Former Mythic CEO Mark Jacobs has returned after a two-year sabbatical from the industry with casual game firm City State Entertainment.
The Fairfax, Virginia-based firm opened its doors in March, and is currently developing games for mobile, social, and tablets.
“I’m tired of strings and being told what to do by other people,” said Jacobs in an exclusive interview with Forbes. "We’re a very collaborative group where we talk about everything, and that’s what you need if you really want to be successful.
“Social games are certainly a lot easier to develop than a traditional game, let alone an MMO, and because of the faster development cycle and the lower costs, we have a lot more freedom in what we want to do. We don’t have to worry if the hardcore gamers are going to get incredibly upset because we’re doing something a certain way. We don’t have to worry if our game is going to sell another 20 copies. We’re just looking to make fun, enjoyable games.”
Jacobs funded the firm out of pocket, and while staying mum on how much he used to start CSE, he told Forbes it was “a generous seed round” which will keep the firm up and running “for quite a while.”
Currently made up of 12 full-time employees, City State Entertainment includes industry vets such as co-founder Andrew Meggs, who worked with Jacobs at Mythic and at one time, Bethesda. Former Mythic employee Mike Crossmire and Lucas Feld, an artist formerly employed by Obsidian and Day 1 Studios, are also part of the CSE team.
“At the end of the day, when you take other people’s money, you have to do what they tell you to do; I’ve done that before, and a lot of times it’s cost me,” Jacobs said, referencing his time at EA and Mythic.
“I didn’t want this studio to be the old boys’ club. I was looking for, and continue to look for, a mix of people that represent a much more diverse segment of the gaming population — whether that’s women, young people, whoever — and, to be very blunt, not just ‘old white guys.’ I want people who can come in and bring in their different perspectives, and their ideas for new games and features.”
Jacobs said he doesn't want his new company to become the next Zynga, and decries the assumption that the causal market is overly saturated to the point where a newcomer would get lost in a sea of redundancy.
“The market hasn’t saturated yet because the number of devices hasn’t peaked,” he said. "There are a lot of games out there that are nothing more than clones, and that’s not good. It’s not good for Apple, it’s not good for the consumer, it’s not good for anyone. And that is what’s going to change. The mobile and social space hasn’t matured enough, where the developers have really hit their stride on these devices.
“We’re hoping to carve our own niche, but at the end of the day, what we really want to do is just make great, fun games for everyone.”
The first title for the firm is slated for iOS and Android devices, and is to be released in Q4 2011, with a possible release on PC as well.