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.