‘Our business has experienced strong growth,’ says company founder and CEO Andrew Leker
SAN RAFAEL — After nearly six years at 950 Northgate Drive, Electrified Games, Inc., maker of award-winning digital online role-playing and strategy games, is expanding to 10,130 square feet of top-class office space at 100 Smith Ranch Road, in the Regency Center Office Complex.
“Currently, we barely have enough room for our 34 employees and their workstations, but we also need open areas and conference rooms,” said Andrew Leker, CEO. He founded the company in 1994 and has been designing and creating games for more than 20 years.
“Our business has experienced strong growth of 20 percent since 2009, so it was time to consider larger quarters,” he said.
This growth was due in part to landing a contract for a Pokémon trading card game. This new product will be released soon and Mr. Leker believes it will meet with widespread market acceptance.
He is optimistic about the online gaming sector as it embraces the iPod, iPad and iPhone form factor, especially for Trading Card Games like Pokémon. This medium is moving quickly into the exploding mobile handheld arena to create new markets based on innovative, cross platform technology.
According to Mr. Leker, designing mobile games is a different experience with a touch interface, not a controller, and with a less cluttered screen. He believes that game developers have to study how to enhance the user experience as he or she engages the mobile device.
“There is also a rise in the ‘freemium’ trend where people play as much as they want free of charge, but if they want to move ahead faster or get a premium item, they have to pay,” he said.
He sees a demographic expansion of both younger and older groups getting into online gaming.
“I believe that in the next five years the mobile world a major platform for social games due in part to the popularity of the Apple iOS mobile operating system and the fact that your computing device can be with you at all times, not just at home or in the office.”
The user interface of iOS is based on the concept of direct manipulation using multi-touch gestures. Interaction with the OS includes gestures such as swipe, tap, pinch, and reverse pinch.
Mr. Leker predicts that within four years having up to 10 terabytes of storage capacity will be common on a user’s hard disk drive to accommodate gaming, streaming video and downloadable movies.
“Much has changed in the gaming world since I first starting writing science fiction fantasy role playing games at age 11. Advances in digital processes, computer graphics (CG), animation and other techno- innovations continue to enrich the category and user experience, enabling us draw larger audiences with simpler, more relatable experiences, Mr. Leker said.
For example, at a recent Game Developers Conference, early versions of a 3-D Star Trek holodeck-style environment were demonstrated on a flat plane where a change in walking direction changes the visual scene, or by wearing special 3-D goggles in a giant hamster ball users can experience 360-degree views as they move around.
He says the gaming industry’s ongoing annual growth is helping the economy, especially in the Bay Area, with companies like Electronic Arts, Zynga, and CrowdStar creating great games and great jobs.
For nearly two decades Electrified Games has been a leader in developing award-winning games like Alien Logic, based upon Mr. Leker’s SkyRealms of Jorune, developed when he was a student at UC, Berkeley, as well as Oasis and Resurrection.
The company’s team also contributed to the technology for Thief and System Shock, along with Ooga Booga, a multiplayer title for the Dreamcast console.
Electrified Games won the Electronic Entertainment Expo “PC role playing game of the year” for Alien Logic; an Independent Game Festival award for “best game design” for Resurrection and three awards for Oasis -- “innovation in game design,” the prestigious Seumas McNally award for “independent game of the year,” and Game Tunnel’s “strategy game of the year award.”
The company has developed games and online technologies for the industry’s leading publishers, including The Pokémon Company International, Sony Online Entertainment, Disney, Tapulous, Wizards of the Coast and Electronic Arts.
Trevor Buck of Cassidy Turley BT Commercial represented the property owner in the June 14 lease, and Whitney Strotz also of Cassidy Turley BT represented the company.
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