|Company Spotlight: Beenox Inc.|
February 24, 2005 | Dustin Smith
The year 2000 was the ending of an era, and the beginning of another for Dee Brown. Such was the case when he quit his programming job at A2M, a game development company in Montreal, Canada. That year he ventured off on his own to create Beenox Inc., which has slowly but surely become a porting powerhouse and game development company in the gaming industry. Today, the company employees over two dozen employees and is rapidly growing.
Founded in Quebec City, Canada, Beenox Inc. is quite unique because it is split up into two separate divisions: Beenox Shift, which works with companies to develop simultaneous ports of games and demos, and Beenox Score, where the employees work with their own engine and toolset and is currently developing its first game for consoles and computers.
At the ripe young age of 13, Brown began tossing around ideas in his head about developing his own studio. Six years passed before Brown finally formulated a plan of how he was going to start up his business. He spent several years before starting his own company at A2M developing PlayStation titles where he gained some valuable managerial experience. After working there for two years, A2M wanted to relocate to Montreal and Brown thought that would be the perfect time to bug out with five other guys to create Beenox.“I'm now 26 years old, most of my energy is now focused on management and business development tasks at Beenox as president,” says Brown. "President of basically two completely different divisions is difficult. I have problems chewing gum and walking, but ensuring that both divisions are on schedule with projects and making sure that there are more projects in the pipeline…wow."
Not only does Beenox Shift specialize in simultaneous ports of games, which means that the PC/Mac version of the game reaches store shelves at same time that the console version does, the Shift division also assists companies with their porting expertise and other game-related help such as developing demos and designing and producing expansion packs. If any of you have played the demo for Prince of Persia 2: Warrior Within for Xbox/PS2, you played a creation of Beenox Shift.
“A simultaneous port is likely trying to hit a moving target and obviously this is much more work than a product based on a finished game,” Brown said. “In the case of The Incredibles, the game shipped in 13 languages throughout the world so it basically means that we had to have 26 versions of the product ready for the movie release.” For those of you wondering why 26 versions were created, they did PC and Mac.
Beenox Score isn’t brand new. “Not brand new?” you say, “I’ve never heard of them.” Well, you have…you just haven’t realized it. They got their jumpstart from participating in the development of “Cro-Mag Rally” from Pangea Software. You know, the kart racing game where cavemen race around throwing bones at each other and collecting arrowheads? If not you really missed out. Hopefully you might remember the “Coldstone Game Engine”, a brilliant little program allowing you to create your own games for PC/Mac. Or what about the RPG “Garendall” and its expansion pack “Garendall Trinity”? Beenox Score did all of these.
With E3 quickly approaching and many game journalists getting prepared for the frenzy, I asked Brown if we would see any surprises from Beenox in May.
“Surprises? Maybe. We have 11 projects in development and there is some stuff that we’ve been working on that is very, very cool.”
Some of the projects Beenox is working on for the Mac include Myst IV: End of Ages and Star Wars Battlefront. With11 projects on the way, Beenox is currently one of the only companies that can port a game simultaneously and ship the game within two weeks of the original. The company will be expanding to 35 people by the summer.
It sounds like a heap of work and I am sure it is but as President, Dee, along with the management staff, recognizes that there is a life outside of Beenox. In keeping with that philosophy they never work on weekends and if they reach a certain number or overtime hours they consider that to be a failure, so they hire more resources to prevent it from happening again.
With four Mac titles in the pipeline and more on the way, Beenox is becoming a powerhouse in the Mac gaming industry. Be sure to check out their web site for more on Beenox.