Magic Soup Games is founded by ex-Blizzard executives Jen Oneal, J Allen Brack and John Donham
Now Here is an interesting collaboration. Yes, it’s another “ex-Blizzard guys start a new studio and investors give them tons of money” studio, but it’s the special people that make this story interesting: it’s Jen Oneal, J Allen Brack, and John Donham. They teamed up to create Magic Soup Games.
Brack naturally succeeded Mike Morhaime as Blizzard’s president before being ousted by Activision as the apparent scapegoat for Activision-Blizzard’s outrageous sexual harassment and discrimination scandal.
Brack was succeeded by two co-leads, including Jen Oneal, who was with Activision for two decades before rising to the helm of Vicarious Visions and then Blizzard. Unfortunately, ABK’s bungling over tokenism, pay and discrimination led to her resigning a few months later, citing (among other things) the sexual harassment she herself has faced over the years. She becomes CEO of the new company.
And John Donham is probably best known to MMORPG players for his long tenure at SOE, where he mentored the likes of EverQuest, PlanetSideAnd Star Wars galaxies, although of course he’s also served as an executive at Blizzard and Amazon. My god, he even worked on Raph Koster meta place.
The other thing that makes this unusual is that the “investors” here are…them three; VentureBeat says “the trio self-funded the new studio to maintain creative independence.” The article on VentureBeat shows them all in cooking outfits with silly cooking titles and plays up the soup theme.
Of course we don’t know that they necessarily build an MMO. The official website states that the developers are “creating massive games that make you feel good”), and the vacancy for server engineers and concept artists specifically mentions an “upcoming multiplayer game” set in a “new IP”. Yes, you just saw the words “Massive” and “Multiplayer”! More broadly, the studio aims to “develop original AAA games that are truly uplifting and inclusive for players around the world.” Don’t expect anything any time soon, however, as the studio currently only has five employees as it begins to ramp up. Here’s Oneal on the subject:
“It’s still too early to discuss the details. But the spirit is that we will draw on our experience building Triple-A games and Triple-A teams to create something that brings out the best in people and celebrates the positive power this medium expresses can. We’re working on something that doesn’t fit into any existing genre today.”
“I’m also passionate about building a diverse and inclusive company, and it fills me to create something from the ground up where that’s a core principle from day one,” she continues, and it’s hard to imagine that she doesn’t look sharp at ABK like she says it does.
In fact, VentureBeat asks both Brack and Oneal about their experiences at Blizzard. Oneal says the team and their mentees made it difficult to leave, while Brack says he was already struggling with “vision differences at Activision-Blizzard” before he left. “I still believe that Blizzard can once again become a creative haven with a positive culture for all employees, and I know there are a lot of good people pouring their energy into that,” says Brack.
“I’m so grateful that J. and I stayed in touch,” Oneal says, as if to explain how she came to start a business with someone she replaced under unusual circumstances. “That was part of the journey, feeling like we’re going through this big change together. We bonded over our love of game development and realized that together we could build the company we’ve always wanted to do, with the kind of team we’ve always wanted to work with.”
https://massivelyop.com/2023/03/16/ex-blizzard-execs-jen-oneal-j-allen-brack-and-john-donham-form-magic-soup-games/ Magic Soup Games is founded by ex-Blizzard executives Jen Oneal, J Allen Brack and John Donham