Two Sony veterans have united to set up Liithos, a new AAA games studio. Liithos’ debut game will be Ashfall, which the studio describes as the “first true Web 3.0 AAA title for PC, console, and the Hedera network.” Yup, it’s another blockchain idea.
Liithos has been set up by Michael Mumbauer and John Garvin, two veteran PlayStation developers. Mumbauer was once head of PlayStation’s Visual Arts, where he worked on projects including Uncharted, The Last of Us, and Days Gone. He left Sony to become the founder of That’s No Moon, a role he left less than a year later.
Garvin, meanwhile, was creative director of Days Gone and Siphon Filter at Bend Studio. He, by his own admission, was fired from Bend for being “a disruptive personality”. In a talk with David Jaffe, Garvin said that he “had a few heated arguments” at the studio, and that he “sucked” at being a people person, a skill required in his position at the helm of a large team.
Ashfall is described as an open-world game set in a land ravaged by global warming, mysterious energy fields, and warring enclaves. It apparently starts as a narrative-driven single player game, but later evolves into a PvP and PvE game. Ashfall will also plug into the Hedera network, a blockchain system that will allow players to build, sell, and trade, with “exclusivity” being a focus. Such a word suggests that Ashfall’s scavenging and discovery elements result in NFTs. This comes despite the gaming community expressing overwhelming disdain for blockchain projects, so much so companies like Team 17 and GSC Game World have had to backpedal on NFT ideas.
Right now it’s impossible to tell what kind of studio and game these two personalities will produce, but it seems that Liithos is interested in not just the blockchain, but something called a “cinematic transmedia world.” It appears that Mumbauer and Garvin intend to work on more than just a video game, with the company announced as a “AAA Gaming and Entertainment Studio”.
“Michael and I have worked together creatively for almost two decades and this is our chance to create something really new and exciting. It’s like getting the band back together,” said Garvin in a press release. “Our goal is to create a truly next-gen, open world experience that engages with new technologies to allow user-generated content. As always, our focus is on creating beloved characters, captivating stories and evolutionary gameplay and a world worth exploring, not just in games, but other media as well.”
While Garvin has moved to set up this new studio, his Days Gone co-director, Jeff Ross, recently joined Crystal Dynamics as the studio’s new Design Director. It’s unclear if he’ll be working on the recently announced Tomb Raider game, or the Perfect Dark reboot that the studio is co-developing with Microsoft’s The Initiative.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.