Gainesville video game maker stars on new mobile devices

A screen capture from the game Dungeon Defenders.

Courtesy of Trendy Entertainment
Published: Monday, January 10, 2011 at 1:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2011 at 1:33 p.m.

Gainesville video game developer Trendy Entertainment played a key role in demonstrating the gaming and graphics performance of new mobile devices unveiled at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Their game, Dungeon Defenders, was used to show off the console-quality gaming power of Verizon’s 4G LTE network, Motorola’s Xoom tablet and Nvidia’s Tegra 2 mobile processor.

Trendy was called upon through its relationship with Epic Games and that company’s Unreal Engine game engine, said CEO Augi Lye.

The annual electronics showcase comes just three weeks after the Gainesville company launched its first game, available by download, on Dec. 16.

Dungeon Defenders was featured on the front page of the iTunes store, Apple’s Facebook page and the iOS app Facebook page, and was the No. 1 selling gaming application for the first three days it was available for Android phones starting Dec. 24. It is available for $2.99 per download.

Lye said the game has been popular in Korea.

“They put up fan-based websites dedicated to our game, which is very flattering.”

Versions for the Xbox, PlayStation 3 and PC will launch within the next few months for $9.99 per download.

Lye said the company was hoping to make contacts at the conference for more deals. They are already working on their next game and will soon seek venture financing to go into financing and publishing games by other development teams.

The company has 15 employees in its Gainesville office and another 10 off site, and expects to add 10 to15 more employees in the next three months.

The ascension of the small upstart company is in contrast to the fate of Ignition Entertainment, a video game developer owned by UTV Group of India that shut down its Gainesville studio in November. Ignition also shut down its Los Angeles-area studio last week and moved operations from both offices to Austin, Texas, with some of the 70 Gainesville employees offered jobs there.

Company officials did not return calls for comment.

Some of Trendy’s founders were former directors at Ignition before spinning out to get away from the corporate environment, a move that now looks prescient. They include Trendy development director Jeremy Stieglitz, whose Artificial Studios was acquired by Ignition in 2007 to become the company’s Gainesville office.

Lye said Trendy’s business model of producing downloadable games is becoming the industry model. Ignition is also reorganizing around that model.

Retail games take two to four years to produce, costing $20 million to $30 million, plus another $20 million to $30 million to market, he said.

“You have to have a blockbuster hit to make your money back,” he said. “Downloadable games cost significantly less, development times are cut in half and, frankly, you cut out two or three middle men.”

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