Artillery, the startup that’s looking to bring Starcraft-quality strategy games to web browsers, just poached one of competitive gaming’s better-known personalities.
Sean “Day” Plott, who has built a following of several hundred thousand rabid gamers and Starcraft fans through shows and gaming commentary, is joining the startup in a game design role. He’ll be guiding the design of the Artillery’s flagship title, a real-time strategy browser-based game that should be out next year.
“We were using our technology to build a real-time strategy game and knew that Sean, one of the world’s authorities on competitive, multiplayer gaming, would ensure that that we were tuned in to the needs of our players,” said Artillery’s CEO Ankur Pansari. “After we worked with Sean for a few weeks, it became obvious that he was the right person to drive game design.”
Artillery’s team is made up of Google, Facebook and Zynga alums and has $2.5 million in venture backing from First Round Capital, Signia Venture Partners, Lowercase Capital, General Catalyst Partners and Andreessen Horowitz.
Pansari got connected to Plott through some of his Starcraft tournaments and began courting him at the beginning of this year.
Plott said, “He was telling me about this great idea — about bringing console-quality experiences to the browser — and I explained to him that it probably wouldn’t work because of issues with latency and other things. But he actually pulled out a working demo and I was like holy shit. So from there, I was excited.”
Indeed, HTML5 gaming has had more than its share of flameouts. Even Facebook shifted toward supporting native development for third-party apps after an initial run at an HTMl5-based platform fell short of expectations. Several other startups like Moblyng have shut down given the technical challenges of creating experiences that are on par with apps natively built for tablets or for other downloadable PC games.
Initially, Artillery was building out technology and a platform that it would have licensed out or offered in partnership with other game developers. But they shifted toward building first-party games after studying the history of many other companies in the field.
“We studied hundreds of gaming companies through history, and we focused our time on understanding modern examples that we really admire, like Valve and Riot,” Pansari said. “These companies, which created billions of dollars in value, all bootstrapped their platforms with really great first-party titles that are centered around communities.”