Taking a cue from a model that has proven successful in the non-game world of tech startups, North Carolina-based Joystick Labs has announced its new incubation program to provide seed funding and office space for independent video game development firms targeting digital distribution.
"Joystick Labs represents a new opportunity in game development that is in tune with the changes we see in the industry," said co-founder Juan Benito in a statement. "We will reduce the barriers to entry to a point where there is nothing holding back a team of talented developers from launching their own studio."
Joystick Labs will provide up to $18,000 in funding for companies that successfully apply to its 12-week "accelerator program" in Durham, North Carolina, and intends to immerse those companies in an environment that will stimulate creativity, productivity, and growth.
For the three-month duration of each program, the first of which begins this fall, Joystick says it will provide networking opportunities and "operational support" from experienced game industry figures, as well as a variety of educational sessions and lectures.
Epic Games, one of North Carolina's most prominent developers, said it "hope[s] to support Joystick Labs' incubation projects with our Unreal Engine technology."
In return for the funding and infrastructure, Joystick will receive a "modest equity stake" in each company, and an unspecified share of profits on the game kick-started by the acceleration program. Developers will retain the rights to the intellectual property they create, however. Prospective developers can apply for the Fall 2010 term through Joystick Labs' official site
The company was founded by Benito, a longtime game developer best known for co-founding Tom Clancy's
series developer Red Storm Entertainment; Hutchison Law Group venture attorneys Glen Caplan and Justyn Kasierski; and tech industry veteran Lawrence Steffann.