UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., May 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Universal Brand Development today announced that it will expand its strategic focus on games and build an organization to self-publish its own titles, taking a more direct role in the creative, development, marketing and distribution of games based on its IP. To drive this new business initiative, the company announced the appointment of three new executives: James Molinets, Senior Vice President of Production; Timothy FitzRandolph, Vice President of Creative; and Fabian Schonholz, Senior Vice President of Technology and Operations. Molinets and Schonholz report to Chris Heatherly, Executive Vice President of Games and Digital Platforms, Universal Brand Development.
While the initial focus for self-publishing will be on mobile, Universal plans over time to expand to other platforms. The first titles from the new publishing effort will launch later this year. Universal will continue to license its IP, strategically complimenting its publishing strategy.
"Games have become mainstream entertainment, reaching broad, global audiences and are quickly growing as a place consumers spend their time. As one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, we believe we must have a strong direct presence in gaming," said Heatherly. "Jim, Tim, and Fabian are some of the most talented leaders in the industry and evidence of the all-star team we are building here at Universal."
Molinets most recently served as Vice President, Games at Disney, where he was responsible for production and general management of all Disney and Pixar mobile games. Molinets is a 24-year veteran of the games industry who produced the critically acclaimed Alice in collaboration with American McGee, and later oversaw second party development for Sony and third party development for Disney. FitzRandolph was an early pioneer on mobile with the indie success, Jelly Car, and later teamed with Molinets at Disney on the worldwide phenomenon, Where's My Water, which became a successful franchise with three sequels, short-form animation, toys, and other consumer products. Together, they built Disney Mobile into a leading publisher of mobile games with hits like Inside Out: Thought Bubbles and Disney Emoji Blitz. They also oversaw kids' virtual world phenomenon, Club Penguin, and recently launched a successful mobile successor, Club Penguin Island.
Schonholz is a seasoned entrepreneur with a focus on "big data" and cloud services working for companies such as Internet Brands, where he was VP of Technology; professional photography service Pictage, where he was Chief Technology Officer; and most recently analytics innovator NinjaMetrics, where he served at Chief Operating Officer. As Senior Vice President of Technology and Operations, he will oversee Universal's cloud-based game publishing infrastructure with an emphasis on leveraging data to drive value across the gaming network.
In addition to the new appointments, two Universal gaming executives are receiving new roles. Bill Kispert, a Universal veteran of 15 years, moves into a new strategic position as General Manager of Business Development, reporting to Heatherly. Additionally, Pete Wanat has been named Vice President, Production, reporting to Molinets. Wanat has produced dozens of games both at and prior to Universal, where he has worked for 16 years. He is known for producing some of the best regarded games based on movie IP including Chronicles of Riddick and its sequel, as well as Scarface: The World Is Yours.
Universal Brand Development's Games and Digital Platforms business unit creates games and interactive experiences that extend engagement with the company's franchises on mobile, console, PC and emerging platforms such as Virtual and Augmented Reality. The team is also responsible for utilizing NBCUniversal IP through apps, personalization and digital content.
About Universal Brand Development
Universal Brand Development globally drives expansion of the company's intellectual properties, franchises, characters and stories through innovative physical and digital products, content, and consumer experiences. Along with franchise brand management, Universal Brand Development's core businesses include Consumer Products, Games and Digital Platforms, and Live Entertainment based on the company's extensive portfolio of intellectual properties created by Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment, DreamWorks Animation, and NBCUniversal cable and television. Universal Brand Development is a business segment of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, and part of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA).
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SOURCE Universal Brand Development