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ProbablyMonsters unveils Hidden Grove

ProbablyMonsters has had a long and eventful life for a company that has yet to ship a game.

First established by former Bungie CEO Harold Ryan in 2016 and announced to the world in 2019, the AAA game development outfit has launched three studios (Cauldron, Firewalk, and Battle Barge), sold one (Firewalk, to publishing partner Sony), canceled the debut project of another (Cauldron), and today announced another studio that is now hiring: Hidden Grove.

Given the widespread contractions the industry has seen in the past year and ProbablyMonsters’ own willingness to part ways with Firewalk, it’s interesting to see the company seemingly return to growing its development footprint, but Ryan tells it’s far from unexpected.

“It’s always been our plan to expand and grow strategically since our beginnings here at ProbablyMonsters,” Ryan says. “We’re certainly not immune to the ups and downs of the industry, but we have continued to evaluate and evolve our business and we make investments where we see an opportunity.

“We identified early on, which is why we formed ProbablyMonsters in 2016, that the industry needed a different way to support game developers and new IP to sustain the needs of gamers. It is our mission to unite, guide and empower developers who are aligned with our vision to make the industry a better place and create amazing games.”

Ryan adds that having the ProbablyMonsters central services team supporting the multiple development studios under the company’s umbrella allows them to be more than the sum of their parts.

Besides, much like ProbablyMonsters itself, Hidden Grove was around for a while before it made itself known. Hidden Grove general manager Chris Opdahl left Bungie to reunite with Ryan and start up the development team almost four years ago.

“He kept the team small and has grown it slowly, both to build and maintain the culture of how we do things differently at ProbablyMonsters, but also to take the time to explore new ideas and try new things,” Ryan says. “Teams often rush and get too big too quickly, which makes team cohesion harder and stifles innovation.”

Hidden Grove’s first project remains unannounced, but the company has said it will be an original multiplayer competitive adventure game built on Unreal Engine 5.

Ryan says he tapped Opdahl for the role because he is “the kind of leader that highly talented people form a strong bond with,” noting that Hidden Grove’s co-founding design directors, Raylene Deck and Grant Mackay, both worked with Opdahl on Destiny.

The Hidden Grove leadership team also includes executive producer Lori Ada Kilty, art director Jedd Chevrier, senior engineering director Dean Johnson, and narrative director Kate Welch.

In addition to the Hidden Grove news, ProbablyMonsters announced its new chief product officer, Adam Rymer. His background crosses a variety of media and entertainment properties, including a five-year run as president of Nerdist Industries, executive stints in the digital operations of Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures, and more recently serving as CEO of esports outfit Optic Gaming in the early years of the pandemic.

But for all the headlines ProbablyMonsters has made and the talent it has attracted, one thing it still lacks eight years on is a shipped game.

“We remain focused on delivering on our vision and demonstrating our positive approach to game development,” Ryan says. “This is something I believe in now more than ever. Would I like to bring games to market sooner? Absolutely. But our approach is geared to meet our long-term goal of building and developing talented teams to create and deliver exceptional games.”

As for when we’ll start to see the products of that long-term approach, Ryan is non-committal.

“I can’t provide specific timelines yet, but I can say that we remain committed to delivering high quality games that delight a variety of players,” he says. “We know everyone is waiting for us to launch a game, and we certainly will but for now, we continue to prioritize development needs and quality over go to market speed.

“We’ve got multiple development teams working to deliver their best, which certainly reflects our Hidden Grove and Battle Barge teams for their respective games, and we also have more incubation projects we’re constantly supporting. We appreciate the continued support and patience while we remain focused on our goals.”

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