On a Friday in 2010, Eric Lee Smith got his first iPad. By Monday, he was ready to quit his day job and launch a studio to develop mobile games.
Smith, along with Jeff Dougherty, Pat Ward and Nick Karp, founded Philadelphia's Shenandoah Studio
in 2011. In 2012, Shenandoah launched "Battle of the Bulge
." The game was an instant hit, both in terms of sales and critical reception, and remains a strong seller. "Drive on Moscow
" followed in 2013.
Today, Shenandoah is located in Philadelphia's Good Company
incubator, employs 13 and is preparing to launch a new game, "Desert Fox: The Battle of El Alamein
," next month. "Gettysburg: The Tide Turns
" is halfway through the development process; they hope to launch it by July, the 151st anniversary of the battle.
Smith comes from a long background in startups and game development, both old-fashioned board and electronic, and says that everyone at Shenandoah is a gamer.
"It’s a small market, but it’s kind of us," he says. "We know how to reach these people."
Besides the games it has developed, Shenandoah has another 12 games in its portfolio as a publisher.
Demand for mobile gaming continues to explode. The challenge is keeping up with constant change, a situation Smith compares to the early days of the Internet itself. Shenandoah specializes in so-called turn-based games, as opposed to real-time games where the action never stops.
"Real time games focus on tactics, coordination and skill," he explains. "Turn-based games focus on strategy. You have time to think and play. And you can play without being on the clock or online."
All of Shenandoah's games so far are for Apple products, but the company is planning to expand to other platforms. Smith also hopes to expand to three development teams by the end of the year, adding another five positions, and to follow up with a fourth team, essentially doubling the size of the company.
Source: Eric Lee Smith, Shenandoah Studio
Writer: Elise Vider