HBO has spun Neon Media from HBO’s Interactive and Immersive Group in Seattle. Neon Media will focus on narrative-driven interactive media including games. The Neon Media team headed by CEO Mark Long won an Emmy for the Westworld virtual reality experience.
“We left HBO to chase our transmedia ambitions in games, comics, movies, and series,” said Long, in an email to GamesBeat. “Like the rest of the interactive team at HBO, I joined because I was excited by the idea what a sophisticated, narrative-driven game could be.” We’ve stuck out on our own to realize the full potential of that idea.”
The company’s focus is narrative-driven interactive, but Long said the team sees the distribution of all media shifting to direct to consumer streaming platforms. At the same time, virtual productions like The Mandalorian are beginning to use the Unreal Engine for real-time special effects.
“We believe this convergence requires a new kind of production company,” Long said. “One that understands both game streaming production and to how to design real-time assets that are shared by both interactive and linear productions. As games shift to streaming, distribution will shift to streaming platforms. It’s only a matter of time before you’re playing games on Netflix. And only a little longer before the game and the series SFX were both created with Unreal.”
Neon’s founders include Long, former head of xCloud at Microsoft; chief operating officer Aaron Nonis, former vice president of HBO Now at WarnerMedia; chief technology officer Don Norbury, former engineering lead on Star Wars, Bioshock, Crackdown, and Madden; and Mark Yeend, former head of R&D at HBO Max R&D. The company has seven employees.
I met Long years ago when he was creating the Hawken mech combat game at Meteor Entertainment.