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Zordix Gaming Group has named Christina Seelye as its new CEO. She will become the second woman CEO of any public company in the gaming business.
Seelye has more than 20 years of experience in tech and games, and she was previously CEO of game publisher Maximum Games, which Sweden-based Zordix acquired three months ago in a $42 million deal.
Seelye started Maximum Games in 2009 and evolved it into a publisher of double-A games, or titles that stand in between indie titles and triple-A games. Walnut Creek, California-based Maximum Games has served as a distributor of hit titles including Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Among Us (collector’s edition), and Five Nights at Freddy’s.
“We had a really transformative year in 2021 because Zordix acquired Maximum Games, and now we are a group with multiple studios all over the world with a full value chain of video games from all over the world with the full value chain of video games from development all the way through sales and marketing and publishing and lifecycle of the game,” said Seelye. “We are a group of entrepreneurs who have joined together and rolled up into a larger company.”
She added, “I was the founder and CEO of Maximum Games for the past 10 years. And and what we really realized is that in order to kind of stay competitive, we really wanted to control the whole value chain within the gaming industry and have everything from content creation to transmedia to growth and being able to have larger budgets of moving up to double A games and still have our core of working with independent studios, which we’ve we’ve really enjoyed. We will continue to have that be a big part of our strategy moving forward. But the combination with Zordix leapfrogged us up to more studios, development capabilities, content, and a truly global publishing infrastructure.”
In its history, Maximum Games focused on PC and console games. Now it can expand its audiences to games as a service and free-to-play games.
“We’re looking at a lot of different games and a lot of different categories,” she said. “So we have games in the horror category, fighting games. We have puzzle adventure games and a wide breadth.”
It grew its Super Animal Royale game to two million players with a high rating on Steam.
“We’re really proud of that,” she said. “As a publisher, sometimes when you’re working with an independent studio, everybody has to be really respectful of each other’s strengths. We have to be respectful of what are they really good at and what are we really good at. And we’re really proud of that relationship with them.”
Zordix and Maximum Games’ capabilities are a mix of physical retail distribution and digital live service games.
“We are one of the only publishers out there that really believes in all of those channels,” Seelye said. “We really like to launch games with gravitas to make sure that they have as many ways to make revenue as possible. We still like to have a physical copy at the same time a digital copy is released because we think that that’s actually the most efficient use of the marketing dollars that we’re using.”
In 2019, Maximum Games formed its Modus label and shipped Override: Mech City Brawl, its first title under the label. It then purchased the developer, The Balance, and rebranded it is Modus Brazil. In three years, Modus has shipped more than 15 games.
At Umeå, Sweden-based Zordix, Seelye will be head of a business that also includes Dimfrost Studio, Invictus Games, Modus Games, Modus Studios, Merge Games, Just For Games, Zordix Racing and Mane6. She replaces Matti Larsson, who will remain at the group as director of Innovation. Seelye will also remain as CEO of Maximum Games.
In her position at the publicly traded Zordix, Seelye joins Debbie Bestwick, who is CEO of Team17, which also went public in 2021, as the only woman CEO of a public game company, as far as we know.
Shane Bierwith, executive vice president of marketing at Maximum Games, has been promoted to president of Maximum Games.
“I have had a fantastic time at Zordix as founder and CEO and feel proud to have built a global video game group,” said Larsson, in a statement. “This shift is a natural next step that serves to secure the execution of our growth. I have decided to take up another role within the group and hand over the baton to Christina, who will take the company to a new level.”
In November 2021 Zordix announced the purchase of Maximum Games in a move to strengthen the company’s positioning as a leader in double-A game publishing. Partnering with game creators and franchises around the world, Maximum Games is a full-service video game publisher and distributor with over 300 titles in its catalog and operates publisher Modus Games (Super Animal Royale, Cris Tales, and Trine 4), as well as Modus Studios development team.
In January of 2022 Maximum Games acquired Mane6, the development studio behind Them’s Fightin’ Herds ® , a 2D fighting game featuring a cast of characters designed by acclaimed cartoon producer Lauren Faust (producer and developer for “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”; creator, director, and developer for “Super Best Friends Forever”).
Zordix is a multinational publishing and development group that now consists of five studios and four publishers and
leverages each entity’s unique capabilities and brand identity to deliver influential and entertaining content to gamers worldwide. Overall, the company has 200 people across offices in the U.S., Latin America, Sweden, France, UK, and Hungary.
Regarding being a rare woman CEO, Seelye said, “I’m really excited about that piece of it. I’m more excited about the work. It’s what I do. I feel good about where this company is going. I do feel it’s important to represent, and to have more examples of women leading companies in this industry. It’s like a source of inspiration for other women.”
She added, “It think it is important be at a position at a listed company where I can have access to capital, access to growth than I have ever had before. And I get to bring my view to the table and workstyle and aesthetic about what games get greenlit. I’m proud and excited to be in a position where I get to have an influence on that.”
Seelye is hoping to use her resources to expand the company. She thinks that gamers will want to play games that are premium $70 games, but they will also want to play games like double-A titles that cost $30.
“What I want to do as CEO of Zordix is to use our resources to bring more people into the family and bring many more strengths to the table,” Seelye said. “In 2022, we’re looking to both grow organically, as well as grow creatively with additional acquisitions. So we’re really looking for content. We’re really looking for studios that are like minded and content that feels like it’ll be part of where we want to go as a company.”
As for her advice to others climbing up the ladder, she said, “First and foremost, start with not sucking at your job, and then work hard. And you’ll be fine. It’s very simple. And I’m not trying to be dismissive because it’s not easy. It’s just that sometimes I think that especially over the course of people’s career, you get hung up with the fact that it’s hard. And it is hard. But competence always trumps. The other things are also important. For women who are in a position of influence within the industry, they should not just mentor but sponsor other people. And I’m going to widen that out to not just be women, but any kind of diversity. We all get to a better decision when we have creative, different views in the room.”
And she reiterated, “I think it’s our responsibility to sponsor, not just mentor, because I want it to be active. To to bring people up within the organizations. You see them being good at their job and competent. It’s our responsibility to go grab them and say, ‘Hey, I think you’d be a good fit over here, go try to do it. And I’ll help you.’”