MWM Immersive, the interactive entertainment division of media and entertainment company MWM, is moving into video game publishing and rebranding itself as MWM Interactive. The division will publish Creature in the Well (a blend of hack-‘n’-slash games and pinball) from Flight School Studios.
In some ways, this move is predictable, as many virtual reality companies are pivoting back to more traditional games because VR isn’t as popular as everyone hoped it would be. But MWM Interactive executive vice president of content Ethan Stearns said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company would continue to do VR content and expand into video games at the same time. Other companies like Playful have announced similar strategies.
Stearns will continue to oversee the creative vision and strategy for Los Angeles-based MWMi’s upcoming slate. Co-lead of the division Alyssa Padia Walles has joined as senior vice president of publishing, and she will oversee distribution and marketing, bringing more than two decades of experience in the video game industry to the team.
“I like to think of it as expanding,” Stearns said. “We just signed another VR title. We are still focused on VR. But as a company focused on empowering storytellers and being able to make media content across any type of platform, we realized that it was limiting for us to only be making interactive content for virtual reality platforms. We have the opportunity to make a lot of different types of content and reach more a larger audience of people.”
Known for creating groundbreaking immersive virtual reality experiences Chained: A Victorian Nightmare and War Remains as well as co-producing Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son with Sony Pictures Entertainment, MWMi will continue to produce and publish innovative VR content while also expanding into premium narrative and artistic games for PC and console platforms.
The first game published by MWMi will be Creature in the Well, from Flight School Studios. The game is a top-down, pinball-inspired hack-‘n’-slash dungeon crawler launching September 6 on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
“In a relatively short amount of time, the team at MWMi has set the bar with genre-defining, boundary-pushing projects like Chained: A Victorian Nightmare and Dan Carlin’s War Remains,” said MWM president and cofounder Clint Kisker in a statement. “MWMi’s expansion into the publishing space allows this incredibly talented group to empower storytellers across a broader range of interactive media and expands MWM’s ability to deliver deeply engaging story-driven experiences to fans worldwide.”
“This is the first project that we are publishing, but it’s the first in a multi-project relationship that we’ve built with Flight School,” Stearns said. “We think they are a really great partner for us, as we’re kind of taking these new steps into becoming a publisher. So we’re looking forward down the road to doing more projects with them into the future.”
MWM is a diversified media and entertainment company cofounded in 2015 by award-winning producer Gigi Pritzker and Kisker. MWM enables creators to cross-pollinate content between film, television, live events, digital video, AR/VR, and video games in order to grow brands in a more enriching, entertaining and engaging way.
“We found a like-minded creative partner in MWM,” said co-founder and CEO Kyle Clark, Flight School Studio. “Both companies strongly believe in creating an environment that supports creators and their visions. Our new publishing relationship will extend the reach of ‘Creature in the Well’ beyond launch, as we look to expand the game’s universe into additional storytelling platforms, regions and creative spaces.”
Flight School Studio was founded in 2017 by award-winning creatives to tell stories in emerging technology including VR, AR, games and immersive entertainment. Their previous releases include Manifest 99 and Island Time VR.
Stearns said his division has six people and it is expanding in marketing and publishing roles. Most of the focus will be on original titles.
“By next year, I think we’ll have a steady stream of content coming out,” he said.