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Thatgamecompany raises $5.5 million towards its independence

Jenova Chen's journey is just beginning


Thatgamecompany receives $5.5 to develop and publish its own titles.

Thatgamecompany, the studio behind the PlayStation Network games flOW, Flower, and the wildly succesful Journey, has raised $5.5 million from Benchmark Capital, enough to independently develop and release its own games, just as its contract with Sony has expired.

Founder, creative director, and chief executive Jenova Chen said that the company wants to branch out and reach a larger audience. "This enables us to bring our games to more platforms and provide our players the highest quality experience at every point of contact," Chen said in a post at his company's official website.

Benchmark Capital General Partner Mitch Lasky shares the company's vision for producing emotionally compelling games on a global scale. "Jenova has a chance to be the John Lasseter (head of Pixar) of the video games business," Lasky told Venture Beat. "I feel privileged to be riding shotgun with him. The ambitions for Thatgamecompany are very exciting to me." Lasky believes that Chen's games have "simplicity, logic, and depth," and offer "beautiful, and meditative" experiences.

Lasky believes that the industry can re-energize itself by supporting its indie games. "We are at a confluence of financial interest, the ability to self publish, and the broadening of consumer tastes that favors the indie movement," he said. "We have a democratization of publishing, the world has changed, and the audiences like the authenticity and authorship of the indies. It's a great time for Jenova to be completely unfettered when it comes to innovation. He is ready to spread his wings now."

Thatgamecompany, which currently houses nine employees, entered into talks with Benchmark Capital shortly after the departure of co-founder Kellee Santiago and designer Robin Hunicke. Chen, who is currently working on a new title, is excited at the prospect of making games across more platforms.

"We make games for human beings, not just gamers," Chen said. "Young, old, men, women, and from all countries. We want to change the concept of what a game is and show society what a game can be."

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