Video games are a huge market. This industry sector is growing everyday and is expected to be worth over $90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. Here in Pasadena, Industrial Toys is one a few developers looking to fill the mobile gaming gap for core gamers by pushing the boundaries of mobile game design. Recently Brent Pease, Director of Operations, sat down with the Future Yourself Here Team to discuss the Industrial Toys story, including its acquisition by Electronic Arts, and how their company culture aims to combat the dreaded “corrosive crunch.”
What is the Industrial Toy’s Story?
Three game industry veterans, Alexander Seropian, Brent Pease and Tim Harris, founded Industrial Toys in 2012 with the mission of making AAA-quality, “core” games for mobile devices. More than a tagline, “Mobile to the Core” means that we are also making mobile games for core gamers. Our products arose from a problem that we saw with core games played on game consoles coming out on mobile devices with design baggage from other platforms, such as FPS (first-person shooters). An example would be the presence of “two-stick controls” which makes sense on a console but is not suited to touchscreen phones and other mobile devices. We want to make games native to mobile so we looked to UI and other conventions that better fit how people use their mobiles.
Our first games, Midnight Star and Midnight Star: Renegade made progress toward that goal and taught us a lot about how to achieve this. These games paved the way for our recent acquisition by Electronic Arts, one of the largest game publishers in the world. Now at EA we are working on a new title, which should coalesce all of that learning and hopefully entertain a lot of people.
What are some of Industrial Toy’s Accomplishments that you are most proud of?
Our first two games brought us many thousands of players and fans and we kept them happy for years. We are proud of that and grateful to our players. And, honestly, as a small indie game developer in what is a saturated games market, it’s a big accomplishment just to keep the doors open for six years.
Now, we are looking forward to rising to the challenge that some of our fellow studios of EA have posed. A gauntlet has been thrown, that of matching the success of a game like Apex Legends from our friends at Respawn Entertainment. It won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge that spurs us on.
What is the Biggest Hurdle you faced in launching your company?
Staring at a blank page at the beginning of a project. You have 100% freedom at that point, which can be daunting but exciting at the same time.
What do you do to live a balanced life?
Work hard but know when to stop. Regardless of what’s going on, we knock off at 5:30 every Wednesday to have a themed Happy Hour, where we relax with snacks, drinks, games and conversation. Many of our devs have been in the industry for decades and know firsthand how corrosive “crunch” and burnout are to a team so we use several techniques to avoid that.
Of course, the real fix for an unbalanced work life is planning, planning, planning. Producers who are empowered, open, and keep a laser focus on project scope vs. schedule, are critical.
What is the coolest app on your phone that you cannot live without?
Command and Conquer Rivals from EA.
What makes Pasadena an attractive Place to do business?
Pasadena is really the best of both worlds: smaller-town livability with big-city resources and amenities. The pool of tech talent here is amazing, due to places like Caltech, ArtCenter, JPL, etc. It’s easy to get to attractions in LA when you want, but you don’t have to deal with the cost of living, traffic and other headaches. Great food, great cultural activities and diversity - all make Pasadena a wonderful place to live and work.