WRITTEN BY TYLER A. MCNEIL | PHOTOS PROVIDED
Seasoned digital gaming entrepreneur Brian Corrigan remembers working unpaid shifts as long as 75 hours a week in his upstairs bedroom, worrying about compensating his two employees after blowing all his start-up funds in three months.
It didn’t fail. Saratoga Springs-based Madglory — credited for widening the Capital Region digital gaming cluster’s talent pool — was acquired in a multi-million-dollar deal by a Korean firm to provide back-end support for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
But with his latest venture, Corrigan believes he’s starting off on a better foot this time.
“What we’re doing differently is that we have a very clearly developed five-year vision of where we want to be and the type of company we want to work for,” Corrigan said. “At some point, it’s not about survival. It’s about how you want to thrive.”
The 43-year-old entrepreneur in May co-founded Rocket Science Corporation with self-described “chief propulsionist” Tom Daniels, a former executive for BD Gaming in Austin, Texas.
Now headquartered in the Halfmoon hamlet of Crescent, the duo plans to establish a second location in Daniels’ hometown, Cardiff, Wales, and possibly a third in Austin. Having a Cardiff site, they hope, will position Rocket Science to build a game development community from the area’s tech talent pool while closer to European markets.
Rocket Science five years forward hopes to fill 100 onsite, hybrid, and remote positions. Corrigan plans for at least half of the company’s workforce based in the Capital Region.
Currently leasing an inconspicuous Crescent-Vischer Ferry Road office, he aims to eventually shift local operations to a former firehouse in East Glenville. The site cost $350,000 overall.
Some $1.4 million from Empire State Development is expected to help cover workforce development and equipment costs, as well as establish a business incubator for digital gaming start-ups in coordination with the Tech Valley Game Space. Adirondack Trust Co. is also financing some of the renovation expenses.
Corrigan plans to lease out the southern-wing as restaurant space.
“Ultimately, it’s because I just want to have a nice coffee shop next to my office,” Corrigan said.
Rocket Science is one of several emerging firms with major industry ambitions, including Velan Studios, Rushdown Studios, Jahnel Group, and Wolfjaw Studios. The Capital Region’s so-called digital gaming cluster total boasted 16% growth last year, the Center for Economic Growth reported in March.
Providing venture capital and expertise, Corrigan is still involved with a number of ex-Madglory associates-turned-entrepreneurs. Between his and Daniel’s connections, Corrigan maintained that the duo knows “somebody everywhere.”
“If we’re competing for anything, we’re probably competing for culture as a region,” Corrigan said. “It’s really to make this cluster work and that’s a team game.”
Corrigan attempted to take a break from the industry last March, spontaneously resigning as Vice President of the Americas for now-KRAFTON-owned PUBG. Choosing to exit the job as an international executive was anxiety-wrenching, the serial entrepreneur maintained.
“Sometimes I’d wake up in cold sweats like, ‘what the — what is — what are you doing?’” Corrigan said.
On hiatus for about a week, Corrigan pursued a project for California-based Super Evil Megacorp studio betwixt co-founding Rocket Science.
Corrigan started working in the cluster 14 years ago as chief technology officer for Agora Games. The Clarkson University graduate previously provided back-end development support services for more than 13,000 slot machines with state lottery contractor now-Everi Holdings.