Moving at the only pace they know how, three local game studios have just done something monumental, seemingly over night.
You’ve probably read our past coverage of local game studio, Cipher Prime. They make absurdly challenging and awesome puzzle games, have won a number of awards and are based right here in Old City, Philadelphia. Notably, their office was directly across the hall from our other friends, Drink Philly.
I say their office was directly across the hall from Drink Philly HQ because as of this week these entrepreneurs established The Philly Game Forge by literally knocking down walls and creating something bigger and better. Essentially a coworking space for game developers, The Philly Game Forge brings local independent game studios together in one new venture.
Why the move? “Collaboration. Community. Love. Making a game is a hard, terrifying and lonely road. We don’t just want each other, in a way, we need each other,” says Will Stallwood, co-founder of Cipher Prime.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for a while,” explains Stallwood. A while, as it seems, has been the past four years. Inspired in part by the success of Indy Hall and its leader Alex Hillman, Stallwood feels that there are enough successful game developers to make it happen.
Flyclops, one of two studios joining the Forge even has deep-rooted origins to Indy Hall; you may recognize their super addictive iOS game Domino! The other big studio to round out the trifecta is Final Form Games, best known for their 2011, vertical-scrolling-shoot ’em up hit game, Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony.
There will also be a few other smaller teams coming in after the Forge’s opening. “We’ll be opening up spots for solo game developers. If you’re a game developer in Philadelphia, we want you here,” Stallwood says. “Cipher Prime has always been focused on helping the Philadelphia creative community. Philly Game Forge is no different. The space allows other studios to really step up. We’re stronger in numbers and I’m hoping this is just the first in some really big steps for gaming in Philly.”
We hope so too. Stallwood mentions that five years ago when they first created Cipher Prime, there were only aware of one other active independent studio. The interest today is certainly greater. Just look to their 20-40 person strong “Thursday Dev Nights” as evidence of increased opportunity in the game-dev space.
Chris Grant of Polygon.com shared a simple fact with us not too long ago: Philadelphia is the only major city in North America without a triple-A game studio nearby. It was interesting, yet not surprising. Based on the current level of motivation, enthusiasm and creativity behind what’s currently going on in our indie game dev community maybe that fact will soon change. Maybe it won’t have to. (Veteran game developers like Grimm Bros. have left San Francisco to come here.)