Kevin Dent Says Why Seamus Blackley Will Fail

Welcome to the debut of “Kevin Dent Says”, a new recurring column on RPad.TV written by one of the sharpest minds in the business. In his first column, gaming industry veteran Kevin Dent talks about why Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackey’s new studio, Innovative Leisure, doesn’t “get it” and will likely fail…

Kevin Dent is a 13-year veteran from the digital videogames space. After working on virtually every platform, Kevin set up Tiswaz Entertainment to help start-ups, publishers, and investors reach their goals by leveraging his experience and network. He currently heads up the IGDA Mobile Special Interest Group. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of RPad.TV.

I work in an industry where I admire a lot of people, I am amazingly fortunate to work in an industry that is also incredibly talented. I like that.

The stronger my colleagues are, the stronger it makes me want to climb faster and harder.

There is no greater example of that then the mobile gaming business. 14 years ago I started in this space. At the beginning the games were terrible due to the devices limitations and the way the carriers were assholes.

I was on a panel last year with a person from the carrier business and they were trying to defend their past indiscretions. 13 years of abuse was boxed in my soul and I basically let that person have it. It was grossly unfair, but I had ton of games that would have been profitable if it was not for the fact that unless I supported 1,300 devices that were basically shit and my games would never make it to the store.

The obvious solution was to not make any games, but the solution was also a problem. I REALLY enjoy making games, playing games, reading about games, etc. For me it was a life choice.

At the end of the panel three old-schoolers came to me, applauded me, and told me that my rant was fantastic. In terms of loyalty to the platform that I loved it was pretty amazing. Every compliment rained down on me like a blow.

I was just taking cheap shots. It was infantile.

That said, the person has become a good friend since and I have started to help them a lot, but as I have told them, it is a tough gig. There is just one platform today and that is iOS.

OK, sorry for the long lead in….

So my point is, is that mobile is hard; it is basically like the best heart surgeon in the world and saying “dude, gonna move to brain surgery”…. Is it possible? Sure, but it is a totally different skillset. It is not even the same sport.

The same can be said about moving from console, coin-op, PC or handheld; they are not really the same sports.

So when Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley started his new studio, I looked at the lineup and felt two things:

  1. OMFG these guys are legends.
  2. OMFG these guys have no clue what they are doing.

To be clear, the team that Seamus has around him is basically legends. They literally invented the arcade machine and probably own 20 percent of my youth in terms of the money I poured into those devices.

I am utterly convinced that these guys are owed respect on such a monumental level that it isn’t even quantifiable.

With that said, I think they owe respect to gamers more than I owe my respect to them. After all, that is who I ultimately work for. The people that do the jobs that suck, the people that don’t buy the branded soda so that they can afford the game that is coming out that month. I am so humbled by those people so profoundly I do not have the words to describe it.

I think that making games is about making something that you are passionate about. Making games is about something that you are willing to put your dream in a box or on a storefront and asking another person to like it; it is the essence of vulnerability. I never feel more empowered than when I am simultaneously vulnerable and empowered at the same time.

To that point, I do not feel empowered by Blackley’s Innovative Leisure studio. I feel that this studio was a great press release.

Creating a mobile game is nowhere near like creating a console or for that matter a console game. It is essentially creating a testosterone aura that is perhaps not deserved.

There are studios springing up all over the place right now; the one I am most interested in is Industrial Toys (Disclosure: I have no financial or emotional interest in their success or otherwise). I have however spoken to the guys and they seem to actually “get it”.

I have read — I think — all of Seamus’s interviews and I do not believe that he gets this new world order. I think he believes that he can trade on his name alone. From a business perspective, that is not an absurd theory. However, it is just a theory at this stage.

I really want Seamus and Co to succeed. I just do not think that they will.

  • Nathan

    Has Kevin Dent been involved with anything of note during his 13 year career?

    • Depends on your criteria. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn profile: http;//

      • Paul

        Looking at that linkedin it would appear that by anyone's definition he hasn't done much. Kevin Dent is like the Paris Hilton of games – always around for publicity but no one actually has any idea what he actually does.

      • Thanks! Great feedback! Infinity Blade seemed to do quite well, as did field runners and a bunch in between!

      • Paul

        So you want to go on the record and state exactly what you did on Infinity Blade and Field Runners? You aren't listed in the credits and there is no mention in your linkedin. Just curious and would like to see hear directly from you.

  • lceman

    When I first glanced at the title and read: "Kevin Dent says why… Seamus will fail", and then I thought to myself: "Kevin must be a huge Daniel Bryan fan."

    But then I read the article and found out it has nothing to do with wreslting. I would be interesting to see if Kevin would be willing to eat his words if Innovative Leisure really takes off. In the video game industry, nothing is a constant.


  • Absolutely I actually want them to succeed! I just think it is unlikely.

    • lceman

      So… uh… are you a Daniel Bryan fan or what?

      This way, we can say that "Kevin Dent thinks both Seamus and Sheamus will fail."

      By the way, I'm probably one of the very few gamers that read the entire amicus brief that you guys filed on behalf of the EMA. It was really great. I especially love the fact that Bioshock was included in there as an illustration of a serious form of media. For years, I've been raving about how deep that game is simply for it's take on the philosophy of Objectivism. It's a shame that it went over a lot of gamers’ heads. I'm actually a huge fan of Ayn Rand and Bioshock helped put things back into perspective for me. The game actually showed me that there is another side (a dark, ugly side) to the issue that I wasn't considering. For a game to open up my mind like that was just mind-blowing. I just couldn’t believe that Kevin Levine just bitch-slapped Ms. Rand like that. I would have loved to hear her rebuttal if she were still alive today.

      Anyway, I find it incredibly ironic that someone like the "guvernator" (who has played many roles in several violent films) would take up the mantle of "protector of the children from the evils fake violence.


  • Smartguy

    I'm conflicted on this editorial. I feel that there is information that is privy to the author and is used to say "they won't succeed" instead of any substantive examples. I think it goes without saying that any educated individual in any industry realizes that parallels aren't as parallel as they seem when switching segments in that industry.

    I really don't understand this piece.

    As far as the carriers go (i dislike them) I will throw in their defense than 10+ years ago making sure all of the devices that are subsidized work with the network was more important than games given the hardware and operating systems of yore.

    • N8R

      "The Operating Systems of Yore" is a good name for a band.

    • Honestly, I kind of felt the same way. It seems like this was more about the fact he thinks they'll fail then WHY he thinks they'll fail.

      • The why is that he believes mobile is a different beast than console or arcade games. Kevin doesn't think these guys understand the mobile space. That's definitely arguable. That said, Kevin and Seamus are both exponentially smarter than me, so I'm not going to argue with either of them. They could both beat me up too.

      • Smartguy

        I don't see how this deserved its own piece. Unless this guy thinks that the readers and those mentioned are too daft to know there are differences. Sounds more like animosity.

      • I get that that's the "Why," but that's a very thin argument. There's got to be more there then just "this is different than that." Sports cars are different than Minivans, but the same people and companies make both. These are smart people. If his argument is that "they can't adapt because it's different," I think he needs to offer up more of an explanation. Smart people adapt all the time.

  • It’s true: Names do not necessarily mean good games. And people are by and large buying the game for the game, not the people in the credits. There are exceptions, but few and far between, and don’t make up much of the gaming populace.

    Also, I wish the Industrial Toys website had some actual content, so I could see what Mr. Dent is so excited about.

  • Why does anybody in their right mind give this guy a platform on which to rant? Clearly all he does is think negatively. I remember back in October at the Austin Game Conference when we announced we signed a deal with Codemasters to bring Leisure Suit Larry to multi-platforms, this guy had the audacity to get in to a Hummer Limo I rented (I called it the Leisure Suit Larry Limo and put up these huge banners on the sides) to tell me that he "brokered" a deal between Codemasters and a company he called "Junk Games". He told me he called them Junk Games because all they produce is junk! I asked him why he would do such a thing and he told me it's all about the money. I then told him, well, my agreement says I get to publish the original Larry games and re-make all the originals as well. Then he told me that Junk Games was going to make all new Leisure Suit Larry games for mobile and they would most likely turn out to be "shite". So I checked with Codemasters and convinced them to cancel that deal. Then, when I saw him on Twitter he was bragging about his article on how Kickstarter campaigns were going to fail. He then proceeded to call me nasty names and threaten me by calling Apple and stopping Leisure Suit Larry from being distributed (which, I check with Apple…was false).

    Bottom line – this guy is not credited with anything "real" in terms of creating product. He lives on the bottom of the ocean and is what I call a "bottom feeder". If he has such a great reputation, why would he license a great brand like Leisure Suit Larry to a developer that he, himself, called Junk? This guy is a fake, a phoney, and I am calling him out as a flat out liar.

    • Paul

      But he is the reason Field Runners and Infinity Blade exist! He is a total fake.

  • mike.d

    Looks like Kevin Dent was right about this after all, doesn’t it. I saw at least one problem with their business model – “chief executive Van Burnham” Let’s see, all she did prior to this was to release a coffee table book of mostly arcade game photos, written by other people (she was basically the editor for it, but took full writing credit for it. She also arranged to sell an Atari game with the book, hired a company, Ebivision, to program it, and even ran a high score contest with a prototype copy, with the winner to receive the prototype. The contest was held at CGE in 2000 and a winner was chosen, except ‘ole Van didn’t give the winner, David Nelson, the cartridge. She promised to send him a finished copy, except.. she never released the game, and never paid Ebivision for programming it! She started shacking up with Blackley around this time, and disappeared from the classic gaming scene for several years. I feel sorry for guys like Alcorn , Logg, Koble, Adam, and Skelly, for wasting their time with this venture.

  • Social_Relevant

    Um who gives a rats’ ass what Kevin Dent says? Who is this clown and what has he ever done that’s of any value to the games business that gives him the podium to pontificate. This guy is an oxygen thief.

    • Kevin has been in the gaming industry for a long time. Many people respect his opinion and some don’t. If you fall into the latter category, that’s totally fine.