ProbablyMonsters Secures New HQ and Launches Third Video Game Studio

by Gordon Gottsegen
October 1, 2020
ProbablyMonsters Bellevue HQ
The new ProbablyMonsters HQ in Bellevue. | Photo: ProbablyMonsters

ProbablyMonsters gained some attention after launching from stealth mode last year. The company was led by several seasoned video game industry veterans, but they aimed to deliver something new.

Video game companies typically fall into two categories: there are video game studios, which design and develop the games, and video game publishers, which are in charge of marketing and selling the game. ProbablyMonsters wanted to do things a little differently. It wanted to create a video game publisher under the ProbablyMonsters brand, and then spin out individual game studios to work on specific projects. This approach used vertical integration to give the game developers the ability to get creative and focus on their work, while the ProbablyMonsters brand could make sure these games were well-received by players.

And it seems like that strategy is working.

This week, ProbablyMonsters is announcing that it’s launching its third video game studio, as well as revealing some pretty impressive growth stats.

The third video game studio, which is still unnamed, will join ProbablyMonsters’ Cauldron Studios and Firewalk Studios. It will begin by working on a next-gen co-op RPG game as its first project, which will be announced at some point in the future. The new studio will be led by Allen Fong, John Dunbar, Marsh Lefler and Patrick Blank, who have all previously worked on successful RPG games.

Leaders of ProbablyMonster's third studio
Leaders of the new studio. | Photo: ProbablyMonsters

In addition, ProbablyMonsters also announced that it secured a brand new headquarters. This new HQ is in Bellevue, which is just a few miles away from its previous home in Issaquah. The 76,000-square-foot office will have plenty of space for the ProbablyMonsters team, which it will probably need. The company has grown its employee headcount 50 percent this year, despite the economic turmoil that 2020 has caused for many companies. ProbablyMonsters currently has over 150 employees and it’s continuing to hire aggressively, with dozens of roles open across all of its studios.

Although the company’s employees are still working remotely right now, this new HQ will give the company a home base as it continues to expand and spin out new game studios.

With all of this growth, ProbablyMonsters still wants to preserve its values of employee creativity and managing work-life balance. The company’s CEO and founder Harold Ryan stresses the importance of these things when it comes to the video game industry, which has a bad reputation for pushing employees to their limits. Ryan was previously the CEO and president of well known video game studio Bungie, which was responsible for the Halo and Destiny franchises.

Built In recently spoke to Ryan about building the ProbablyMonsters brand, and what this growth has meant for the company.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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CEO Harold Ryan in front of ProbablyMonster's new HQ
ProbablyMonsters CEO Harold Ryan in front of the new HQ. | Photo: ProbablyMonsters

What goes into building a team across multiple video game studios? Are there any specifics that the company looks for?

To build a new game studio, we start by building a team around a game director with a vision for a game that the team is passionate about and that also has a valid business case. So everything starts with the blueprint of a great idea that we build a team and a plan around. This is in line with our mission to unite, guide and empower talented teams to create exceptional player experiences.

To date, we’ve built three strong studios and each one is developing an original game in its own genre. Our first two studios each have an original, funded AAA game project that’s been signed with a respective major game publisher — Firewalk Studios is making an original AAA multiplayer game and Cauldron Studios is making an original AAA narrative game. Now we’re announcing our third, as yet unnamed, studio, formed by Torchlight and Borderlands creative leads to make a next-gen co-op RPG.

To answer your question about aligning talent with a specific studio, we typically list jobs for each studio separately, so people have an idea where they want to go from the beginning. There have been times when people have applied at multiple ProbablyMonsters studios because they’re interested in more than one game we’re developing and that’s given several team members the opportunity to pick the studio they joined.

What goes into building a team across multiple video game studios? Are there any specifics that the company looks for?

To date, ProbablyMonsters has demonstrated sustainable and planned growth as we’ve grown to over 150 top AAA talent from 60 different leading game, entertainment and tech companies. We don’t disclose the numbers by studio, but a majority of our employees work in our family of studios. The rest work in our platform team that handles everything from finance to IT to QA, freeing our family of studios to focus on making great games in a great environment.

In 2020 alone, we’ve grown by over 50 percent during the pandemic, which is a testament to both our hiring team and the positive word of mouth in the development community. They’re recognizing the appeal of creating exceptional games while enjoying a healthy career in a stable environment that puts people first.

Going forward we plan to continue managing healthy growth, and I wouldn’t be surprised if our growth continued on pace. We hire to fit the needs of our projects with a strategy of building a family of sustainable game studios. This gives us efficiency with a business platform team that can scale to support each studio while allowing each studio to stay at a size where everyone knows each other, forming a strong team that can work closely together on a project they’re passionate about.

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