OpenFeint CoFounder Jason Citron’s Got $1.1 Million For Phoenix Guild – Bringing Console Gaming To Tablets
Video game developers working at Jason Citron’s startup, Phoenix Guild, will not have the title “Engineer” or “Developer” but each will instead be called “Craftsman.” With this kind of attention paid to the Phoenix Guild company culture, Citron hopes to make a mark on the mobile gaming industry, again.
Now 26, the developer and entrepreneur first made headlines in the gaming community when he cofounded and became CEO of OpenFeint, a ground breaking game studio and social gaming network for iOS and Android. OpenFeint’s social platform offerings connect gamers by providing them with the ability to see leader boards, add friends, and see what other games their friends are playing. Simply by adding lines of code to an app, developers are able to incorporate OpenFeint into their games.
As one of the first iOS app developers offering software in the Apple App Store when it began in 2008, Citron eventually decided to sell OpenFeint to Japanese social network GREE, the receipt showing $104 million. Remaining for five months under GREE ownership at OpenFeint, Citron decided that it was in fact time to wrap it up, take some off to do some traveling, and to think about his next step. It was September 2011.
To What End
A fan of traditional gaming by PCs and consoles, Citron is of the belief that the next revolution in gaming should happen on the tablet and especially that it should happen on the iPad. To this end, Phoenix Guild is in the process of building its A-list team in order to create deeper and more engaging games for the iPad as he feels that most of the games today on the device lack punch.
Citron notes, “There’s still a huge audience of gamers who still play on their PC and consoles. I think its because the games that appeal to these players haven’t really been made on mobile devices.” He goes on to point out: “I look at the market and I see iPhone causual and midcore are having millions and millions of dollars poured into them by GREE, DeNA, TinyCo and all those companies battling it out. The reason I’m picking tablets is because I don’t think most people realize yet that they’re a new platform. The way that you interact with an iPad is so fundamentally different than with an iPhone that it just begs for content that’s more long-form.”
With this in mind, Citron believes the market for the kinds of games his startup will build to be over 1 billion players.
“Post-PC devices are growing faster than any consumer electronics category in history and gaming is the killer app.” says Citron.
Where To Start and Where To Go
While still in the process of hiring and plans to release its first tablet game by the end of the year, Phoenix Guild has already raised $1.1 million from YouWeb, Accel Partners, and General Catalyst Partners. Citron’s aim is take advantage of the time devoted gamers are spending on tablets and show them that equally rich gaming experiences exist on the tablet. While he’s not entirely sure that he’ll able to make converts of the console and PC gamers, he’s surely committed to give it a go with Phoenix Guild.