Plants Vs. Zombies, Diablo III devs’ new studio acquired by Valve

Diablo 3

Most independent studios need to finish and release a successful game before they become an acquisition target, but not every studio has the pedigree that Star Filled Studios has. That’s likely why the company was snapped up by Half-Life creator and Steam overlord Valve well before the studio had even finished a project.

Star Filled Studios co-founder Tod Semple revealed that the studio had been purchased by Valve like so many professionals do these days: By updating his LinkedIn profile. “My recent startup was acquired by Valve and we are opening a new office on the San Francisco peninsula,” wrote Semple.

Semple indicated in September that he and Jeff Gates, his partner at Star Filled Studios, were meeting with Gabe Newell at the headquarters of his growing empire. “Jeff and I are flying up to Seattle today,” wrote Semple on his blog, “We are going to go visit Valve and check out all the cool stuff they are working on and see if there are any business opportunities. I’m pretty excited about this trip!” It turned out the opportunities available were more substantive than he expected.

Both Semple and Gates have impressive track records in the video game industry. Gates was one of the people responsible for starting up Paypal back at the turn of the century. He also created the unicellular introductory mode in Maxis’ divisive Spore, worked on Diablo III during its prolonged production at Blizzard, and was one of the minds behind PopCap’s Plants Vs. Zombies.

Semple worked alongside Gates on Diablo III during the middle of last decade. After working on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed at LucasArts, he reunited with Gates, working as the programmer on Plants Vs. Zombies.

The enormous success of Plants Vs. Zombies is no doubt the source of Valve’s interest in the duo. Their game helped PopCap Games’ revenue break $100 million for the first time back in 2010, which in turn made that studio an acquisition target for Electronic Arts. EA paid a reported $1.3 billion for the company in 2011, and Semple stayed at EA through the transition before founding Star Filled Studios in September.

Prior to the Valve buyout, Semple and Gates were looking to hire an artist for their studio. Now they will be able to avail themselves of one of gaming’s most creatively potent talent pools around. It will be very interesting to see what they produce.

Soure: GamesIndustry International