There was a time when Vicarious Visions was considered the only serious game (studio) in town. Formed by the Bala brothers in the early ’90s, the studio was responsible for a slew of popular handheld games and IPs. In 2005, game industry behemoth Activision purchased the studio, lending the area an even stronger connection to the mainstream video games industry. Things have moved quickly since then.
With more talent based in the region studios proliferated and won the interest of the industry at large. Saratoga studio MadGlory was recently purchased by the owners of PUBG, a $1 billion online shooter franchise. The studio has grown 30% since being acquired in March 2018. Troy-based Agora Games started its life providing online features and web-based communities around video games. They recently were acquired by Warner Bros. and now work on properties like Mortal Kombat, Lord of the Rings, DC and Mad Max.
What does an industry driven by programming and tech have to do with the arts? Game studios are also powered by writers, designers, artists and musicians who bring a game’s story, atmosphere and aesthetics to life. Prominent local artists including Arzu Fallahi and Jess Fink came to the area because of industry opportunities.
Perhaps most intriguing is the top-secret work of Velan Studios, the new Bala brothers’ project. Since forming in 2016, the studio has kept its work very quiet, but in March they announced a publishing agreement with industry behemoth Electronic Arts and promised to hire 40 new staffers by the end of the year.