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Ratchet & Clank creator Insomniac Games goes social with Insomniac Click

Insomniac Games, the architect of such enduringly popular video game franchises as Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank and Resistance, is branching out in a new direction with the formation of its Burbank, Calif.-based Insomniac Click division. The news got an official announcement from the studio’s marketing director Ryan Schneider at a South By Southwest Interactive panel, with chief creative officer Brian Hastings providing a more detailed explanation on the Insomniac blog.

The focus of Click’s work will be on creating mobile and web-based games. There is no announcement about the game or games that are currently in development, but Hastings lays out the studio’s “Contract with the Audience” in his lengthy explanation for the move which basically drives home the studio’s commitment to bringing its trademark “deep worlds, rich stories [and] accessible gameplay” into a new gaming space. To that end, Click is made up entirely of new hires who bring past experience with mobile and social platforms with them.

Hastings writes at the outset that while this new division is something the Insomniac brass is “passionate” about, it is also “a pragmatic necessity.” The industry has changed a great deal in the past five or six years, as social networking, mobile technology and even Nintendo’s Wii and DS platforms have ushered in a new audience, people who want simpler games that can be picked up and played. Popular releases like Call of Duty and Dragon Age are vastly more expensive to produce even though they are ultimately consumed by a comparatively smaller audience.

“As a result, the games with the highest production values are simply impossible to play for the vast majority of people in the world,” Hastings explains. Success on the social and mobile gaming fronts, which is much more about creating an accessible experience than a more expensive spectacle-driven one, could help fund the more focused core audiences releases in the long run. It could also have the added effect of selling the so-called casual gamers on those deeper experiences; there is plenty of potential mass appeal in a franchise like Ratchet & Clank, for example, and introducing those characters to a more widely used gaming platform could be just the boost they need to reach the mainstream.

Mobile growth continues to be an interesting crossroads for the gaming industry (among others). We’ve quickly learned that less is more where wider audiences are concerned, and that you don’t necessarily have to spend multiple years in development building a cutting edge interactive experience to move significant amounts of product. As much as it has been focused in the past on console games, Insomniac clearly recognizes this with the formation of Click.