LOS ANGELES, April 12, 2023 - Game industry veterans Richard Garfield, Skaff Elias, Arka Ray and Jon Bankard announced today they’ve teamed up to form a new game studio, Popularium. The four co-founders each worked on and led teams behind some of the most recognized games and franchises in the world, including Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, Xbox Live, and more.
“The core philosophy behind Popularium is to empower gamers, instead of treating them purely as customers,” said Ray. “We’re building games and experiences that blur the lines between gamers and creators. We want to give gamers the kind of joy, flexibility and depth in our games that they would expect from the creators of Magic, Hearthstone, and more.”
The formation of Popularium was announced at a closed-door “First Look” event, where team members showcased Popularium’s launch title – Chaos Agents. More is expected to come from Popularium this summer for gamers signing up on the waitlist at popularium.com for an invitation to the Chaos Agents community.
“Ever since Magic was published I’ve been trying to recapture something that I thought was lost after release,” said Garfield. “When Magic was first designed everyone had their own treasured collection, but those treasures became commodities, and we lost some of that magic. Since then I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back to that. Now digitally we can bring back that unique collection idea with Chaos Agents. When everyone has the same thing, these experts say that when you want to play well you have to hew to the standard, which is very prescriptive and doesn’t leave much room for discovery and play. In Chaos Agents, expert advice has to be much more general, leaving a lot more room for players to discover something interesting about what they uniquely own.”
“We are now thrilled to share the incredible progress the team has made,” said Bankard. “The Chaos Agents Simulator and tech as well as the expansive IP, game universe, and metagame systems that are coalescing.”
During the event, which took place April 5th, Garfield, Elias, and Bankard took participants through a complete game loop using the Chaos Agents Simulator and gave a preview of Popularium’s unique heroes and character generation system. The art and narrative teams, comprising veteran creatives such as Chris Ryall (formerly Chief Creative Officer at IDW Publishing), Jeremy Cranford (formerly art director for Blizzard and Wizards of the Coast), and Peter Orullian (creator of the Vault of Heaven series), also revealed details of the game universe, races, character motivations, and the official name and theme music for Chaos Agents.
“Collectively, we’ve worked to achieve deep games where each player’s experience is unique, and yet there is overall balance,” said Elias. “We’re striving to deliver interesting gameplay that is always changing at the level of the individual player and the play environment in general. The metagame challenges of creating the community and economy associated with this type of game is not easy, but the opportunity excites us, and we have interesting solutions we’ve been working on for a long time.”
Popularium was founded by a team assembled from across a wide spectrum of the gaming world. Previously, we honed our skills on some of the best, most beloved gaming franchises in history—games like Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft and GTA. Popularium’s core values are aimed at delivering gameplay full of unique world-building and character development, fun, meaningful gaming experiences and active community engagement that blur the lines between gamers and creators. In short, we’re making the kinds of games we’ve always wanted to play.