Augmented reality startup CastAR is opening a new mixed reality studio in Salt Lake City today, with talent recruited from the former developers of Disney’s Infinity toy-game franchise.
Disney closed its Avalanche Studios division in Salt Lake City in May after it decided to end its Disney Infinity toys-to-life products because of slumping sales. But Palo Alto, Calif.-based CastAR saw that as an opportunity and it has hired a number of the developers who previously worked on Infinity.
That will more than double the size of the CastAR development team, but it’s not clear yet exactly how many people CastAR is hiring. That’s the first big move since CastAR recruited former LucasArts chief Darrell Rodriguez as CEO and former Disney executive Steve Parkis as president and chief operating officer last month.
Overall, CastAR now employs more than 70 people. At its peak, Avalanche Software was about 240 people under Disney. So that leaves a lot of talented people still on the market in Salt Lake City.
CastAR was born as Technical Illusions in the greater Seattle area. It was started as a research project by Valve technologists Ellsworth and Johnson to build augmented reality glasses, which can overlay animations and other imagery on top of the real world.
“Our new CastAR SLC team has creatively-inspired talent that has delivered at the highest levels of quality. We’re excited to have them join us in creating a new generation of gaming through mixed reality experiences,” said Parkis, in a statement. “With their experience in bringing massive franchises to life through breakthrough interactive design, the addition of this team is our next bold step in launching a dynamic platform that will bring awe-inspiring mixed reality to households.”
Disney’s former Avalanche team specialized in merging the physical world with the digital. And that’s what CastAR wants to do with its augmented reality product, which will have tabletop games and other kinds of mixed reality entertainment.