By Sahil Patel
Two former Machinima executives have teamed up with two top gaming personalities on YouTube to launch 3BlackDot, a new “influencer-driven” entertainment company that will focus on digital video production, game development, and social marketing.
Principals include Angelo Pullen (former head of affiliate development at Machinima), Luke Stepleton (director of entertainment network partnerships at the MCN), and YouTube gamers Adam Montoya (SeaNanners: 4.6 million subscribers) and Tom Cassell (TheSyndicateProject: 7.7 million subscribers).
Hank Stepleton, older brother of Luke and the former co-executive producer of the reality-TV hit “Duck Dynasty,” is also aboard as partner and head of Pickaxe, the company’s video production unit. He will be tasked with developing and producing content for both digital and traditional outlets, the first project of which being a new live-action short film based on 3BlackDot’s “Zombie Killer Squad” mobile game. (The trailer for the film will debut at the company’s launch party at San Diego Comic-Con.)
The “Zombie Killer Squad” short points to a major initiative for 3BlackDot, which is to build entertainment and media franchises that span multiple assets.
The focus will be to use the influence and audience reach of top online personalities to build these franchises. For instance, back in November 2013 when it was still in stealth mode, 3BlackDot released the “Zombie Killer Squad” game in partnership with Section Studios. Within nine days, the game recorded 1 million installs, the company said. Eventually, the game reached the top spot in the iTunes store in the UK, Canada, and Australia, and the second spot in the US.
“We put zero promotional dollars behind traditional user acquisition, so the immense success of ‘Zombie Killer Squad’ was due to support from fans of YouTube talent SeaNanners and TheSyndicateProject, both featured in the game,” said Luke Stepleton. “We’re building influencer-driven properties into massive franchises and ‘Zombie Killer Squad’ is just the beginning for us.”
Now at 2.6 million installs, 3BlackDot will soon release an update to “Zombie Killer Squad” that brings two more YouTube gamers into the mix: Tiffany Garcia (IHasCupQuake: 1.6 million subscribers) and Trevor Martin (TmarTn: 1.7 million subscribers).
This effort will be overseen by 3BlackDot’s studio unit, which will focus on developing animated and live-action content, games, and other licensed product.
Outside of its IP development and production units, 3BlackDot will specialize in two other areas: The company will manage a network of top YouTube talent (“each with their own distinct brands and dedicated followings”) and an agency division that would connect brands with these influential personalities. With the co-founders collective gaming background, it appears that will be the initial vertical targeted by the company.
“3BlackDot is launching with the industry’s most talented professionals in entertainment content creation, game development, and brand integrations,” said Pullen in a statement. “Our goal is simple: to deliver audience engagement, entertainment properties, and brand value that harnesses the power of Influencer communities.”