A group of former Riot Games developers have created their own studio, the newly launched Sprocket Games. The team announced the new studio via Forbes alongside $5 million in initial seed funding to support building out its core staff and its first project.
To sell itself as an employer, Sprocket is offering a healthcare plan that will cover transgender and non-binary employees, and is billing itself as a studio that “enables and encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work.”
“Many top-tier game developers in the industry are under-supported, marginalized, and underappreciated,” wrote CEO Josiah Kiehl. “Sprocket will provide developers opportunities they weren’t afforded at previous studios, creating a better, safer environment.”
Healthcare for trans employees has become a larger talking point as legislation in the United States continues to target trans and non-binary individuals amidst larger anti-LGBTQ policies. And though companies such as EA and Bungie have spoken out in support of trans employees, individual developers in those companies have argued that more can be done.
Kiehl, who worked as a senior software engineer at Riot, is joined by chief technical officer Nicolas Tittley, chief creative officer Jo Graylock, and principal technical designer Reina Sweet. Beyond their shared experience working on League of Legends and Valorant at Riot, the group’s past credits include Obsidian Entertainment and EVE Online developer CCP Games.
Sprocket’s first title will be a “social adventure game” that will feature cross-platform play. Its funding round was led by Bitkraft Ventures, with contributions with 1Up Ventures, Substrate, and Gaingels.
Earlier in the month, Bitkraft contributed to a $3 million funding round to new developer Superbloom, which will focus on lifestyle mobile games for women. Bitkraft also contributed to a $15 million round to developer Lightforge, who will be developing its own cross-platform social game.
In a press statement, Bitkraft’s Jasper Brand praised Sprocket’s staff for having “an exceptional reputation to inspire players and developers, and the passion to build a truly inclusive studio.”
Per Kiehl, Sprocket aims to “set a new standard for how we care for and empower game developers, both culturally and technologically,” he said. “Our goal is to give devs the creative space they need to take risks and make truly innovative and amazing games.”