Growth and change, at least in the video game industry, always seem to
be indicative of exciting new developments for a studio, especially if
that studio is just getting its feet. Like a newborn baby, these
studios have to grow and mature in order to get their legs underneath
them and stand, walk, and then run full speed ahead. These last few
weeks have marked a number of interesting shifts of talent, including
several new hires at 38 Studios and Red 5’s founder and CEO
changing his job title to Chief Creative Officer.

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Red 5 Logo

While I recently published an interview with href="" target="_blank">one
of 38 Studios’ new hires, I also had the very
fortunate and distinct opportunity to chat with Mark Kern, the
previously mentioned founder of Red 5. Many of you (especially href="" target="_blank">World
of Warcraft and/or Blizzard fans) may recognize the name due
to his previous work on WoW, but for those of you that don’t,
let’s just say that he’s one of the individuals
responsible for the href=",9179/"
target="_blank">exceptional successes that Blizzard has
produced over the past decade.

After exchanging pleasantries, we got down to business. Mark was eager
to explain some of the reasoning behind his shift from CEO to CCO,
which was more of an attempt to refocus than any sort of actual job
change. Like any growing company, Mark found that his time was being
spent more on the business side of things rather than the creative
aspect of the game in question.  

“It was apparent that it was something that needed to be
addressed,” Mark said. “We needed to have my focus
back on the game, and a lot of this operational stuff – to be
frank – really didn’t appeal to me.
That’s not really why I entered the industry; it’s
not why I’m here.”

“So we basically decided to split up the roles,” he
continued. “We just needed to have someone focused on the
creative strategy of our products. I have to tell you that this is my
second week on the job, and I’m already a lot more excited. I
enjoy the business side of things, and I’ve made a lot of
great relationship in the industry, but my passion is really with the

Of course, one of Mark’s major goals when he served as the
CEO of Red 5 was to bring in an excellent assortment of individuals to
work on his upcoming product. By using the Golden Ticket promotion,
which is briefly discussed in this href="" target="_blank">old
interview with Red 5’s Scott Youngblood, Mark
gathered a whole crew of very talented, very enthusiastic individuals
to join his team. But now that Mark was switching positions, does that
mean his team is in place?

“In the early stages of the company, we were trying to
recruit a really excellent team,” he explained. “We
went all across the games industry and other industries to find people
that were really passionate about gaming and who really had great
skills that they could bring to the table. I really enjoyed that aspect
of it, and you’re right – and very astute to note
– that that phase is pretty much complete and that we have
the team in place that we need.”

With a team in place and a new Chief Creative Officer to work out the
concept of the project, it sounds like Red 5 is really ready to make
some serious waves in the MMOG market. But, up to this point,
we’ve heard almost nothing about the upcoming game except for
the small
hints and information that Kern revealed
to us earlier this
year. At this point, I wondered aloud to Mark if they were getting
ready to make a larger announcement.

“It does mean we’re close [to making an
announcement],” Mark said. “We’re still
in discussions about the timeframe of the announcement and the nature
of the announcement, but the team is chomping at the bit to tell the
world about what we’ve been working on. When that moment
comes, we’ll make sure Ten Ton Hammer is on the

“But for now, we’re in active discussions about the
announcement and you can expect more about it in the near
future,” he concluded.

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Mark Kern, Chief Creative Officer

So what is this game really going to be about? Although Red 5 has yet
to come out and announce their project, they have made several
statements along the lines of their title being the “next big
thing” and similar sort of comments. The phrase may sound a
bit ambitious, Mark was eager to point out the true meaning of their
“next big thing” focus and where players will
experience a gaming difference.

“Whenever people ask me about “the next big
thing”, I like to really describe how you need to separate
your business goal from your creative goal,” Mark said.
“The creative goal needs to make business sense, but from a
creative standpoint, we also want to take the genre farther and give
users fresh new experiences. That’s our goal. We really feel
like we’re standing on the shoulders of giants in that we can
see from our experiences with WoW and the other games that
we’ve worked on, and we can gaze just a little bit farther on
the horizon than what we could in our previous games. We want to give
players an awesome online experience that’s just a little
different than any experience they’ve had before.”

Even with the focus on the “next big thing” being
readily apparent in Mark’s words, the press release that was
issued announcing Mark’s move also made mention of
“future games” at Red 5 Studios. I asked Mark about
these “future games” and if they were actively
working on anything else besides the undisclosed MMOG project.

“That’s a future-looking statement,” Mark
explained. “We’re very focused on making one game
and making one game really, really awesome.”

In our previous interview with Mark, he hinted at the fact that Red 5
may be working on a game that has more sports elements in it than
gamers are typically used to in their MMOGs, along with having some
very solid PvP experiences. For some users, PvP is definitely a draw,
but it seems almost contradictory to the inclusion of story and
immersion in a MMOG. When I mentioned this to Mark, he was very adamant
in explaining that competition and immersion aren’t mutually
exclusive, and that his game was planning to achieve both.

“I do think there’s still room for story and
immersion even in a competitive environment, and we hope that people
can almost live a sort of “virtual life” in the
game,” he continued. “Creating an original IP is
also very important to us, and we have people at our company that are
world builders. Story builders. Although we may not have a lot of overt
elements like that in the game, it carries through with the look and
feel of your characters as well as your excitement at getting into the
game. That’s really want we’re talking about the
story and immersion. We want to create a boisterous, incredible
environment for players to get into in our game. It’s really
the difference between a “B” game and a
“AAA” game.”

“We’re also very focused on driving competition
between players even when it isn’t PvP oriented,”
Mark answered. “We definitely see that as a huge factor in
Asia and that it drives a lot of gaming that we see over there, and we
really hope to bring more of that over to the Western market.”

Finally, we asked Mark why we hadn’t heard more from Red 5 in
the previous months. Although his answer was very short, it made it
very apparent where Red 5 is focusing their development energies.

“We want to let the game speak for us,” Kern said.
“That’s something that is very important to us.
You’re only as good as your last game, and we have a lot to
prove with this one.”

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016