Social gaming company RockYou announced a deal to fund and publish the first project from Loot Drop, a new studio from industry veterans John Romero, Robert Sirotek, and Tom Hall.
After working with LOLapps, another social game firm, to design and release Ravenwood Fair, John Romero helped set up Loot Drop in San Mateo. The Id Software co-founder and Wolfenstein 3D/Doom/Quake designer has formed a number of game start-ups in the past, including Ion Storm and Gazillion Entertainment.
Veteran entrepreneur Sirotek, the co-founder of Sir-Tech Software (Wizardry, Jagged Alliance series), takes on the role of chief executive at Loot Drop. Hall, who previously partnered with Romero and others to establish companies like Id Software and Ion Storm, serves as the studio head and game designer.
RockYou said this deal signals its commitment to invest in creative talent, as well as its ability to enable independent developers to "reach a broad audience with its publishing and distribution expertise". The company currently reaches over 200 monthly visitors with its social games and applications.
In the past several months, RockYou has made significant moves means to shift its focus more to social games, such as laying off employees working in non-game divisions, acquiring 3D social game engine developer TirNua, and last week purchasing British studio Playdemic (Gourmet Ranch).
When asked why it chose to partner with Loot Drop instead of buying the new developer out right, RockYou's Games SVP Jonathan Knight explained to Gamasutra, "Loot Drop has a strong team of experienced game design veterans, and we believe this partnership is the best way for us to support their creative freedom. We trust their overall vision as developers, and look forward to collaborating with them as they operate independently. "
Knight continued, "We don’t necessarily lean more toward one strategy or the other. We’re open to any opportunities that will grow RockYou’s business while aligning with our goal to deliver quality social games. We believe that by partnering with the best talent, we can deliver a strong catalog of games and a quality experience for our users."
Loot Drop hasn't announced any details about its project for RockYou, but Romero expressed his excitement over continuing to work in the social space: "The development cycle for social games is much shorter than traditional games. You can respond to user feedback and make changes more effectively, which is great as a developer because that means you can be more in touch and interactive with your audience."
"The social space is where the excitement and the players are at, hundreds of millions of them, and I'm excited to make another game on the platform," added Romero. "RockYou's support will drive Loot Drop's first project forward. I believe social games have an incredible future, and we've barely explored their potential."
Though RockYou did not disclose financial terms for the agreement, it noted that it will retain final rights on Loot Drop's game.