ArenaNet co-founder Mike O’Brien leaves to form new studio

ArenaNet president Mike O’Brien has left the studio he helped co-found to “make small games again”.

“In the summer of 2000, Pat, Jeff, Brett, Brandon, Gaile, Josh and I worked out of the living room of my apartment,” O’Brien said in a farewell message on the official Guild Wars 2 blog. “We dreamed of mixing role-playing and strategy, of delivering a constant stream of new content into an online world, and of doing it with a friendlier business model than we’d seen before. That first summer we didn’t have much but we had a great team, and built the beginnings of what became Guild Wars and ArenaNet.

“We couldn’t have known then the extent of the journey we were embarking on or all the wonderful and talented people who would join us along the way,” he added. “For the past two decades we’ve gotten to work with brilliant developers and advisors, we’ve enjoyed an amazing relationship with the Guild Wars community, and were able to pursue the games of our dreams.

“I’ve appreciated every moment of it. But the time has come for me to take a step back. Next week I’ll join some of my friends in forming a new studio. We’ll go back to the beginning and make small games again.”

“It’s been an honour to work beside you all these years,” he concluded, addressing his colleagues are ArenaNet. “You’re a team of artisans, sweating the details, putting your personal touches on everything this studio ships, even through seven retail releases and 80 episodes. You make games because you love the games… We’ve had amazing adventures together. It’s been the journey of a lifetime, and I’ll always carry your passion with me.”

“I want to personally wish Mike the very best in whatever is next for him,” said Mike Zadorojny, game director of Guild Wars 2. “Though he is leaving the studio, his presence and legacy will always be a part of the team, and I am going to make sure I do everything I can to keep the torch he passed me burning brightly into the future, both for the Guild Wars franchise and ArenaNet itself. I am looking forward to continuing this journey with all of you.”

NCSoft announced in February it would be making “staff reductions” at ArenaNet. An email sent to ArenaNet employees from NCSoft’s CEO Songyee Yoon said: “Our live game business revenue is declining as our franchises age, delays in development on PC and mobile have created further drains against our revenue projects, while our operating costs in the west have increased. Where we are is not sustainable, and is not going to set us up for future success.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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