HitPoint Studios, a work-for-hire game studio that has begun making augmented reality games, has announced that Ariella Lehrer, the founder and CEO of Legacy Games, will join the studio as its president.
The move follows a multi-year development partnership between Legacy Games, a brand-oriented maker of mobile and PC games, and HitPoint. Three of Legacy’s top people will move over to work at HitPoint while Legacy Games will continue focusing on its current customers and titles. Lehrer will help HitPoint focus on augmented reality games and apps, as well as other casual and mobile game titles.
“This studio is a diamond in the rough,” said Lehrer in an interview with GamesBeat. “I worked with many studios over the years, and HitPoint has exceeded my expectations every time. We know each other pretty well.”
Lehrer has been making games and apps for a few decades, and she worked closely with Greenfield, Mass.-based HitPoint for the past four years. They first got together making the BBC’s Jane Austen game for Facebook. That was when HitPoint showed its prowess in keeping mobile and online games up and stable.
Outside of games, HitPoint will focus on AR apps for retention, training, and education. It recently worked with Legacy Games to make Crayola Color Blaster for Tango as well as Color BlastAR and Kody Kapow: Village Defender for iOS 11 ARKit, or Apple’s new AR platform. In augmented reality games, developers create apps that can overlay an animated, digital layer on top of the real world.
Lehrer, who founded Legacy Games in 1998 in Los Angeles, works in Hollywood, and she has been heavily involved with brands from Hollywood companies. Her job is to create an active product pipeline for HitPoint. At Legacy Games, she worked with brands like Crayola, Tarzan, and Criminal Minds.
Legacy Games effectively served as an agency between Hollywood entertainment companies and a variety of game developers. Legacy Games operated profitably, with revenues ranging from $1.5 million to $5 million a year. But Lehrer now believes that the technical hurdles with AR and other new game platforms are so high that she should focus on working with one studio that can build up a large body of knowledge on how to make them.
“After more than two years working in AR, we’re really just starting to scratch the surface of what will be possible with these new platforms,” said Paul Hake, the CEO of HitPoint Studios, in a statement. “As technologists, we’re always striving to explore new ways to engage our audiences in meaningful ways. Ariella’s business and product savvy, and overall vision for our industry positions HitPoint to become a leader in AR, a burgeoning ‘new frontier.’”
Founded in 2008, HitPoint Studios develops mobile, casual, and branded games. It did work-for-hire projects for Legacy Games and others, and more recently it started focusing on augmented reality experiences. In addition to ARKit, HitPoint is also working on ARCore games for Google’s Android platform.
Lehrer said she was drawn to HitPoint’s technical mastery. The studio runs the backend operations for three of the biggest mobile game publishers, as well as its own products. She said that HitPoint’s work-for-hire revenue has doubled since 2016, and HitPoint is now working on a major unannounced game for a big company.
“They do game operations, and it’s a good, sustainable business for customers like Walmart,” Lehrer said. “They’re supporting millions of customers.”
On October 13, Legacy Games will be launching a hidden-object puzzle-adventure game dubbed Adera, and it is releasing a Halloween update for Color BlastAR on October 19. To date, HitPoint’s games have been downloaded and played by more than 20 million people on mobile and Facebook desktop. Adding in their work-for-hire titles, HitPoint’s games and apps have had more than 50 million downloads.
Lehrer said she is excited about upcoming titles with a focus on real-world experiences for educational purposes. HitPoint has about 25 employees while Legacy has around 10. HitPoint Studios raised $2 million in 2015, shortly after its move to Greenfield, in the Springfield, Mass. area.