Burbank, Calif.-based independent developer Insomniac Games, makers of the best-selling "Ratchet & Clank" and "Resistance" franchises, is expanding to the East Coast. The company will open a studio in the Raleigh-Durham area by January 2009.
According to Ted Price, founder and CEO of Insomniac Games, the studio will hire 25 to 30 developers for its North Carolina studio, which will also be called Insomniac Games. They will create original games and work on and existing products.
“As a studio, Insomniac Games is known for developing high-quality, blockbuster titles and for nurturing a creative and collaborative culture,” said Price. “Our goal with the North Carolina studio is to blend our experience and proven track record with the tenacity of a start-up venture. Expanding to Raleigh-Durham also allows us to maintain an ideal size in Burbank while offering an attractive alternative for developers wishing to live on the East Coast.”
The new studio will be run by Insomniac veterans Chad Dezern, who’s currently the art director, and Shaun McCabe, who’s currently the gameplay lead. The plan is for Dezern, who will become the North Carolina studio director, and McCabe, who will become production director, to move to North Carolina this fall after Resistance 2 is completed in Burbank.
"All options are open right now," said Dezern, when asked where the new studio will be opened. "We’re going out as early as next week on office-hunting trips."
Dezern said one of the next things he’ll do is reach out to the local universities, since the studio has job vacancies it needs to fill. Price said the number of universities in the area was one reason that North Carolina was chosen for this studio.
"We look for candidates from any school that has a solid technical or artistic background," said Price. "They don’t have to necessarily have to come from a game-specific curriculum."
Price said that over the last few months, Insomniac has been sharing a lot of its technology with the industry through its Nocturnal Initiative (nocturnal.insomniacgames.com) in the hopes of allowing everyone to make better games. This also opens the door for local Raleigh students, even those without a degree but with an understanding of game development and technology, to apply for jobs at the new studio.
"We’ve been hoping that the technology we’ve released and a lot of the explanations we’ve put out on our Web site are helping students and potentially future Insomniacs understand how we do things," said Price. "We’ll continue to share more and more information with the rest of the world."
Although Burbank was Price’s choice for founding Insomniac 14 years ago, he’s a native of Virginia and he’s spent plenty of time in North Carolina, so he knows what a great place it is for opening up a new studio.
"Because of the success we’ve enjoyed with the games that went out the past few years, we’ve been able to take advantage of an opportunity on the other side of the country and do something that’s a little different for us," said Price. "I think that’s part of Insomniac’s philosophy of trying new things and continuing to evolve as the industry changes and continuing to stay on the cutting-edge of everything that we can in the game industry."
Dezern said the fact that there are established game studios in the area was definitely a plus for Insomniac. Epic Games, creators of the "Gears of War" and "Unreal Tournament" franchises, Red Storm Entertainment, Virtual Heroes, Destineer Games, cdv Software Entertainment, Funcom and Icarus Studios are just some of the established game companies that have chosen the Research Triangle for offices or headquarters.
"This team is being lead by two veterans at Insomniac and our goal here is to make top-quality original titles," said Price. "They’re not ports. They’re not second-rate titles. This is a team that has the equivalent firepower to the teams in Burbank. Furthermore, we’re trying to make sure that this is Insomniac Games. We’re all one team. We support each other back and forth across the country and we want to maintain the familial atmosphere that we’ve had for so many years here in Burbank."
Price said that although the team will only number 30, the studio will be able to work on top-quality PS3 games.
"Our goal is to operate as a largely autonomous studio in North Carolina, but at the same time we’ll be using Insomniac’s tools and tech to do everything," added Dezern.
Insomniac Games has sold more than 28.5 million copies of its games since the company was founded in 1994.