The founders of Blue Tongue Entertainment have formed a new Melbourne-based games company, Twiitch, and are preparing for the launch of their first game Coco Loco in March.
Twiitch was founded by chief technology officer Shane Stevens and general manager Steven Spagnolo, who sold Blue Tongue Entertainment to electronic games publisher THQ in 2004.
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Stevens and Spagnolo went on to become global directors of technology at THQ, visiting developers around the world, performing technical due diligence and solving problems.
Now they’ve founded Twiitch, a new studio that’s in the process of launching its first game.
It seems they got out of THQ at the right time, with the company forced to close Blue Tongue last year amid financial difficulties.
Twiitch is 100% owned by Stevens and Spagnolo, who used funds from the sale of Blue Tongue to start up. Twiitch currently employs 10 staff and also uses contractors regularly.
“When we sold Blue Tongue, the industry was very focused on console development. Steven and I were just not comfortable anymore with that space,” Stevens says.
“We could see that the writing was on the wall for these multi-year development cycles.”
“It would take years to find out if a product will be a success, it’s a crowded market and you’d have to sell two million units just to break even.”
“We just weren’t comfortable with where it was all going. Then we started to notice the change… Apple opened up iOS to any developer and cut the publisher out of the picture.”
“Halfbrick and Firemint are good examples of new studios built in this industry. We could see the future was social and we wanted to put ourselves on the map in that respect.”
Twiitch’s first game, Coco Loco, will launch on March 8. It’s published by Chillingo, which is a division of Electronic Arts.
An iOS game for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, it is less than 20 megabytes in size. It can be downloaded in seconds from the App Store via 3G from wherever consumers are.
“It’s a fun, physics-based action game, containing light puzzle elements, with revolutionary interactive fluid dynamics never seen before in a mobile game,” Stevens says.
Despite the tough environment for local game studios, Stevens is confident Twiitch will be a success.
“Our most important differentiator is we’ve been there and we’ve done that. We’re not going to make the mistakes other companies make,” he says.
“We also don’t have a foot in the previous industry – the boxed product industry is dying.”
“The benefit of being built from the ground up is that we’re agile. We keep costs low, use contractors where we can, and use our technical skills to solve problems others can’t solve.”
Stevens’ advice to other developers entering the industry is to “think about these challenges from the beginning, and live and breathe it”.
“Research like crazy and don’t try bringing previous gaming industry experience to the table and assume you’ll own it. You’re dead if you do,” he says.