The layoffs at Zynga inadvertently paved the way for a new studio.
Nobody likes hearing about people losing their jobs, but every stock price plunge has its silver lining. After Zynga Boston was shuttered in a wave of studio closures, a few of its former employees put their heads together to keep doing what they do best - making games. The result of that endeavor is the newly opened Proletariat Inc., a five-man team with an inspired mission: to "wrest game development from big industry and return it to the people."
Members of the team have known each other for a while before creating Proletariat. Having worked together at Conduit Labs, a developer of web-based music games, they were brought into Zynga after Conduit was acquired by the social games publisher in 2010. There they developed Indiana Jones Adventure World, one of the more ambitious titles released by Zynga. Now that they're off the leash, the team hopes to bring that ambition to new audiences on mobile devices.
CEO Seth Sivak thinks their experience can help them succeed as an indie developer. "We have all known each other and worked with one another for so long that we've developed an organic way of making games together," he said. "We all want to make successful games, both creatively and as a business. This team has been on both sides and knows how to find that balance." The founding team members are veterans of Harmonix, Turbine, and Insomniac, so it looks like they know what they're getting into. Unlike the industry giants they learned from, however, Sivak aims to keep the studio small, in order to "let highly skilled groups of creative people innovate."
Proletariat's first title, Letter Rush, will be launching for iPhone and iPad sometime next week. It's a classic word-find game with an arcade-style twist, with support for competitive play via local multiplayer. Their next project isn't announced yet, but they're already working on something for the "core tablet market." For now, only time will tell how "the people" will feel about their indie revolution.