Going Small - How the MumboJumbo Merger Will Affect Ritual

Last week, to the surprise of industry observers and gamers alike, MumboJumbo acquired Ritual Entertainment in order to reinforce its own army of developers and further strengthen its hold on the casual games market. We sat down with the Levelord to find out what exactly this acquisition means for Ritual, what kind of games we can expect from the studio, and just what is going going to happen to SiN Episodes.

I think a lot people's initial reaction was 'Ritual? Casual games? Noooooooo!' Why should we be excited about what's going on here?

It does seem sort of a shock at first, from the outside, for sure. Remember, though, making games is making games, a dream job come true! The words “casual” and “small” are very inaccurate when they are taken to mean the amount of fun a game provides AND the amount of fun it gives in development.

To be honest? …we’re enjoying the hell out of doing something different than hardcore shooters, and the variations within the casual game market makes us even more enthusiastic! These small games have some tremendous advantages, too!

Thanks to shorter development cycles, Ritual will be releasing multiple games each year on multiple platforms and reaching millions of gamers. Expect to see the Ritual logo on your PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox, console downloads, …everywhere!

Geometry Wars is one of the most successful casual games on Xbox Live Arcade.
With small games, you don't get the constant wrestling with cutting-edge technology that is itself in the flux of being developed as it is used for development of the game. So much time and effort is diverted from the essence of the game, the Fun Factor, by this wrestling and complexity.

Each Ritualite will be able to contribute much more to each title. I had forgotten how satisfying it is to be a major part of the game I’m working on, rather than only a very small piece of the complicated whole. There is also opportunity to be cross-disciplined. Some of our artists not only get to make all the characters and textures and assets, they can also code and do some designing. Some of the designers can also code and craft art assets. The coders? Well, they still mostly code, …programmer art is, …well, you've all seen it!

Most importantly, people should not belittle Ritual's new focus by the connotations set in the words “casual” and “small”. Even though we call them such, this is only due to the audiences’ preference in game play and play time. These words do not indicate any lack of serious gaming and fun.

Casual games are not simply puzzle and match-three games! They also include action, simulation, resource management, role-playing, character-building, …everything found in the traditional, hardcore market. The difference is that casual games are targeted for the mass audience.

Casual games are generally, but not always, less complex and they focus on a few simple rules and game mechanisms. Their strengths are their ease of play and quick learning curve, and game mechanics that have the player quickly addicted. They focus less on one-stretch, long-duration time commitments and more on quick bursts of enjoyment. They also rely on an intensely addicting gameism that makes them difficult to put down. With even the simpler of casual games, I have played more Luxor than any single shooter I've ever played.

Ritual now aims to raise the bar on many of the standards in the casual game market. This is one of the great things about us, a AAA-trained studio, joining with MumboJumbo, a well-established giant in the casual game market!

The Luxor series is one of MumboJumbo's most successful franchises.
Most hardcore gamers aren't familiar with MumboJumbo. Can you shed some light on your history with them?

Okay, the official stuff – MumboJumbo is a leading developer and publisher of casual games for both online distribution and retail channels. The company is well-connected to the largest retailers and distributors, both domestic and worldwide. Ritual, having now joined this network, looks forward to seeing its games on every shelf and every download site!

As a publisher, MumboJumbo currently boasts one of the strongest and largest line-ups in premium casual gaming. Most readers here have probably played a MumboJumbo game, or have a close acquaintance who is already addicted to their games. Ritual plans to multiply this line-up by at least an order of magnitude!

The cool stuff? …Ritual and MumboJumbo have shared much of their history, both professionally and personally. Ron Dimant, owner of MumboJumbo, was the CEO of Ritual from 1998 to 2001. When he left in 2001 to form MumboJumbo (directly across the hall from us) it was announced as a “splitting of Ritual into two companies”. The two companies are now joined again and continue with an even closer relationship.

With the incredible growth of the casual game market, MumboJumbo was in hot pursuit of more developers. As serendipity would have it, Ritual found itself with an opening to be one of those developers. We started working with MumboJumbo a few months ago by signing up for a few of their games. Within those few months, we decided to go full-steam and fully enter the market.

We, MumboJumbo and Ritual, saw this merger as an incredible opportunity for both of us, and we haven’t been happier since! Personally, I've never been this happy in the gaming industry, …and I've been pretty happy many times ;) Everyone at Ritual is enthusiastic (read: "happy"), too, and we hope our fans are happy for us!

  Next: Ritual's Future & SiN Episodes! >>