The studio behind Travel and Sky: Children of the Light, this game companyhaving a hectic week. VentureBeat reports that the team has raised over $160 million in funding. Investors like TPG and Sequoia have played a huge role in raising funds. It was also announced that Pixar co-founder Edwin Catmull would join thatgamecompany as “senior advisor on creative culture and strategic growth”. It might be a mouthful of a title, but the pair are certainly full of funded ambition for the future.
Ed Catmull has over twenty years under his belt at Disney Pixar and Walt Disney Animation. According to Inside the magic, his career began with George Lucas at LucasFilm as vice president of the computer graphics division. From there, Pixar was created after Steve Jobs bought the division in 1986. The ACM AM Turing Award Winner (often called the “Nobel Prize for Computing”) would continue to be a framework for acclaimed movies like toy story (1995), Ratatouille (2007), At the top (2009), The Incredibles (2004), WALL-E (2008), Upside down (2015), and Moana (2016) to name a few.
Catmull had this to say about their new partnership: “Thatgamecompany is a driving force in advancing the deeper emotional impact of games.” “I am honored that Jenova and the studio have asked me to share my insights into building a sustainable creative culture worthy of its ambition to provide meaningful and accessible interactive experiences to a global audience.”
In order to reach this global audience, Jenova Chen, CEO and co-founder of this game company, will make good use of recent investments. These investments came from TPG’s Tech Adjacencies fund and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. A TPG Managing Director said they were “proud to have the opportunity to partner with a visionary leader like Jenova to support the next stage of growth for this games company.” This next step is to grow the California studio from its staff of around 100 to more than 150 developers. The current staffing level is just sufficient to maintain Sky operational, but with extra hands on deck, Chen says,
With a bit of luck, Sky and our future games will all be, you know, kind of part of theme parks in the future, like in a connected metaverse.
Sky: Children of Light is “an unforgettable social adventure [taken] with his relatives. It was originally released for iOS in 2019 and saw a later release for Android and Nintendo Switch in 2020 and 2021 respectively. It was thatgamecompany’s first game made for mobile after creating three console games for PlayStation that were to flow, Flowerand Travel. Each game was an attempt to “nurture human connection through play”, something Chen plans to continue working towards in the future.
When asked about his future theme parks, Chen explained, “I really feel like there’s not the equivalent of some sort of Disneyland experience or Pixar movie experience in game industry, even today… I haven’t really played a game with my wife from start to finish. I haven’t really found a good game to do that with. Not to mention that I I have children now. How do we have this experience? It’s kind of my aspiration. Sky is certainly an attempt but we want to do better to do this kind of experiments. Beyond creating an experience equivalent to that of animation giants, Jenova Chen has an even greater ambition.
Although video games outsell the film industry and are recognized by museums, “people don’t respect games,” says Chen. To overcome this, Chen believes there needs to be more emotional content in games. He went on to say, “We have adult games, we have kids games, we have men’s games, and we have women’s games. But we don’t have a game that could touch them all. And I think that’s the last missing piece. Once the final unifying piece comes into play, then maybe Jenova will fulfill her dream of,
See video games take over from movies and become the greatest art of entertainment.