The creators behind a host of Atari arcade classics are reuniting to take on mobile and social games. Their new studio, Innovative Leisure, was unveiled today through a Time Magazine feature and a THQ announcement that the publisher would be handling multiple games from the developer, starting later this year.
Innovative Leisure is the brainchild of Seamus Blackley, technical director of the original Xbox. As president of the new outfit, Blackley tapped a handful of old-school arcade developers--most of them from Atari--for a new venture to leverage their experience with pick-up-and-play projects in social and mobile gaming markets that share the same priorities. The lineup of developers includes Ed Logg (Asteroids, Centipede, Gauntlet), Rich Adam (Missile Command, Gravitar), Ed Rotberg (Battlezone, S.T.U.N. Runner), Tim Skelly (Rip Off, Reactor), and Owen Rubin (Major Havoc, Space Duel), among others.
There are a number of parallels between the arcade market and the current social and mobile sector of today, including a low barrier to entry for casual audiences, both in terms of the investment required and the complexity of the games themselves. "We've come full circle," Rubin told Time. "The iPad and the iPhone--they're the new arcade."
According to the magazine, Innovative Leisure has a total of 30 employees working to release seven games this year. One of the games, WWI Dogfight, is a turn-based flight combat game that features asynchronous multiplayer action with players piloting biplanes back and forth.
Innovative Leisure will have a formal unveiling at next week's DICE Summit in Las Vegas with a featured keynote panel titled "The New Arcade." The DICE Summit (It stands for Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) is an annual conference where movers and shakers in the game industry converge to talk about the latest trends and discuss the next big thing with their peers. GameSpot will be at the event, with complete video coverage of all the sessions, as well as the Interactive Achievement Awards, which will be held Thursday, February 9 and hosted by Jay Mohr.