In the annals of high-tech, this may be one of the more unusual hiring stories. Z2Live, maker of the popular Trade Nations game, was on the prowl last year for an air combat shooter game in the spirit of Top Gun. The Seattle team, led by head of publishing Lou Fasulo, scoured Apple’s App Store for high-quality titles and finally discovered one they absolutely loved despite some subpar graphics.
They contacted the developer, Josh Rosen, and agreed to meet him at the Game Developers Conference in Austin. Impressed with Rosen’s talents and encouraged by the “best 3D engine we had seen,”, Fasulo and CEO David Bluhm decided to buy the game and hire the developer to form the backbone of the new air combat game, MetalStorm.
Rosen quickly accepted, and decided to move to Seattle from his home in California. But that’s when things took a little bit of a twist. A few days later, Bluhm heard that Rosen’s father had some “concerns.”
“Turns out he was younger than we thought,” Bluhm tells GeekWire. “We had just hired a 17-year-old who lived at home in Monrovia, California and had dropped out of school to make iPhone games in his bedroom.”
Rosen’s father granted permission for his son to relocate with one caveat: Z2Live had to promise to make sure that he got his high school GED while in Seattle.
Not a problem for Z2Live, which believes MetalStorm has the potential to be a huge hit on the iPhone. The game, which is free and being released on iOS devices May 12th, looks pretty colorful and intense based on the video promo that Z2Live released (see below).
Bluhm has some experience with air combat games. While CEO of HandsOn Mobile, he released a game called TopGun which was one of the company’s top performers for many years. He’s hoping for bigger things from MetalStorm, which will allow game players to make in-app purchases to acquire new weapons, planes and missions.
“Historically, these games have always done very well on mobile as they appeal to a younger, male audience – very consistent with the largest group of iPod owners,” he says.
During a beta release in Canada, Bluhm said that MetalStorm rose into the to 10 in terms of top iPhone grossing games.
And what does Bluhm, an experienced startup executive in Seattle who recently raised $2.5 million from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Madrona Venture Group, make of his young recruit?
“He is an absolute rockstar,” says Bluhm, adding that MetalStorm will be one of many triumphs to come for Rosen. “In the meantime, we’ll continue to sneak him into our corporate parties and events.”
You can check out a preview of the game here: