Chris had done a stint at Fox, and then he was at Vivendi, No One Lives Forever was one of his big franchises and FEAR was one of his big franchises, and so what we loved about working with Chris was that he brought this whole publishing side. Giz and I had the development aspect of the project development, Chris brought this whole publishing side to the table and really rounded out the three of us pretty well. And how have things been since then?
Greg Borrud

So about a year ago we started raising funds, and we were focusing on making technically what we saw as an opportunity for next gen social games, where is the future going to go? And we raised our money in about April, about $2 million to date, and we started hiring the team. We're just over 20 people now and we're located in Los Angeles, and working on our first title which will be launching in the first quarter. So we're pretty excited about what 2012 holds, about getting our first game out there, how can we help move the incredible industries of social games forward? What's our contribution going to be?

Rachel Weber avatar
Rachel Weber: Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.
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