Three former Blizzard leads have formed a new AAA studio, Magic Soup Games.
Jen Oneal, J. Allen Brack and John Donham each had senior roles at Blizzard, among other studios, over the course of their careers.
In a statement, the trio said that Magic Soup will see them “drawing on decades of experience to build original AAA games that are genuinely uplifting and inclusive for players around the world”.
Oneal, who is the studio’s CEO, said: “J, John, and I have similar ideas about the types of games we want to make, and we’re tightly aligned on company goals and principles, so this was a natural fit for us.
“We know the quality of our games will be a reflection of our team culture. We’re doing the work up front to make sure we’re fostering creativity, fully remote collaboration, and a diversity of backgrounds.”
Between them, the trio have worked on and led the teams behind such franchises as World of Warcraft, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, EverQuest, Diablo and Skylanders.
Brack was president of Blizzard until it was announced in August 2021 that he would be leaving the company “to pursue new opportunities”.
He was one of the few Activision Blizzard employees referred to by name in a 2021 lawsuit by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which accused the company’s HR personnel and executives including Brack of failing to handle sexual harassment and discrimination against female employees.
Brack was replaced by Oneal and Mike Ybarra, who were appointed as the studio’s co-leaders, but Oneal then left just a couple of months later, claiming she was only offered equal pay with her male counterpart Ybarra after giving her resignation.
“Jen has great experience as a team builder, culture driver, and game maker,” Brack said in a separate statement. “John and I are thrilled that she’s helming the company.
“John has decades of experience in both games and startups, and will run operations. I’m excited to wake up every day and focus on game development with the team. The three of us look forward to the kinds of games and teams we’ll build in the coming years.”