The man behind the new ‘Star Wars’ movies is getting into video games

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Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

  • The director of the upcoming “Star Wars” movie, J.J. Abrams, is starting a new video game company as part of his film production company.
  • The new studio is named Bad Robot Games, a division of his Bad Robot Productions company.
  • Abrams has flirted with video game development in the past, but this is Bad Robot’s first major push into the medium.

The director who rebooted the “Star Wars” franchise is taking on an entirely new medium: Video games.

Bad Robot Games is the new subsidiary of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, dedicated to the production of video games instead of movies and television. Abrams announced it this week, along with the news that Chinese company Tencent Games is partnering with Bad Robot to create the new gaming division. Warner Bros. is also an investor.

“I’m a massive games fan, and increasingly envious of the amazing tools developers get to work with, and the worlds they get to play in,” Abrams said in the announcement. “Now we are doubling down on our commitment to the space with a unique co-development approach to game making that allows us to focus on what we do best, and hopefully be a meaningful multiplier to our developer partners.”

Rather than building up a massive studio with hundreds of employees, Bad Robot Games intends to partner with game development studios to create new games.

J.J. Abrams and Valve's Gabe Newell spoke at DICE 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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J.J. Abrams and Valve’s Gabe Newell spoke at DICE 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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AIAS

This is far from Abrams’ first flirtation with video games.

During the video game industry’s annual DICE summit in Las Vegas in 2013, Abrams took the stage with Valve leader Gabe Newell to discuss a variety of topics.

Most importantly, Abrams and Newell announced a joint venture to create films based on Valve games like “Portal” and “Half-Life”, and for Valve to help out Bad Robot with video game work. Over five years later: Nothing materialized from that announcement. In the meantime, Abrams went on to direct the first new Star Wars film in years, “The Force Awakens.”

In the case of Bad Robot Games, the new division has its own leader – Dave Baronoff, who’s overseen interactive content at Bad Robot since 2006 – and a creative lead in “Duskers” creator Tim Keenan. Between those appointments and the deals with Tencent and Warner Bros., Bad Robot Games seems like a much more serious effort into gaming that Abrams has made in the past.

The company’s mandate is to work with developers large and small to create games for home consoles, mobile, and PC. No projects have been announced thus far.