Bad Robot, the media production company headed by famed nostalgia-lord J.J. Abrams, is expanding into the games industry with help from Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent. The company will lend its expertise in film to partner developers at both the indie and AAA level.
“I’m a massive games fan, and increasingly envious of the amazing tools developers get to work with, and the worlds they get to play in,” explained Abrams in the partnership’s announcement. “Now we are doubling down on our commitment to the space with a unique co-development approach to game making that allows us to focus on what we do best, and hopefully be a meaningful multiplier to our developer partners.”
Designers, visual artists and writers from Bad Robot will collaborate with developers, aiming at all game markets: PC, console and mobile.
Tencent will presumably provide funding and clout, in exchange for commercial rights to distribution of resulting titles. That probably limits the new company from doing what Abrams is perhaps most famous for, rejuvenating aging franchises with a modern aesthetic and a great deal of lens flare. Many popular AAA franchises — think Call of Duty and Uncharted — are deeply tied to publishers in multi-year or perpetual exclusivity arrangements.
Abrams himself won’t be the head of the new endeavor; the reins will instead belong to Dave Baranoff, who has done the gaming and interactive content for Bad Robot for the last decade. This isn’t his first foray into the “real” games industry — he and Bad Robot are currently working with Epic and ChAIR on a mysterious title called Spyjinx. But it is presumably the start of something rather bigger than a one-off partnership or movie promotion.
Tim Keenan, who created the amazing Duskers, will be the creative director, which is a good sign.
No further announcements, such as a first project or development partner, were made — just the formation of the company. We may hear more during E3, though, so stay tuned.