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Ex- Zoo Tycoon  Devs Found Beach Cooler Games

Ex-Zoo Tycoon Devs Found Beach Cooler Games Exclusive

November 3, 2011 | By Kris Graft

This summer, word emerged that Blue Fang Games, known best for developing Microsoft's Zoo Tycoon franchise and Facebook games based on The Oregon Trail and Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego?, would be shutting down after 13 years.

But that's not the end of game-making for ex-Blue Fang CEO Hank Howie and former art director/lead designer Lou Catanzaro. Howie revealed to Gamasutra that he and Catanzaro have founded the new Boston-area mobile and social studio, Beach Cooler Games.

The pair is working with a number of contractors, including former Blue Fang contractors and employees, both inside and outside of the Boston area, and already have projects underway.

"We think we can make this work, and it should work pretty well, so we'll see if we can get it to work," said a cautiously optimistic Howie. "And again -- I'm knocking on wood here, as I often do -- so far it's working great. It's pretty eye-opening, I have to admit."

Blue Fang officially shut down in September after a partnership with The Learning Company fell through and Facebook games based on The Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? failed to gain immediate traction.

While Beach Cooler is in both the social and mobile spaces, Howie said the studio is currently concentrating primarily on mobile.

Howie didn't give specific details of Beach Cooler's initial projects, but said the studio isn't necessarily set on working on owned IP, even though he acknowledged that working on internal IP can offer a "tremendous advantage."

"[Working on original IP] is something that we would aspire to, but it's not the case with the projects we're working on right now," he said. "And I think the likely eventuality that I see for us is that we have a mix [of owned and licensed IP]. ... It's not a make or break for us."

As industry veterans, Howie said he and Catanzaro feel like they have an advantage in their ability to remain level-headed in the face of adversity and challenge. "The perspective, it helps us a lot in the projects we're doing right now," he said.

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