Riot backs new studio founded by former World of Warcraft designer who was “unhappy with the state of the game”

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Chris Kaleiki, a former World of Warcraft game designer who said he was “dissatisfied with the state of the game” after leaving Blizzard Entertainment last year, announced the launch of a new business called Notorious Studios, supported by a few investors, one including the developer of League of Legends and Valorant Riot Games.

Riot’s investment in Notorious Studios was part of a $ 5 million injection that also includes venture capital funds Galaxy Interactive and 1Up Ventures, according to VentureBeat. Kaleiki said Riot’s decision to support the studio reflects a shared commitment to their players and communities.

“I think he’s a developer who also cares a lot about the player experience,” he told the site. “They have a franchise that players love. We have so many friends and colleagues who work at Riot, who used to work at Blizzard. I’ve always had a good view of them.”

Notorious Studios’ founding team, made up of eight people, is made up entirely of Blizzard veterans, all but one of whom have worked in WoW. similar to those he experienced at Blizzard.

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“After evaluating my options, it became apparent that a few of my dear colleagues at Blizzard that I have worked with [with] for years were looking for a similar next step in their own career, “he tweeted.” So we got together to do something crazy: start our own studio together. “

Kaleiki clarified that the cultural values ​​he was referring to were things like prioritizing “player experience,” a clarification that makes his statements a little less shocking in today’s context, but still dramatically disconnected. As we’ve learned since July, Blizzard’s “cultural values” would have fostered a work environment plagued by discrimination and sexual misconduct. A lawsuit in California and employee reports have resulted in the dismissal of several high-ranking employees, including former president J. Allen Brack and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft. Blizzard has also changed several names of NPCs and places in its games to remove references to attackers.

Kaleiki said the “challenges” Blizzard faced “have been truly disturbing. [and] hard to hear, “and said Notorious would have” no tolerance for harassment and things like that. “

“None of us are leaders or directors,” he said. “Previously in our careers we were all individual contributors. We were the ones who would build or code or fabricate art or design. We aspire to have this flatter structure where we don’t have a rigid hierarchy. Harassment usually comes from some sort of subordinate-superior relationship. Hopefully a flatter structure can resolve some of these issues. “

But the effectiveness of this system in practice is an open question. Valve is the most notable game development company to claim to have a philosophy of hierarchical flatness, but reports over the years have questioned whether Valve’s structure is really different from that of other companies. In 2013, former Valve hardware developer Jeri Ellsworth said the company’s flat structure actually contained a “powerful management hidden layer,” while in 2018 a former employee of a company Bellevue, Wash., based “self-organized” who is believed to be Valve said the structure encouraged ruthless internal politics.

Kaleiki didn’t say exactly what Notorious Studios will be doing on their first project, but did say in the intro video that “the key elements of the game stem from our shared passions as a team, which include the RPG fantasy of basic, multiplayer and combat gameplay. ” He was a bit more specific with VentureBeat, describing the project as a third-person multiplayer RPG, although it remains to be seen whether or not it will be a full MMO. At Twitter, Kaleiki said he hopes to be able to share more information about the game “as soon as possible.”



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