Xbox Co-Creator Turns To iPhone For New Gaming Experiences


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Seamus Blackley, the co-creator of the Xbox, is launching a new start up called Innovative Leisure. The company is a collaboration of classic Atari designers from ages past making new games for the iPhone and iPad.

Blackley, with his partner Van Burnham, aim to create a new company whose focus is to use the talent from the “golden age” of Atari to create a modern arcade for iOS.

Speaking to VentureBeat, Blackley laid out his idea on what he calls the “new arcade.” He believes that 99 cents is the new quarter on iOS.

The dream team of Atari creators include Ed Rotberg, creator of Battlezone; Owen Rubin, creator of Major Havoc and Space Duel; Rich Adam, creator of Gravitar and co-developer of Missile Command; Ed Logg, co-creator of Asteroids and Centipede; Dennis Koble, creator of Touch Me and Shooting Gallery; Tim Skelly, creator of Rip-Off; and Bruce Merrit, creator of Black Widow.

The team at Innovative Leisure is comprise of the aforementioned 11 arcade game creators alongside interns in their 20s who will help create the apps. To finance the company, Blackley is investing his own money into the project alongside the help of THQ.

The team will present on their new project next week at the DICE Summit.

Burnham and Blackley met the Atari men while Burnham was writing “Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age 1971-1984.”

During that same time, they began building their own arcade called Supercade in a Los Angeles warehouse. It features machines that Blackley has repaired and refurbished himself. When Blackley left his previous job last summer, Supercade fit in with his future plans.

“We had that big collection of games, and we love the history of game design,” Blackley said. “I’m lucky because I love games and following that love has always done me well. Once we figured out the iPhone is the new arcade, that games from the old days fit this new audience and their on-the-go lifestyle, we knew what to do. There is already a group of people who know how to operate and innovate in this space. They had the longest string of hit games in history. And they wanted to get back together again.”

The Atari men all came back together under one roof because they felt that their times at Atari were the most rewarding. The interns are likewise excited to be working with the “inventors of gameplay.”

The team came up with 30 ideas initially. These ideas were brought down to 10 games and were presented to THQ. The publisher wanted all of them. Seven of those titles are in the works now.

Blackley believes in making original games, instead of the current iOS market which is full of copycats and derivatives.

The team works in the arcade warehouse so they can be constantly inspired by the games that came before them. They all work in separate teams, but they critique each other’s work as progress is made.

Blackley says that the games will start coming out this summer on the iPhone and iPad. They will market the games themselves with a bit of help from THQ. He believes that the games will take off though because of their “awesome gameplay.”

“They’re all playable and awesome,” he said. “More ideas are coming up from the old guys and the new guys. We want to have a string of really innovative games.”