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Two former Activision employees have started a new studio in Bellevue called U4iA to develop what it dubs “hardcore, browser-based games for the connected generation.”

Chris Archer, who most recently served as the studio head and director of development at Sony Online Entertainment and worked for a number of years at Activision, and Dusty Welch, the former senior vice president and head of publishing at Activision, are leading the new startup.

VentureBeat has more details on the startup today, which reporter Dean Takahashi says operates in the same realm as Facebook game creators Kixeye and Kabam. (Kabam raised an $85 million venture round earlier this year from Google Ventures and others). “We think the hardcore gamers are going to start looking for the core games on the social and mobile networks now,” Welch tells VentureBeat.

U4iA, pronounced “euphoria,” has 14 employees and has raised $1.5 million to date. Archer declined to offer details about their first game, which he described as a “first-person shooter with deep social media integration.”

“What I can say is that we transformed the manner in which users play each other, compete, communicate, customize and show off,” Archer tells GeekWire. “It is free-to-play, but it isn’t your typical (free-to-play) game. It’s a AAA, hardcore experience in a web browser.  It’s ‘what’s next’ for our industry.:

At Activision, Welch launched the Call of Duty franchise. Archer, meanwhile, worked on games such as True Crime, X-Men Destiny and Monsters vs. Aliens while at Activision. In addition to Call of Duty, the two entrepreneurs also worked on titles such as Tony Hawk and Spiderman while at Activision.

Sony Online Entertainment shut down a number of game studios across the country, including the Seattle studio where Archer worked.

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