One year to the day after the closure of Blue Tongue and THQ Studio Australia, MCV takes a look at where the former staff have gotten to.
Kevin Chan (Studio GM) and Nick Hagger (Creative Director) went on to create a new company called Robot Circus, which now houses four ex-THQ dev studio employees. The team has received multiple bouts of funding from Australian government grant programs, is currently looking for artists (click here if you’re interested) and is pushing into the interactive book space.
Lewis Mitchell went indie, creating SmallGreenHill and launching cult hit Ball on a Wall for iOS, and prepping now to launch the Chillingo-published Man in a Maze later this year.
A trio of ex-devs, Paul Baker, Chris Burns and Drew Morrow went indie as well, forming Three Phase Interactive, an outfit which is mere weeks away from launching its first title for iOS entitled Stunt Star.
Maciej Sawitus has already had a run at indie development, creating iOS titles Monstaaa! and Puzzled Rabbit under the moniker Pixel Elephant, but finally relenting and going back to a larger studio, currently residing at the newly-formed Firemonkeys studio.
Sawitus told MCV: “I did my best to succeed as an indie game developer but things turned out to be really tough there. My recent game (Monstaaa!) got many great reviews on gaming portals and blogs and has high user ratings yet the sales are disappointing.”
“In particular, it is very difficult for a small iOS/Android developer to succeed without strong featuring by Apple/Google on highly competitive mobile markets today.”
Meanwhile, James Davies has moved over to long-standing independent Aussie developer Tantalus, also based in Melbourne.
Davies muses: “I still miss Blue Tongue; I think it’s such a shame that a studio with so many talented and passionate game developers was closed down. It’s a small industry though (especially in Oz!) so it’s no surprise that I’m still rubbing shoulders with some of my old colleagues and friends.”
In other parts of the world, Richard Lyons stayed in the industry by moving across to North America and joining Vigil Games (which is currently taking a well-deserved break after finalising Darksiders II). He still remembers Blue Tongue as being the best studio he’s ever worked at and told MCV that he’s stoked to have been able to contribute even a small amount to a title like Darksiders.
Then of course, there’s THQ Australia’s former Head of Studio Marketing Chris Wright, who went on to create his own small business providing marketing services to small indie studios, and enjoying rapid growth since its inception in October of last year. Many of the above indies have been with Surprise Attack, and most recently the company has partnered with the nascent Turn Left Distribution and secured the rights to Disney games in Australia.
There remain many small stories of success and tragedy in the ashes of THQ’s Australian studios. While studio closures are always a painful process, it’s heartwarming to see so many developers find other ways to channel their passions, especially while being able to remain in Melbourne.
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