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4D Factory acquires majority stake in HBO game publishing spinoff Neon Media

The holding company for media technology 4D Factory has acquired a majority stake in the early-phase game and transmedia startup Neon Media.

Seattle-based Neon Media, led by CEO Mark Long, was spun off from HBO’s interactive division earlier this year. And now it will be part of a series of projects under the 4D umbrella led by CEO Cort Javarone.

In an interview with GamesBeat, Long said that Neon Media is working on a number of transmedia projects associated with well-known brands and TV shows. He said he couldn’t disclose what these shows are yet, nor could he say exactly how much 4D paid for the controlling stake. But Long said the amount was in the seven-digit range.

Long spoke about how to run great writer rooms at our GamesBeat Summit event back in April when the spinout was announced. Previously, HBO̵

7;s Neon Media team won an Emmy award for the Westworld virtual reality experience. He said the team is pursuing a dream of creating transmedia or narrative experiences that span a variety of media such as games, comics, films, and TV series. HBO itself is no longer interested in neon.

Long said the deal with 4D will allow the company to focus on its two major projects without having to worry about the funding part of the equation. 4D will provide the necessary capital, accelerate current productions and start new joint venture projects.

“As an independent studio, you’re always chasing money,” Long said. “It’s always a festival or a famine. We have a unique partnership with 4D that gives us access to capital. “

Although transmedia has been talked about for a while, it hasn’t been executed well as we’ve seen a lot of bad games based on TV shows and movies. Long is aware of this, but he is approaching transmedia with the goal of making triple-A games.

Above: Mark Long is the CEO of Neon Media.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

“We’re looking for opportunities to play games with the likes of Mark, who uses cutting-edge technology,” Javarone said in an interview with GamesBeat. “He’s been talking about transmedia for years and now we can do it. Before that, the games were complementary. And now the games are primary. “

Javarone said that was what attracted 4D to neon. 4D’s president is Kevin Conroy, who has held senior positions at MGM Studios, Bertlesmann and Univision.

Neon’s team includes Naomi Lackaff, Colin Foran, Mark Yeend, Aaron Nonis, Don Norbury and Gianna Sulyma. There are a total of eight people in the company.

Epic Games recently gave Neon an Epic MegaGrant. As part of the scholarship, Neon uses the Unreal Engine to create scenes for both the game and a TV show. The Unreal Engine has moved beyond the confines of games into a multi-purpose tool used to create television commercials and movies. It was used to create the special effects of The Mandalorian TV show on Disney + streaming service.

Lange said that just like The MandalorianNeon Media is also driving state-of-the-art virtual production.

“We’re going to show two scenes from the TV series and then one scene from the game together,” Long said. “We’re working with Epic to prove this transmedia concept.”

While Neon Media is small, it will work with seasoned developers that Long has long known to run the projects.

“We try to find creative partners who really deal with us,” said Long. “We don’t just want to license an entertainment property and make a game. We want to expand the property and tell stories that fill and tie the gaps in fiction. “

4d, meanwhile, plans to acquire teams that have lights in various areas such as entertainment, media, technology, games, and investment. In addition to Javarone and Conroy, both Long and Jamil Moledina are consultants at the Los Angeles firm. Jonathan Miller, the former CEO of America Online, is also part of 4D.

Javarone said he met Long in 2013. He had been interested in transmedia for some time and was impressed by it Sonic the Hedgehog Film based on Sega’s mascot game character.

“We want to grow the company through acquisitions,” said Javarone. “We’re investing in technology, content and distribution.”

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