Video game developer rises from the ‘Ash’

Born within the halls of business school, a mobile video game developer has landed in Richmond.

SRRN Games just leased a 1,200-square-foot office in the Boulders, where it plans to cook up its next batch of video games, primarily for sale for Apple and Android mobile devices.

Co-founder and Richmond native Aujang Abadi said the company is using a round of angel investment it received in December to fund its current growth phase. The company has doubled the size of its team from seven employees to 15 and is focusing much of its efforts on developing a sequel to its most successful game to date: a role-playing game called “Ash.”

The company got started in 2009. Abadi was getting his MBA at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia with plans to pursue a job in the Xbox division of Microsoft. He wrote a paper on the philosophy of game design. A classmate, Tyler Carbone, asked to read it.

“The next time I saw him he said, ‘I want to be a part of this.’ And I said, ‘I have no idea what you are talking about,” said Abadi, who graduated from the Governor’s School and went to college at Colgate.

Carbone was pitching the idea of starting a business, and Abadi took him up on it. And as it turned out, Xbox doesn’t typically hire MBAs, Abadi said.

The duo formed SRRN with a shared vision of how video games can be more than purely entertainment.

“We both believe that gaming has the potential to be the next medium of art,” Abadi said.

“Ash,” for example, like other role-playing games, centers around a group on a quest through a fictional land that must battle monsters along the way. But Abadi, who scripted the story of the game, says it is much more than that.

“All of our games start with an artistic premise, for Ash I had a mind towards exploring how men deal with love, loss and vengeance,” Abadi said.

He said the company was cash flow positive last year, largely on the back of “Ash,” which became one of the most popular games in its genre in the Apple App Store. The game was also featured in Wired Magazine and received positive reviews from a number of gaming websites. SRRN has sold 100,000 copies of “Ash,” which costs $4.99.

The company is scrambling to build a sequel, which is tentatively titled “Embers.” Abadi said he’s hoping to finish the game by the end of August and is in talks with a couple of interested publishers to release the game.

Self-publishing “Embers” is an option, but a publisher could market the game to a wider audience.

“We are really happy with our success so far, but we haven’t had that breakout product that will secure us for the foreseeable future,” Abadi said. “‘Embers’ can be that if we get the right publishing partner.”

The company has other games in development, including “Icebreakers,” which Abadi said is more accessible to new gamers. “Embers” requires a bigger commitment from its players, as it takes 25 to 30 hours of play from start to finish.

Abadi said SRRN is also developing “a social mobile game,” but details about that are still under wraps.

With the spread of smartphones, developers have been able to tap into the bustling marketplace for applications.

Consumers have spent more than $4.3 billion on apps in the App Store since it launched in 2008, according to Business Week. Apple approved its 500,000th application for sale in the store last month, which means there is plenty of competition.

“The great thing about the mobile platform is also its downfall,” Abadi said. “The barrier of entry is very low.”

Eventually Abadi said he hopes to transition to developing for consoles, such as the Xbox or the Nintendo Wii. But that requires more resources and more capital.

“The games released in the mobile sector allow us to establish ourselves,” Abadi said, “and then we are less risky to investors because we have the track record.”

Born within the halls of business school, a mobile video game developer has landed in Richmond.

SRRN Games just leased a 1,200-square-foot office in the Boulders, where it plans to cook up its next batch of video games, primarily for sale for Apple and Android mobile devices.

Co-founder and Richmond native Aujang Abadi said the company is using a round of angel investment it received in December to fund its current growth phase. The company has doubled the size of its team from seven employees to 15 and is focusing much of its efforts on developing a sequel to its most successful game to date: a role-playing game called “Ash.”

The company got started in 2009. Abadi was getting his MBA at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia with plans to pursue a job in the Xbox division of Microsoft. He wrote a paper on the philosophy of game design. A classmate, Tyler Carbone, asked to read it.

“The next time I saw him he said, ‘I want to be a part of this.’ And I said, ‘I have no idea what you are talking about,” said Abadi, who graduated from the Governor’s School and went to college at Colgate.

Carbone was pitching the idea of starting a business, and Abadi took him up on it. And as it turned out, Xbox doesn’t typically hire MBAs, Abadi said.

The duo formed SRRN with a shared vision of how video games can be more than purely entertainment.

“We both believe that gaming has the potential to be the next medium of art,” Abadi said.

“Ash,” for example, like other role-playing games, centers around a group on a quest through a fictional land that must battle monsters along the way. But Abadi, who scripted the story of the game, says it is much more than that.

“All of our games start with an artistic premise, for Ash I had a mind towards exploring how men deal with love, loss and vengeance,” Abadi said.

He said the company was cash flow positive last year, largely on the back of “Ash,” which became one of the most popular games in its genre in the Apple App Store. The game was also featured in Wired Magazine and received positive reviews from a number of gaming websites. SRRN has sold 100,000 copies of “Ash,” which costs $4.99.

The company is scrambling to build a sequel, which is tentatively titled “Embers.” Abadi said he’s hoping to finish the game by the end of August and is in talks with a couple of interested publishers to release the game.

Self-publishing “Embers” is an option, but a publisher could market the game to a wider audience.

“We are really happy with our success so far, but we haven’t had that breakout product that will secure us for the foreseeable future,” Abadi said. “‘Embers’ can be that if we get the right publishing partner.”

The company has other games in development, including “Icebreakers,” which Abadi said is more accessible to new gamers. “Embers” requires a bigger commitment from its players, as it takes 25 to 30 hours of play from start to finish.

Abadi said SRRN is also developing “a social mobile game,” but details about that are still under wraps.

With the spread of smartphones, developers have been able to tap into the bustling marketplace for applications.

Consumers have spent more than $4.3 billion on apps in the App Store since it launched in 2008, according to Business Week. Apple approved its 500,000th application for sale in the store last month, which means there is plenty of competition.

“The great thing about the mobile platform is also its downfall,” Abadi said. “The barrier of entry is very low.”

Eventually Abadi said he hopes to transition to developing for consoles, such as the Xbox or the Nintendo Wii. But that requires more resources and more capital.

“The games released in the mobile sector allow us to establish ourselves,” Abadi said, “and then we are less risky to investors because we have the track record.”

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Adrian Redding
Adrian Redding
10 years ago

Hello sir,

I was reading your article and I am very impressed with what you have been able to do with your ideas. I have an idea for a game as well. It would be used for Apple/Android mobile devices as well. I would really appreciate your response to this letter. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,
Adrian

Josh Squires
Josh Squires
10 years ago

It’s good to see more digital companies taking root in Richmond. Especially game designers. There’s tremendous creativity and ambition in this city and I think this could be the start of an East Coast Silicon Valley… if it succeeds. I sincerely hope it does as that sort of business is well suited to Richmond and would help us keep our talent here rather than having so many graduate and leave the state for creative tech companies in other states.