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Kixeye HQ

The bunker

Armed security

In development

Titles on the horizon

Backyard icons

Concept art

Kixeye's recruitment satire

The waiting room at Kixeye's headquarters on Bush Street in downtown San Francisco.

Just two years ago, the company had just rebranded, changing its name from Casual Collective. Now it has more than 500 employees, a slew of international offices, and last year it posted its first nine-figure revenue.

The company now commands five floors of the building, filling every corner not taken up by a computer with memorabilia and old-school arcade machines.

Caption by / Photo by Kixeye

Kixeye fashioned its company site, including the bios and photos of each top executive, after a supervillain's underground lair. It went one step further when designing its new headquarters in downtown San Francisco by turning the elevator waiting room into an ominous hallway filled with glowing red lights that employees call the Kixeye Death Star.

Not only does the room resemble something out of an amusement park ride's themed interior, but it blasts military-oriented sound bites through large speakers overhead, making getting off the elevator with unsuspecting riders a comical activity.

Caption by / Photo by Kixeye

At its previous office, Kixeye would get visits from what were described as "super passionate players." Because the elevators opened directly onto the main office floor and visitors were eager to talk to CEO Will Harbin and various Kixeye producers, the company deemed the situation a security risk.

That's why a fully armed guard now mans the elevators and checks in and out everyone who comes through Kixeye's space.

Caption by / Photo by Kixeye

Kixeye currently has five active titles -- Backyard Monsters, War Commander, Battle Pirates, Vega Conflict, and Tome. But in moving to mobile with Backyard Monsters: Unleashed for iOS, the company is already planning a slew of new games for multiple platforms.

"Mobile is not the end all of be all to gaming platforms, which is why we're still doing browser and PC download," CEO Will Harbin admits, "because there are certain genres that will not work and there are certain genres that we simply want to make because we want to play them."

Caption by / Photo by Donna Tam/CNET

The next game in Kixeye's pipeline, Tome, is an in-browser title that it hopes can push the boundaries of what gamers think is graphically possible with Web-based gaming.

In the fashion of a MOBA, or a multiplayer online battle arena, Tome comes on the heels of titles like League of Legends that have set new heights for the success and fan dedication of games with free-to-play models.

Caption by / Photo by Donna Tam/CNET

Backyard Monsters, originally released in 2009 as a tower defense Facebook game, became a massive hit and established Kixeye, then called Casual Collective, as a gaming startup with massive potential.

Two years later -- after a rebranding of the company to Kixeye -- and Backyard Monsters is still a hit, with millions of monthly active users. It's become the company's flagship title, and its first mobile game for iOS. It's also the subject of many of the company's in-house toys and trophies.

Caption by / Photo by Donna Tam/CNET

The walls of Kixeye's five various floors are often filled with concept art or various swaths of game code and the musings of engineers struggling with software hurdles.

When they're not, the whiteboard sections can feature the elaborate doodlings of any of the various teams' concept artists, UI pros, and graphic designers.

Caption by / Photo by Donna Tam/CNET

CEO Will Harbin made a splash in the summer of 2012 when he showed up in Kixeye's satirical recruitment video that sunk its teeth into the likes of Zynga and Electronic Arts with comical exaggerations of each companies' executives. That included a young boy frothing at the mouth with profanity and sitting around a pile of money, a characterization meant to skewer the Farmville-creator Kixeye feels it's antithetical to.

The end of the video featured Harbin at his desk, outlining Kixeye's vision before pulling on a unicorn mask and climbing atop a helicopter's rope ladder. The mask is now a prominent fixture in the office.

Caption by / Photo by Donna Tam/CNET
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