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Former Blizzard Leaders Form Magic Soup Games, Goal to Create AAA Games

Former Blizzard Leaders Form Magic Soup Games, Goal to Create AAA Games - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 15 March 2023 / 2,263 Views

Blizzard veterans J. Allen Brack, Jen Oneal, and John Donham have formed a new video game studio called Magic Soup Games.

Oneal will be the CEO of Magic Soup Games, Brack will be game development lead, and Donham will oversee operations.

"We want to make massive triple-A games that have positive themes, and to work with people who deeply understand and enjoy the craft of game creation, said Brack in a Q&A with VentureBeat. "We also want a high-performing team that brings together many backgrounds and perspectives to build super-fun games. And, importantly, we will be driven daily by our values, particularly being gritty, hungry, and humble."

Donham added, "Our pitch is to join us if you want to work on a massive, inspiring triple-A game, in a fully remote work environment, driven daily by our values. From the start, we are creating an environment where underrepresented developers can do their best work."

Oneal stated, "It’s too early to discuss the details. But the spirit is that we will lean on our experience building triple-A games and triple-A teams to create something that brings out the best in people, that celebrates the positive power of what this medium can express. We’re working on something that doesn’t fit neatly into any existing genre today."

Former Blizzard Leader Form Magic Soup Games, Goal to Create AAA Games

Brack worked at Blizzard for over 15 years, including nearly three years as President from 2018 to 2021 before leaving the company. He has also worked at Sony Online Entertainment and Electronic Arts.

Oneal spent nearly 20 years at Activision Blizzard with most of those years at Vicarious Visions as a Studio Head and Senior Executive Producer. She has also worked at LucasArts, as a Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York board member, and more.

Donham worked at Blizzard as the Chief of Staff & VP Special Projects for just over a year and has also worked at Amazon Games, Sony Online Entertainment, and more.

A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012 and taking over the hardware estimates in 2017. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel. You can contact the author on Twitter @TrunksWD.

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KratosLives (5 days ago)

Well that's good news

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DonFerrari (6 days ago)

Seems like a good core team. And two new studios from Blizzard vets, curious.

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J. Allen Brack automatically has me stepping back lol

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Azzanation (on 16 March 2023)

Unfortunately these things never work out.

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Strange, didn't Treyarch veterans form a studio and partnered with Sony, other CoD veterans had also opened a studio that made Titanfall worked fine. There were also firesprite and some others.

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Chazore DonFerrari (6 days ago)

Yeah, but Respawn claimed they wanted "independence" from publishers, and then a few years after Titanfall 2 being crowned in between CoD and Battlefield, they got bought out by EA, the very publisher who told them to rush out TF2 when those two games released, so they more or less lost their independence in the end.

When you want to go out and make a studio, most of the time you're going to want to stay true to your own visions, which means you would naturally want to stay independence, not go out of your way to make a studio so it can look profitable to then be bought out by a publisher.

I can see why Azz made his comment, because we're at this day and age where we hear about a darling indie studio starting up, then some years later they are inevitably bought out by a big publisher and told to work on projects that aren't of their own creation (like the Spellbreak studio being bought out by Activision to work on WoW with Blizzard).

I can easily see this studio and the others that split off from Blizz, being bought out by Tencent, Epic, Sony or even MS, but likely not Blizzard/Activsion.

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DonFerrari Chazore (6 days ago)

He gave zero details or context to his affirmation, so if he only mean that these studios won't keep independent (not that they claimed anything on these lines) ok, but I take as the idea of veterans opening a new studio not working out and on that example we have a lot of good ones that worked out like Kojima as well.

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Chazore DonFerrari (5 days ago)

And yet I knew what he was on about, because I've seen these scenarios play out before.

Indie company starts up, makes game ppl like, get's bought out, becomes another cog in the machine.

Sometimes the opposite is true, where they make a game, stay independent and keep going, but sometimes as well, they eventually get bought out in that scenario as well.

I want these studios to remain as they are on their own, but the current field of the industry today doesn't allow that to stay as such for more than 5-10yrs, because by then, either said company standing alone gets bought out or they just fizzle out.

Look at the veterans that are the remaining half of Westwood studios, Petroglyph, they are still alive to this day, but they aren't remotely the same as they once were when they were making C&C games as a whole team.

The other half that was left was absorbed into EA and became EA LA, but that wasn't by choice, EA bought Westwood, and half decided they didn't want to be under EA's umbrella, so they formed Petro.

Respawn also claimed they wanted to be on their own, but EA funnily enough, set them up to act as cannon fodder against Activision with CoD, using Titanfall 1-2 (MS also used the exclusive contract as a means when Sony was getting the CoD deals if you remember).

Publishers don't really want these studios to remain as they are, because they could form contracts with competing publishers or consoles, so the best option for them is to simply buy them out and absorb them, like how a big fish will eat the smaller fish.

Sorry for the long text wall btw.

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DonFerrari Chazore (5 days ago)

No need to be sorry, it was great content. And yes as a studio having to fetch contract after contract with publishers it is a lot harder than being bought by a publisher or platform holder. As small Indie that may be a little more sustainable since there is very few people to decide and worry.

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mjk45 DonFerrari (5 days ago)

You are right about it being hard if you are independent and want to remain so without being under the pressure of living contract to contract without ever getting ahead of a situation where even a better deal arising from say the fulfilment of a successful contract comes with having to spending many more years working for the man .
Unless you end up in a situation where you tick the boxes of IP ownership, enough future demand going forward and profitability. your studio most likely will end up be at the beck and call off some one else especially new studios who are in many cases forced to sell IP ownership in return for funding, or end up in a situation where the possibilities of becoming a workshop for a publisher, being bought out or closed down are real unless you are one of the few who came up with a good game that sells well and had arranged to keep your IP.
Its hard to be independent in this day especially at AA level we just need to go back through VGChartz and look at all the articles of those that left successful studios to create or join new studios and there has been some greats amongst them and see how many have done well.

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tslog (on 15 March 2023)

Xbox buying Blizzard after many of their (possibly) best developers have already left. 🤣. So much for all those billions spent, when a lot of talent is gone.

I’m 99% for this deal, but losing good dev’s in this situation is bad for Xbox & Blizzard.
You can’t just replace good developers.

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CaptainExplosion tslog (on 15 March 2023)

But that's not to say you can't train new developers with their own things to bring to the table.

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Azzanation tslog (on 15 March 2023)

You can replace good devs. Stars are always born. Sometimes fresh new faces can make changes for the better. Its not like Blizzard is doing extremly well for themselves as of late.

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DonFerrari tslog (6 days ago)

They want to buy mostly for the IPs than anything else.

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Yes, the IPs are important. Thats brand power. You can always rehire to fill shoes.

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Chazore tslog (6 days ago)

New talent can exist though?.

it's weird to think that only vet devs can exist in the industry and no new talent arising to take the mantle.

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Garrus (on 15 March 2023)

"Celebrates positivity, driven daily by our values, we're gritty, and humble, where under-represented developers can work." - paraphrased

Sounds like a word salad and a horrible place to work imo. You can tell it was made by former executives. Remote work only company. Gotta get that VC money for retirement.

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