Ex-Blizzard Devs Raise Big Bucks

Last September, key members of Blizzard's World of Warcraft team including team lead Mark Kern, art director William Petras, and Blizzard Korea co-founder Taewon Yun, all of whom were also involved in previous Blizzard titles, founded the MMO-focused development house Red 5 Studios. Today, the company announced that it has secured $18.5 million in investment from Benchmark Capital and Sierra Ventures--unrelated to Sierra Entertainment, owned by Blizzard parent Vivendi--during its Series A round of funding. Previously, Benchmark has invested in the successful online world Second Life.

"Historically, the winners in the gaming space have been publishers rather than independent studios. However, World of Warcraft is no ordinary game title and Red 5 is no ordinary team," said Benchmark Capital's Bill Gurley. "With the track record, talent and vision behind Red 5, it is positioned to become a unique creative powerhouse in the online games space." In addition to its founders, Red 5 employs numerous other former Blizzard developers, as well as former staffers from Myst developer Cyan, Ultima developer Origin, Oddworld series developer Oddworld Inhabitants, and elsewhere.

Red 5 has announced that it is developing a new massively multiplayer game for Webzen, which is currently also working on the upcoming MMOFPS Huxley as well as Real Time Worlds' GTA-esque MMO All Points Bulletin.