Smilegate invests $100M in That’s No Moon Entertainment with ex-Sony, Naughty Dog, and Activision devs

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That’s No Moon Entertainment is a new triple-A game development studio with veterans who have attracted more than $one hundred million in investment from CrossFire creator Smilegate.

The group consists of star developers such as Taylor Kurosaki, former studio narrative director at Infinity World and former narrative style lead at Naughty Dog. He will serve as inventive director alongside game director Jacob Minkoff, former style director of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare at Infinity Ward and lead game designer on The Last of Us at Naughty Dog.

Their aim is to provide a most effective-in-class triple-A game and their roster consists of seasoned game development talent with credits that involve Game of the Year award-winning and top rated-promoting titles, such as God of War, Fortnite, The Last of Us Part II, Destiny, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and several more.

South Korea’s Smilegate has generated more than $10.5 billion in revenues from the well known initially-particular person shooter CrossFire, but the business has ambitions to obtain larger audiences in the West, stated Harold Kim, vice president of organization development at Smilegate, in an interview with GamesBeat. The $one hundred million investment is a massive headstart for a young studio, but it is somehow apt in an atmosphere exactly where we’ve seen $60 billion poured into the game sector in the initially six months of 2021 — in terms of acquisitions, investments, and public offerings — according to investment bank Drake Star Partners.


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Besides Kurosaki and Minkoff, That’s No Moon is led by Michael Mumbauer (CEO, formerly head of PlayStation’s Visual Arts Group), Tina Kowalewski (chief method officer, executive vice president of Giant Squid, and formerly director of solution development of Sony’s Santa Monica Studio), Nick Kononelos (chief operating officer, formerly senior development director at Electronic Arts, Barry Genova (chief technologies officer, formerly foundation engineering lead at Bungie), and George Allison (chief monetary officer, formerly head of finance for the Global Services Division at PlayStation).

Is $one hundred million adequate?

Image Credit: That’s No Moon

They located workplace space in Playa del Rey in Los Angeles in the former House of Moves space, which had a motion-capture studio which was used to make a selection of films and shows such as The Mandalorian, The Lion King, as effectively as the Uncharted games. The group has about 40 folks currently and it is shooting to get to one hundred by 2022.

“We feel we can be quite competitive” with a one hundred-particular person studio and a $one hundred million price range, stated Mumbauer in an interview with GamesBeat.

“We feel that we’re with our experience and the veteran talent that we have, and the $100 million budget which is actually pretty unprecedented for a new studio, we’re very confident that we’re already quite well positioned to succeed in this space and genre,” Mumbauer stated.

He stated the business will be accountable about how it scopes the project, even though it is very probable for triple-A games to exceed the budgets and staffing on the level that the business is targeting.

“My belief is we have been very successful in creating a very strong core,” Mumbauer stated. “And our goals are very clear.”


Image Credit: That’s No Moon

The aim is to produce unforgettable stories and characters that will define and extend beyond the medium, stated Mumbauer, in an interview with GamesBeat.

With employees based in Los Angeles and San Diego, That’s No Moon is focused at the intersection of games, film, and Television and was constructed upon core values of creativity, collaboration, accountable production practices, and person empowerment. Kurosaki stated the business is focused on compelling next-generation, genre-defining narratives for single-player games like these he worked on for the Call of Duty and Uncharted franchises.

The business is constructing a diverse group of passionate developers of a wide variety of practical experience levels and backgrounds and poised for speedy development. It is at present filling positions across all core disciplines and plans to attain staffing of practically one hundred developers by 2022.

Kim stated that Smilegate, which has more than 670 million registered players to date and eight million concurrent players, is not completed with its expansions and he stated the business is seeking to recruit more developers and studios in the West. The company’s most up-to-date project, Lost Ark, is a massively multiplayer on line function-playing game coming to North America and Europe in 2021.

What’s in a name?

Image Credit: That’s No Moon

The name itself refers to that moment of awe in the original Star Wars film when Obi Wan Kenobi realizes the modest moon their spaceship is headed for is not a moon but a space station — The Death Star.

Kurosaki stated it is a reference to excellent moments in entertainment that have ignited the audience’s imagination and delivered one thing really unexpected.

“We want people to feel like it’s something big, and something that inspires you,” he stated. “The name certainly is evocative of our mission.”


Image Credit: That’s No Moon

The business got its start off when Mumbauer and Kim met in a conference space at an workplace in Irvine, California. They hit it off and went out to get some Korean barbecue.

“I got a chance to know Mike and I was super impressed how he was very eager,” Kim stated. “He wanted to do something very special. I bonded with Mike and really looked to his leadership skills and his potential to execute. That was exactly one year ago. And after that, we had many, many meetings. We had many, many calls, discussed a lot about what makes a good team building, what makes a good studio.”

He recruited a group of veterans.

“Tina and I had been speaking and she knew I was interested in building a new triple-A studio, and Harold was looking for teams,” Mumbauer stated. “It was an opportunity to reach out of the network of people I had worked with over the last several decades on our passion genre, which is single player, narrative-driven, action-adventure. We had this opportunity to bring such exceptional talent.”

He added, “Smilegate was willing to invest in a team with such big ambitions.”

Kurosaki stated he had recognized Mumbauer for several years with Sony’s visual arts services group in San Diego, California. He recalled touring the location with Uncharted creators Amy Hennig and Evan Wells — then all portion of a group at Naughty Dog on the Uncharted games — and he stated, “We saw an opportunity for our Naughty Dog games to take the next leap, really. And that was all ungated by Mike and his team in San Diego.”

They went on to work on games like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

“We couldn’t have made those games without Mike and his group in in San Diego,” Kurosaki stated.

With additions like Kowalewski and Kononelos, Kurosaki felt like they had a possibility to assemble a dream group. And they would focus on the single-player experiences that lead to watercooler moments and memorable, relatable characters with deep storylines and “stick with you for a long time after you finish playing the game,” Kurosaki stated.

Enter Smilegate

Image Credit: Smilegate

Smilegate specializes in totally free-to-play multiplayer games with live services. But what the business desires with its expansion into the West is to strengthen its storytelling, Kim stated. This is not going to be a multiplayer game.

“We have a shared vision, which is telling memorable stories with positive uplifting messages, but also thought provoking,” Kim stated.

I asked Kim if the game would be connected to the CrossFire universe. But Kim stated the business is not speaking about that however and would reveal the story when it is prepared to announce the project.

I also asked Kurosaki why he left his prior dream jobs at Naughty Dog and Infinity Ward.

“Careers are short, relatively speaking, right?” he stated. “These games now take longer and longer to make. They’re bigger investments and they take more of the few years that we all have. And so we’re always seeking new challenges, we’re always seeking new creative outlets, and this opportunity to create a brand new studio from the ground up with its own culture that can take the best of the places that I’ve been to before.”

Image Credit: Smilegate

Kurosaki stated he was excited to believe about what they would do differently if they weren’t portion of an entrenched culture, if they have been beginning from a blank slate, and had the possibility to double down on points that have been actually profitable.

“On a creative level, it really came down to this partnership with Smilegate, where there is this mutual trust,” Kurosaki stated. “They have said,  that if they felt they had the skill set and the necessary tools to create class-leading narratives, fusing gameplay and story in such a tight way  where you can’t see where one stops and one begins, they would have done that.”

Smilegate acknowledged that was not their strength.

“It’s this prestige project,” Kurosaki stated. “[They said] we want something that is singular. We want something that is deep, and that resonates, and we trust in you to get us there. So that level of trust was incredible. I thought that no matter how great some things are I have going on, I can’t pass this up.”

Even soon after this $one hundred million investment, Kim stated, “We are very much open to discussing other opportunities” to invest in other game providers the West.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz

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