He hopes video game inspired by old fairy tale is a winner

MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Ash Monif is the CEO of Grimm Bros, a Center City firm that develops role-playing video games.
MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Ash Monif is the CEO of Grimm Bros, a Center City firm that develops role-playing video games.
Posted: September 26, 2013

A SH MONIF, 36, of Center City, is co-founder and chief executive of Grimm Bros, a studio developing online role-playing video games. Monif, in the game industry 10 years, helped develop the mobile game "Fort Courage" as chief operating officer of Human Head Studios. Grimm Bros wants to meld twisted versions of classic fairy tales with black humor and artwork.

Q: When did you start Grimm Bros?

A: My business partner, Randis Albion, who lives in Bangkok, and I started in November 2012 but didn't officially launch until February.

Q: What about startup money?

A: We've raised about $500,000, which includes sweat equity as well as contributions from family and ourselves and a California angel investor who's an industry veteran.

Q: What's the business do?

A: Nobody in the game industry is really doing the old fairy tales very well. So we're taking them and making them for adults, as opposed to children the way Disney does. Think "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" meets the original "Evil Dead." We want to pay homage to the brothers Grimm.

Q: Will the games be online primarily?

A: We're thinking online, downloadable, for PCs and tablets, but we also think it would make a beautiful box product.

Q: What's the biggest challenge you've faced to date?

A: Getting the word out. We went to Pax Prime [in Seattle] earlier this month. It's the only convention for gamers, by gamers. We have a small marketing budget. Part of the problem is we have a game in progress, so there are pros and cons to showing something too soon. The second-most-important challenge is talent and the third is finances.

Q: When is your first game coming out?

A: We just announced it at Pax Prime, and the game is "DragonFinSoup." The name is inspired by an actual fairy tale called "Cold Stone Soup." Our game is set in this world, and each time you visit, it's a little different, and each character is deeply flawed and has a completely unique story line. We plan to ship our game with a couple of characters you can play with but then add new characters. We're looking to launch in the spring/summer of 2014.

Q: What will consumers pay?

A: It depends on the level of content. It's probably going to be somewhere between $15 and $20.

Q: How many employees?

A: We have about six paid employees.

Q: You recently relocated here from San Francisco. Why?

A: I've found the startup culture to be much more collaborative and supportive and casual than in Silicon Valley. Also, my wife's family is in York.

Q: What's next?

A: We will be doing a [user test by invitation] for DragonFinSoup, reaching out to a mailing list and having people sign up through a website.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness

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