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Neither a traditional studio or a publisher, we’re an innovative developer of AAA video game studios and interactive entertainment.

In recent years the games industry has been challenging for game developers. Difficult cultures, unpredictable compensation, and unstable employment have been heightened by business arrangements that haven’t typically rewarded developer success creatively or financially.

Everyone, game developers included, deserves opportunities to work in an environment that respects people, culture, and creativity while also providing predictable compensation and a stable career.

ProbablyMonsters exists to unite, guide, and empower talented game developers in a stable and predictable business environment.

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Our Journey

2016

2016 -

Harold Ryan founded ProbablyMonsters with the goal of making not only great games, but also a great game making experience for developers. We focused on culture.

2017

2017 -

We hired our leadership team, built our core technology and infrastructure, and focused on developing game concepts.

2018

2018 -

We more than doubled in size, conducted family BBQs, and focused on our people.

2019

2019 -

Our first two game studios have hired their core teams, each working on new original IPs and establishing exciting publishing partnerships. We are focused on building new studios.

2020

2020 -

More exciting things to come, stay tuned!

Meet the Leadership Team

Harold Ryan

Harold Ryan

CEO and Founder

With over 20 years of games industry success, Harold Ryan has been responsible for generating over $5B of revenue through iconic franchises such as Halo, Destiny, Age of Empires, and MechWarrior. He has held distinguished executive roles including CEO, President and Chairman of the Board at Bungie as well as key positions at Microsoft and with Ensemble Studios and FASA Studios.

Ryan founded ProbablyMonsters to establish a new category of gaming entertainment company, one capable of developing the next generation of AAA video game studios and interactive entertainment. He has created what he calls a ‘Monster Platform’ for his studios which provides early stage infrastructure and long term support on Operations and Business Leadership, Technology, Analytics, Test, and QA, among several other services, empowering their studios to lead their teams and develop games free of distraction. As CEO, Ryan leverages his experience from building some of the world’s most influential and successful gaming studios and franchises. He is known for consistently creating exceptional teams and results—both critically and commercially—with scalable tools, efficient process, and an atmosphere of respect and transparency. His entrepreneurial and altruistic spirit have been the inspiration for millions of gamers, positioning him as one of the most acclaimed and sought-after video game executives in the entertainment industry.

Ryan took his first role in gaming in 1998 as a game tester for Microsoft, leading to increased management responsibilities for over 30 game titles across leading studios including FASA Studios, Ensemble Studios, and Bungie. During his tenure at Microsoft, Ryan also established the hardware compatibility team for the games division, building an industry leading standard for OEM and IHV partnerships, and delivering best in-class performance to Windows gamers worldwide.

With increasing leadership roles at Bungie from 2000 through 2016 as the company grew from less than 100 staff to over 600 employees, Ryan led Bungie to become one of the largest and most successful independent game development companies of all time. At Bungie, his credits include the key franchise releases of Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, Halo Reach, Bungie.net, and Destiny. Ryan’s tenure at Bungie is an inspiration to millions of gamers and professionals in the industry, with a career beginning in QA and ultimately leading the studio as CEO and President.

Among Ryan’s many achievements, successfully negotiating Bungie’s divestiture from Microsoft in 2007, he demonstrated a vision for a establishing a preeminent independent game development company. To set Bungie on a new path, Ryan secured strategic partnerships with Activision, Sony, and Microsoft for a ten-year horizon securing over a billion dollars in funding and delivering billions more in revenue. Ryan has won multiple awards, including Game of the Year for Destiny in 2015.

A graduate of Washington State University with degrees in Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Mathematics, Ryan lives in Issaquah, Washington. He is an active outdoorsman who’s as comfortable hiking for weeks, building a home, or splitting wood as he is negotiating major deals in the boardroom.

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Dave Matthews

Dave Matthews

Studio Head, Cauldron Studios

Cauldron Studios is headed by Dave Matthews, who has over two decades experience managing large teams while helping build franchises like God of War, Myst, F.E.A.R, and Destiny. Matthews was formerly Lead Character Artist at Sony Computer Entertainment of America and Art Director at Bungie and Monolith Productions. Having shipped over 20 titles across multiple platforms and game engines, Matthews finds his greatest impact in leading teams to excellence. As Studio Head, Matthews is excited to work with highly talented and motivated professionals, helping them push the limits of imagination and execution to deliver compelling worlds, characters, and experiences that delight players around the world.

Game(s) that got me into gaming: Street Fighter 2 Championship edition, Tron series, Arkanoid, Dragon’s Lair

Matthews also serves as a professional advisor to DigiPen Institute of Technology for both the Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts programs, helping to shape curriculums that transform the next generation of talented artists into successful top tier game developers. Matthews believes that the road to creating inspirational and award-winning games starts with the focus and passion of the team. Through generating a solid foundation of respect and nurturing a culture of imagination and possibility, teams are inspired to collaborate, build from each member’s strengths, and leverage individual passions to drive execution. These principles are Matthews’ cornerstone for growing strong and healthy teams that bring high caliber entertainment to market and forge long lasting relationships with gaming audiences.

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Dave Matthews
CJ Cowan

CJ Cowan

Game Director, Cauldron Studios

The Game Director at Cauldron Studios is CJ Cowan, who was previously a Creative Lead for the Story Team at Bungie on the Destiny Franchise and the Director of Cinematics across the bulk of Bungie’s Halo titles. He has spent his entire career focused on storytelling and character building for interactive entertainment, contributing to titles with combined sales of over 50 million units. As Game Director, Cowan is thrilled to be working with a team that believes in an equal balance between story and gameplay, where each discipline complements the other on multiple axes.

Game(s) that got me into gaming: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Commodore 64

As Bungie’s Director of Cinematics for nearly a decade, Cowan shipped Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3 ODST, and Halo: Reach, and directed hours of award-winning real-time cinematics and marketing trailers. With his animation background, he was intricately involved in directing the motion capture sessions, the facial animation, as well as the cameras, lighting, and editing of Master Chief’s adventures. He also spent a significant amount of time directing voice over actors across tens of thousands of lines of combat and cinematic dialog. Cowan’s work on Halo has garnered him two Visual Effects Society Awards.

After Destiny’s initial release, Cowan helped lead the development of Bungie’s first Story Department, with a goal of solidifying the direction of the franchise’s characters and storytelling across all disciplines. Backed by the significant talent of that new department, he was the Story Lead for both the House of Wolves and Taken King expansions, which got rave reviews for the improvements to the existing Destiny characters and fiction.

Cowan obtained his Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts in Animation from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He maintains his Texan roots in his free time by being a professional tequila judge, is happiest on long road trips with his wife and dogs, and spends most of his time at work keeping his team from saying the words random and procedural.

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Tony Hsu

Tony Hsu

Studio Head, Firewalk Studios

Firewalk Studios is headed by Tony Hsu, a lifelong gamer, seasoned leader, and champion of new IP development. Hsu was previously General Manager and Senior Vice President of the Destiny business unit at Activision, building a world-class product management and marketing team that ultimately launched the Biggest New IP in Gaming. He harnesses over 20 years of business and gaming experience to further the goal of building a world-class next-generation games studio.

Game(s) that got me into gaming: TRS-80 Pinball, Mega Man 2, Phantasy Star Online, and Katamari Damacy.

Tony’s earliest memories involved loading cassette tape games onto a TRS-80 computer. Decades later, after thousands of hours of gaming on the Intellivision, NES, and almost every system since, he ended up working in investment banking in New York with a focus on games. There, he helped advise on M&A and financing for studios including Mythic Entertainment, Harmonix, and Bethesda Softworks.

In 2009, he joined Activision-Blizzard’s strategy team with a focus on developing new IP, and worked with Harold Ryan and Bungie to advocate for and establish the original publishing agreement for Destiny. In a finance and strategy role, Tony then helped launch Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty: MW3, the Skylanders franchise, and initial work with Tencent that would later lead to both co-publishing and a strategic investment.

As General Manager and Senior Vice President for Destiny, Tony built and led a new internal Activision team responsible for Destiny’s strategic franchise plan, product management, and marketing roadmap. Alongside Bungie and forging partnerships with Sony and Red Bull, the team launched Destiny to a record-breaking $500 million in Day One sales in September 2014, becoming the most talked-about game for 50 of 52 weeks following its release. He managed the launch of the critically and financially successful Destiny: The Taken King expansion and later took on the role of CFO of Activision Publishing before joining Firewalk Studios.

Hsu obtained his MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is an avid 80’s music junkie and also once made an appearance on the 90’s iteration of GamePro: The TV Show.

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Tony Hsu
Ryan Ellis

Ryan Ellis

Game Director, Firewalk Studios

The Game Director for Firewalk Studios is Ryan Ellis, formerly Creative Director at Bungie and Lead Artist at Oddworld Inhabitants. With nearly 20 years of game industry experience, Ellis has worked in almost every facet of game development and is a leader at building highly successful teams. His mission is to lead Firewalk’s talent with a goal of making best-in-class games that inspire and entertain audiences across the world.

Game(s) that got me into gaming: Parsec on a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. Press fire to begin!

Ellis began his career creating pre-rendered cinematics for Munch’s Oddysee at Oddworld Inhabitants, where he built the entire content tool chain and led the art team on the award-winning Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath. He next co-founded an indie studio that created Poker Smash before joining Bungie Studios as part of the Destiny team.

On Destiny, Ellis played numerous key roles as Technical Art Director in the development and shipment of the game. He guided and helped build the world editor used to construct content and was instrumental in the construction of Bungie’s unique graphics engine. Ellis built the lighting team from the ground up and directed their work to define the iconic look of Destiny’s game world. He also directed and managed a large technical technical art team and was responsible for guiding the boot sequence, opening cinematics, social space, and initial missions for the first 90 minutes of gameplay.

As Creative Director, Ellis shipped Destiny: The Dark Below, spearheading the introduction of new storytelling systems and characters leading one of the most successful expansions in the Destiny franchise. As Creative Director of Destiny 2, Ellis led a team of over 600 and multiple partner studios from initial concept greenlight into full production.

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Lonnye Bower

Lonnye Bower

Chief Operating Officer

Lonnye Bower is a seasoned engineering leader who was formerly Worldwide Technical Lead at Microsoft and Senior Engineer at Bungie. She has worked in roles ranging from Database Engineer to Architect, and has extensive experience managing large scale projects such as Destiny and Microsoft Azure. As COO of ProbablyMonsters, Bower oversees the physical and digital operations of the company and its game development studios. Her key responsibilities include IT, Services Engineering, QA, Security, Shared DEV/Tools, Real Estate, and Facilities.

Game(s) that got me into gaming: Bally Fireball pinball

Her first role in gaming was serving as one of only two database engineers during the production of Bungie’s Destiny. As part of the services release team, she guided both the studio engineers and release teams to zero downtime during the launch of Destiny, as well as the House of Wolves and The Taken King expansions, all while owning and maintaining the database infrastructure that kept the studio running.

After Bungie, Bower returned to Microsoft to serve as the Worldwide Technical Lead for Data Platform in the Office of the CTO for the Enterprise & Partner Group (EPG). In this role, she supported the Microsoft Azure and Data Platform field sales force and leadership, focusing on Microsoft’s Mission Critical and Tier 1 Data Platform strategy.

Bower has contributed to several whitepapers documenting best practices, application benchmarks, and has spoken at over 10 Microsoft TechReady events, TechEd Berlin, Ignite New Zealand, and several ISV conferences. She has a passion for travel and for being on or in the water and recently earned her Advanced Underwater Diver certification. Bower dedicates time to philanthropic causes both in Seattle and abroad.

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Lonnye Bower
Shannon Armstrong

Shannon Armstrong

Chief People Officer

Shannon Armstrong is an HR and recruiting leader with over 20 years of experience in various industries, including technology startups, retail organizations, and finance. Her expertise includes talent identification and development, employee engagement, performance management, organizational design and development, compensation and benefits plans, and HR operations and systems. At ProbablyMonsters she drives the company’s human capital management strategy – including talent acquisition and development, compensation and benefits, and employee engagement programs – to support the company’s continued growth and innovation.

Game(s) that got me into gaming: The original Super Mario Brothers

Her employment history includes Human Resources Director for Wagly, where she was responsible for implementing multi-state employee initiatives and all the HR foundational needs for a start-up organization. Prior to that she was the HR Director for Boeing Employees Credit Union, the 4th largest credit union in the United States, where she implemented a companywide performance management system, recruiting process & analytics that improved time to fill for key roles by over 20 days. She also spent six years as the Senior Recruiting Manager with Amazon, where she successfully managed the global recruiting efforts for three Senior Vice Presidents and implemented innovative recruiting efforts that decreased the time to fill for senior technical roles.

Armstrong has been an active member of the Society of Human Resource Management for over ten years. In addition, she is an ardent supporter directly involved in fund-raising for local charities seeking cures for cancer.

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Douglas Kikendall

Douglas Kikendall

Chief Financial Officer

Doug Kikendall, formerly CFO at TheTVDB.com and Oak Harbor Capital, brings years of business and industry experience in fiscal management, financial reporting, internal controls, human resources, strategic planning, structuring legal entities, and mergers and acquisitions. His roles as Chief Financial Officer, Vice President of Finance and Financial Reporting Manager have given him strong financial acumen and extensive experience in developing strong teams. He has a passion for developing sound financial infrastructures based on operational excellence, and in managing growth in both emerging and established companies.

Game(s) that got me into gaming: Big Buck Hunter on arcade and Fable on console

As CFO of ProbablyMonsters, Kikendall is excited to work with a highly passionate team that focuses on culture first, building strong mentorship, while at the same time having fun and giving back to the community. Kikendall has primary day-to-day responsibility for planning, implementing, managing and controlling all financial-related activities of the company. This includes direct responsibility for accounting, finance, forecasting, strategic planning, treasury, legal, property management, deal analysis and negotiations, investor relationships and partnerships with compliance and private and institutional financing.

Kikendall previously held executive and senior financial leadership roles at CliftonLarsonAllen, Oak Harbor Capital, Funko LLC, TheTVDB.com, and Reischling Press Inc. Before that, he worked as public accountant performing audits within the financial services, retail, manufacturing, and other industries.

A graduate of Washington State University with a Masters in Accounting, Kikendall lives with his wife in Seattle, Washington. When not looking for ways to improve the financial strength of the business, Kikendall is passport-ready and loves traveling to ease his curiosity about new places, experiences, and cultures. Beyond catching flights, he enjoys discovering Seattle’s hidden gems through its culinary delights, wine country, and ever-expanding craft beer scene.

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Douglas Kikendall

ProbablyMonsters Studios

ProbablyMonsters is built from the ground up to provide funding, staffing, infrastructure, technology, business operations and stability for their studios, allowing game developers to focus on what they are best at: creating exceptional interactive experiences that consistently delight their fans.

ProbablyMonsters is establishing a different breed of studios. They are built on a foundation of repeated success and are committed to building a positive environment that puts people, culture, and creativity first while developing and shipping original AAA games.

Cauldron Studios

Storytelling at the heart
of every experience we craft.

Firewalk Studios

Building world-class
multiplayer experiences.