Comment & Opinion

Thatgamecompany on what comes next for Sky: Children of the Light in 2024

Art Director, Cecil Kim shares on joining thatgamecompany and the journey from mobile to cross-platform for Sky: Children of the Light

Thatgamecompany on what comes next for Sky: Children of the Light in 2024

Sky: Children of the Light, the adventure game from the creators of Journey, was originally released on iOS in 2019 and then followed by releases on Android, Switch and PlayStation. Despite the game initially being somewhat of a sleeper hit, this expansion over various platforms has seen the game's audience grow, and with a PC launch on the horizon, there’s more yet to come.

We spoke with Art Director Cecil Kim from thatgamecompany to discuss the studio's plans for the year ahead, what we can expect to see from Sky next and the journey so far, such as smashing a Guinness world record at last year's Gamescom. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to thatgamecompany?

Cecil Kim: After graduating from the Art Center in 1996 with BFA, I was working at Imaginary Forces in Hollywood as a freelance illustrator and storyboard artist for feature films and commercials, but I needed a full-time opportunity.

I found that chance working as a storyboard artist at Square on Parasite Eve, developing concepts for gameplay levels and environments. I continued my work there on several other titles, including Final Fantasy IX, before moving to Santa Monica Studios as a visual development lead on the original God of War trilogy. I first met Jenova Chen at that studio while collaborating on Journey’s development.

In 2011, in search of something more artistic and personal, I left AAA development to start my own game design and art solutions company, Section Studios. One of our first book contracts was for thatgamecompany’s Journey art book, thanks to my personal connection to Jenova. Over my nine years at Section Studios, we grew a game development team and worked on several games, from casual games to real-time online strategy games, but decided to close the company after a difficult launch.

That was a big turning point for me – it cemented my desire to be a game designer at a studio with a strong artistic and creative vision. After a meeting with Jenova, I was impressed with Sky’s ambition and individuality, so I decided to join thatgamecompany and chase the next dream of my career.

Sky’s animation, sound and music are equivalent to AAA game quality.
Cecil Kim

Sky: Children of the Light was released first on mobile in 2019. What was your experience of the launch like?

Actually, I joined a couple of months after the release of Sky, so I wasn’t there to witness the excitement! But Sky was already getting a lot of support from the community and from fans of Journey since Sky was considered a creative successor. It was also awarded as the best iOS game in 2019 by Apple. It looked beautiful and felt very different compared to other mobile games. It was definitely a magical product you could carry in your hand and play wherever you wanted, so an iOS release allowed us to share that experience with a large and global audience.

Since then, the game has expanded beyond mobile and onto PlayStation and Nintendo Switch. There’s also a PC release on the horizon, what can you tell us about that?

Sky’s minimalist art style can still be appreciated on bigger screens. In my opinion, Sky’s animation, sound and music are equivalent to AAA game quality. It was our intention to launch it on mobile and eventually expand the community to console and PC gamers. The PC port has proved to be the most challenging project due to the technical requirements and necessary engineering work, so we saved that for last.

The timing is great, as we successfully launched our audience tech for Aurora Concert in Sky last year, which allows us to gather groups of thousands of players together beyond the usual eight players per session to play and interact with each other. Now, Sky holds a Guinness World Record for having 10,000 concurrent players on screen. We’re so excited to invite PC gamers to our unique online experience as we feature our multiplayer tech in even more innovative social gatherings.

We are all born with compassion and care for others in our hearts, so we don’t want to limit our players to a single platform.
Cecil Kim

How important is cross-platform gaming for thatgamecompany? Can we expect to see future titles rolling out across these various platforms?

We believe our games appeal to a wide audience regardless of platform. Our games have simple design mechanics but can create deep emotional connections between players. Not many games focus on emotional impact, which can help everyone feel calm, loved, and connected. We are all born with compassion and care for others in our hearts, so we don’t want to limit our players to a single platform.

Can you tell us anything about what the team is currently focused on? Is it more content for Sky or something else?

Sky has exciting new content for 2024. We are improving our user-generated content features to empower our players to express their creativity and foster deeper connections within the game. Audience tech is something we really worked hard on for a long time. We want to recreate the magic of thousands of players doing things together in the game! We’re also looking forward to making the Aviary into the premiere social hang-out space for our players.

And what about the future? Is there anything we should be on the lookout for?

We have a beautiful Sky art book, which covers eight years of development stories and the creative journeys the artists have been on. It will be released in Q2 of this year! Also, we have been working on our animation project, Sky: The Two Embers, which is also set to be released later this year. The world of Sky is filled with so much mystery and wonder, and we want to share the history of the world and the stories of characters through a creative animation format. I think our fans will love it!

Deputy Editor

Paige is the Deputy Editor on who, in the past, has worked in games journalism covering new releases, reviews and news. Coming from a multimedia background, she has dabbled in video editing, photography, graphic and web design! If she's not writing about the games industry, she can probably be found working through her ever-growing game backlog or buried in a good book.