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Q&A: Why Jet Black Games' Freddi Digs The Wii, DS

Following the <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=13557">recent announcement</a> of Vancouver-based Wii and DS-focused development studio Jet Black Games, Gamasutra spoke with CEO Roger Freddi about the company's vision, plans,

Jason Dobson, Blogger

April 19, 2007

3 Min Read

Earlier this week, former EA Canada employees announced the establishment of a new video game development studio devoted to creating games based on original and licensed intellectual properties for the Nintendo DS and Wii. The new studio, Jet Black Games, is based in Vancouver, with employees having experience in five different Need for Speed titles, five different FIFA Soccer games and three separate James Bond titles. The studio has also strategically aligned itself with business management firm Flashman Studios, which specializes in representing developers, intellectual properties and game services companies in the video games industry. Jet Black is already working on DS title Purr Pals for Crave, as well as the Xbox 360 game engine port for the also Flashman-represented Acronym Games' XBLA title Rocketmen: Axis of Evil. Recently, Gamasutra was able to speak with Roger Freddi, the new company's co-founder and CEO, who commented that Jet Black marks just the latest move in his somewhat eclectic career. “I worked at Electronic Arts on three franchises, Need for Speed, Bond, and FIFA, from the late 1990’s until 2006,” he recalled. “In a previous life, I designed air traffic control system software for Hughes Aircraft, and prior to that embedded systems software for anti-submarine warfare and digital ballistic computers for tanks such as the M1A1.” But why form a new studio devoted specifically to the Wii and DS? As it turned out it was Nintendo's devotion to helping the little guy that garnered Freddi's attention. “I was motivated by Mr. Satoru Iwata’s keynote speech at GDC 2005. While referring to the Nintendo Revolution he said: “just like Nintendo DS, it’s a place where the best ideas – not the biggest budgets – will win.” Clearly, Nintendo was paving the way for smaller independent studios, like our own, to help revitalize the industry.” He continued: “With game team sizes at the time already easily exceeding 100 or even 200 people, it seemed like this might be the last opportunity to work in a smaller, more creative environment... given our company’s values and goals, it was natural that we align ourselves with Nintendo.” Freddi also noted: “It’s harder to focus on gameplay when you’re building engines and pipelines for four or more platforms, and the overhead associated with the larger studios focused on all platforms means that we’re able to build games for DS and Wii at a lower cost. Nintendo makes it easy for us as developers to engineer our core infrastructures so we can focus most of the hardware lifecycle on what’s most important – the actual gameplay.” But what is the company looking to do? Jet Black's boss explains: “Our goals at Jet Black Games are threefold. Develop our own original IP, help publishers bring their IP to market, and leverage the already popular IP represented by Flashman Studios.” Flashman's client page for IP holders reveals that the firm represents Classic Media (Rocky and Bullwinkle, VeggieTales, George Of The Jungle), as well as Mondo Media's Happy Tree Friends and White Wolf Publishing's Hunter: The Reckoning IP, alongside Wizkids' properties, from Mage Knight through Rocketmen. “We’re looking at several properties represented by Flashman that have multiplayer components that would be ideally suited to take advantage of the WiFi experience,” he added, noting that the studio is “currently in the final phases of negotiating a deal to bring a popular children and family entertainment license to the DS and Wii.” How many titles will Jet Black concentrate on? Freddi noted that that company has a total of three projects in the works, and that “everyone in the studio is most excited about bringing our ninja mascot to life.”

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