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The Boys, Walking Dead exec opens game studio to create ‘living worlds’

Building off experience in TV, Amazon Studios and Fox exec Sharon Tal Yguado is switching to games

Premiere Of Cinemax’s “Outcast” - Arrivals Photo: Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Sharon Tal Yguado is known for her work on fantastical, living worlds designed for marquee TV shows. Yguado built up projects at Amazon Studios, Fox, and others, developing shows like The Walking Dead, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, The Boys, and The Wheel of Time. Now, she’s bringing that experience to video games.

Yguado announced her new studio, Astrid Entertainment, where she’ll serve as CEO, on Monday. With a small team of developers from AAA and indie spaces, Astrid Entertainment is currently working on its first, currently unannounced game designed to bring players together in worlds where they can define their own stories. Astrid Entertainment announced Monday that it’s got a “high seven-figure pre-seed investment” from investors like NetEase Games, Stardom, and Tower 26.

“All of a sudden [TV] felt a little safe, repetitive,” Yguado told Polygon. “I felt the the desire to do something innovative. I wanted to step step out and push boundaries with a smaller team and more creativity.”

Yguado said Astrid Entertainment’s first game is not an MMO, but it is a world where players — playing together — will define their own experience. She’s not building another metaverse, she said, but Yguado does recognize that people are spending more time in online worlds; they’ve become social hubs. Players will experience the world with a small group of others, but with the chance to meet other players from other worlds. It won’t have a linear story, like Yguado is most familiar with from TV.

As a woman entering the video game industry, Yguado said she’s especially aware of the culture that’s often perpetuated at large studios. For her, changing that culture means more women at the table, to create a space where people are comfortable speaking up, making mistakes, and learning from them.

“I’m humble to come in and learn, but I do think there’s room to grow,” Yguado said. “There are a lot of companies that said they were going to change their cultures and didn’t. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

It’s part of the reason Astrid Entertainment’s team is starting small and building up slowly.

“We are starting small and planning on growing organically [in team and project],” Yguado said. “We are putting our heads down and building the world and experience before developing and expanding into other mediums, but the plan is to be everywhere over time — multi platform, across various mediums. We will most likely start in early access because we want to bring in players early and evolve the world with them. We also care deeply about building passionate communities. We are making an accessible game that inspires positive, community play and hope to see more people play.”

There’s no timeline for Astrid Entertainment’s game just yet; the team is still building itself out.