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VIDEO GAMES

The independent imagination

Insomniac guards its freedom, refusing offers despite rising costs. Ties with Sony help.

November 26, 2007|Alex Pham | Times Staff Writer

"What strikes me most about Insomniac is how much they haven't changed," Keighley said. "The Ted Price I met 12 years ago is largely the same one I know now. They're surprisingly unaffected by everything that goes on around them. So many game companies are out hustling big movie deals. These guys just want to make games. They're just very pure in their intent."

Price exudes the same Eagle Scout's optimism he did five years ago. He also bears the eagerness of someone who can't quite believe he's able to make video games for a living.

Price founded the company in 1994 with $30,000 from his savings and got help from Alex Hastings, a fellow graduate of Princeton University. The two later brought in Hastings' older brother, Brian. It was possible then to create a splash in the video game industry with such modest resources.

The trio created a demo that earned them a contract to make their first title, a shooting game called "Disruptor." It sold about 200,000 copies -- not great, but not shabby.

Their second game, "Spyro the Dragon," featuring a kid-friendly purple dragon, was a runaway hit. From 1998 to 2000, the studio created three games based on Spyro, with sales approaching 12 million copies.

In 2002, the team created "Ratchet & Clank," about a furry yellow creature and his robot sidekick. That franchise has sold more than 12 million copies, not counting the latest installment, which went on sale Oct. 30.

Insomniac took a different tack last year, when it released a darker, more mature game called "Resistance: Fall of Man," which became one of the best-selling games for the PS3.

When asked what's next, Brian Hastings, now chief creative officer, hinted at a new franchise for which Insomniac, and not Sony, would own the intellectual property.

"We want to keep on creating new things," he said. "And we want to be able to control what we create."

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alex.pham@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Action figures

Insomniac Games launched in 1998 with a game based on a kid-friendly purple dragon named Spyro. Since then, the studio's games have sold more than 26 million copies. Here are some of its biggest hits, with the number of titles sold:

Spyro the Dragon series

"Spyro the Dragon" (1998): 4,832,145

"Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage" (1999): 3,451,064

"Spryo: Year of the Dragon" (2000): 3,283,077

Ratchet & Clank series

(Sales through June 30, 2007)

"Ratchet & Clank" (2002): 3,714,266

"Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando" (2003): 2,966,758

"Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal" (2004): 3,218,932

"Ratchet Deadlocked" (2005): 2,169,858

"Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction" (Released Oct. 30): No sales data available

"Resistance: Fall of Man"

(Sales through Sept. 30) 2,121,772

Sources: Insomniac Games, Sony Corp.

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