Seamus Blackley launches iOS games company with a boatload of Atari veterans

I was wondering where Seamus would end up after leaving Creative Artists after eight years, but I was pretty sure it’d be game related. I was right. Apparently he’s been planning this a while because he’s popped up as head of a new startup – Innovative Leisure. He’s hired 11 Atari game veterans from the 70′s and 80′s, plus a bunch of interns (I assume to do the actual coding) and has gotten funding from THQ, which has the right of first refusal for all the games. Kudos to Seamus for jumping back into the fray, though I hope he gets some early successes out, because THQ isn’t known for keeping on developers who fail to deliver successful games. When the CEO takes a 50% salary cut, it’s not a good time to be an expense to a company. Dean Takahashi in Games Beat posted a nice article. But you can also read THQ’s press release, the salient parts I’ve posted here. Let’s hope that the video arcade brain trust he’s collected can come with something to hold the interest of the attention deficit denizens of casual gaming.

AGOURA HILLS, Calif., Feb 03, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — THQ today announced a strategic agreement with digital development studio Innovative Leisure, a new company formed by games industry veterans. The agreement will focus on creating and publishing digital games available through digital and mobile platforms. The agreement gives THQ the right to publish multiple Innovative Leisure titles starting in 2012.

Innovative Leisure comprises games industry icons with experience on some of the industry’s biggest games through its history. The team includes Seamus Blackley (“father of the Xbox”), Van Burnham (Supercade), Ed Logg (Asteroids, Centipede, Gauntlet), Rich Adam (Missile Command, Gravitar, PGA Tour Golf), Tim Skelly (Rip Off, Star Castle, Reactor), Owen Rubin (Major Havoc, Space Duel), and Ed Rotberg (Battlezone, S.T.U.N. Runner, Steel Talons). The team’s experience designing and developing highly popular pick-up-and-play gameplay mechanics will be leveraged to innovate and iterate brand-new, modern games on mobile, social and downloadable platforms.

“We are always looking to work with the best creative talent in the video games industry and we feel this relationship with Innovative Leisure reinforces our goal,” said Danny Bilson, executive vice president, Core Games, THQ. “We are committed to delivering creative games through digital distribution and Innovative Leisure has the expertise to deliver remarkable and cutting edge games for a new generation.”

“It’s a great honor (and a lot of fun) to get the opportunity to work with so many of the designers responsible for the gameplay mechanics that form the basis of our whole medium,” said Seamus Blackley, President of Innovative Leisure. “We’re excited about getting to make and release a bunch of awesome games.”

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