If you’ve played Journey from Jenova Chen’s thatgamecompany (TGC) you know you have experienced something strange and magical, something that feels totally unique and yet fun and full of the pleasures that games can deliver (and if you haven’t played it, and you own a PS3, stop reading this post and go download it). If you’ve also played Flower and Flow, you know that Jenova is one of the most ambitious and creative forces in games.
I first encountered Flow seven years ago as a PC game Jenova made when he was a student at USC. At that time, the company I worked for was trying to figure out how to make a mobile version of EA’s Spore, and we were struggling with the design. The simplicity, logic and depth of Jenova’s game just shamed us. It was beautiful — meditative but tense in the perfect way.
Today, I’m delighted to report that Benchmark Capital invested $5.5 million in a Series A financing for TGC. I will be joining TGC’s board of directors. The intent of the investment is to provide the resources for TGC to remain independent, so they can innovate with complete autonomy from the pressures of platforms and publishers. I am really excited about getting to work with Jenova and his team to help build TGC into a global entertainment company.
We believe fundamentally in TGC’s vision for interactive entertainment: to bring to games a little of what Pixar films brought to animation — emotional depth, engagement with fully-realized worlds, and a strong sense of authorship. In the modern, hyper-connected games market, we believe TGC can reach the broadest possible audience if that vision can be fully controlled by the company. We’re excited to be able to help to make that happen.