Update: I wrote this post while in quarantine, dreaming about how more inclusive games can help us build empathy and deeper social bonds. This was weeks before we saw the murder of George Floyd — a disgusting act of violence, and just one example of systemic racism towards Black communities. Our small team at Treehouse is deeply saddened, and stands against racism and injustice in all forms. Many of us have donated to organizations fighting for racial equality and we hope you’ll consider doing the same.
This is a wild time to be announcing a new game studio, as the world is fighting a global pandemic and so many of us are dealing with the challenges and uncertainty that come with our new “normal.” But as a game developer, I can’t help but feel some pride about the impact games are having for people quarantined at home. All across the world, we are witnessing the power that games have to connect people to their loved ones, to help friends share laughs and adventures together, whether they are across town or hundreds of miles apart.
For my co-founder, Ryan Sullivan, and I, this is what games have always been about — quality time spent with our friends. Today, we’re excited to announce Treehouse Games, dedicated to creating games that are the best way for friends to spend time together.
Ryan and I first teamed up almost a decade ago, as leads of a student game project that helped us break into the games industry. Now, Ryan is a veteran from multiple indie startups and co-founded Sirvo Studios in 2016. I’ve been a product lead at Riot Games for the last 7 years, working all across League of Legends. And at Treehouse, we’ve assembled an incredible group of experienced game developers from both sides of the industry — one half of the team comes from gaming powerhouses, including Microsoft, Riot Games and the original DotA mod, and the other half comes from successful startups like Sirvo and Industrial Toys. Together, we are creating meaningful collaborative play that serves a growing, global audience of players who use games as their favorite way to hang out.
We are creating meaningful collaborative play that serves a growing, global audience of players who use games as their favorite way to hang out.
This audience is massive and still growing fast. There are millions of players who don’t think of themselves as “gamers” but use games every day to interact with friends. For them, games are simply a wonderful way to socialize — just as fun as going out to dinner or meeting up for coffee.
But the multiplayer landscape has always been dominated by hardcore, competitive experiences. While serving hardcore gamers, big PvP titles still draw in huge numbers of this social audience. This group wants to spend time with their friends so badly that they play in spite of the game’s design. They’ll suffer through inaccessibility, toxic behavior, and fear of letting the team down in the hopes of spending quality time with friends. To make things worse, co-op games that focus directly on this audience’s needs rarely get the spotlight while PvP games get all the love and new innovations every year.
This extreme focus on competition is such a missed opportunity because it reflects just a tiny part of how people spend time together. When we hang out with friends in real-life, are we constantly trying to win an argument? Always competing with each other? Hopefully not. When we think about our best times with friends, we think of laughter, adventures, and warm memories. This is where Treehouse comes in.
We’re constantly looking at great real-life experiences for inspiration. We want our games to evoke the camaraderie of a road trip, allow generosity among friends, and celebrate lasting accomplishments.
We’re constantly looking at great real-life experiences for inspiration. We want our games to evoke the camaraderie of a road trip, allow generosity among friends, and celebrate lasting accomplishments. These social players deserve innovative games made just for them. We see tremendous opportunity for cooperative games to enrich our interactions with others and deepen our friendships.
We’ve been very fortunate to find exceptional partners who share our vision for the future of games. LVP is leading our seed round with Are Mack Growen joining our board. We were excited to partner with them from the start — on top of LVP’s incredible track record, founders they have supported have been nothing but glowing about their experiences working with them. And they’ve more than lived up to their reputation. We were instantly struck by their profound insight into the industry, authentic empathy as entrepreneurs themselves, and excitement for deeply social games. We couldn’t be luckier to have their support!
We’re also thrilled to have two more amazing partners to recognize. Shanti Bergel has a storied history in the industry as an expert operator and investor, and we’re excited to be part of the newly-announced and rapidly growing Transcend Fund. Lastly, Kristian Segerstrale has joined as our advisor and investor, and we love the unique perspective he’s brought as an innovative leader in his own game studios.
We’re heading to a world where players build better friendships through games. If you want to learn more about our journey, or join in making this vision a reality, you can follow us on Twitter and check out our open positions on our site.
Thank you for your support as we build this treehouse together. Let’s get started!