Mike O’Brien is leaving ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 to form a new studio

    
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ArenaNet President Mike O’Brien announced this afternoon that he is leaving ArenaNet, the studio behind MMORPG Guild Wars 2, to “join some of [his] friends in forming a new studio” – to “go back to the beginning and make small games again.”

While MO doesn’t expressly say who, if anyone, will be taking over as company president, he does indicate that Game Director Mike Zadorojny will assume a “larger leadership role.

“Two years ago, when I transitioned away from the Guild Wars 2 game director role to focus on new product development, I asked Mike Zadorojny to take on that role. Now as he takes on a larger leadership role, I am confident that ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 are in good hands. Z is a true champion of the Guild Wars franchise and of this studio’s values; he is the best person to continue carrying the torch at the company.”

MikeZ’s statement is also included in the farewell letter from MO.

“I took over the role of Game Director on Guild Wars 2 right after we launched Path of Fire. Assuming that role made me appreciate how passionate and amazing this community is, reminding me each day how important our work is. Since then we’ve aimed at making huge strides to the quality and cadence of content we’ve been adding to the game every year. I love the fans, I love this team and we’re all very excited for you to play the upcoming chapters of The Icebrood Saga. We’ve got some really fun content on the way. I want to personally wish Mike the very best in whatever is next for him. 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.”

MMORPG fans will recall that it’s been a bit of a rocky year for Guild Wars 2 and ArenaNet; last year, the studio was rocked by the firings of two employees who clashed with the community, while early this year the company was forced to downsize, shedding 143 employees in a mass-layoff that coincided with the cancellation of other titles. Guild Wars 2, however, carried on; most recently, it launched the first leg of its fifth season of new content.

Update
Reddit has identified the new company under MO’s command as ManaWorks – MMO players will recognize several familiar names in there, including Isaiah Cartwright, who’s more or less confirmed his involvement.
Update
We inquired with ArenaNet this afternoon about MikeZ’s title and who specifically would be replacing MO as president of ArenaNet – we’d speculated that NCsoft might be taking more of a hand in the company. We also asked who else might be leaving from the top levels of Anet. Here is the studio’s formal comment on all that:

“Mike Zadorojny will continue to oversee Guild Wars 2 at ArenaNet, while NCSOFT West Chief Development Officer Chris Corry will continue in his role managing all western development efforts at the company.”

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Michram142

For the record: Mike O’Brien was not Guild Wars 2’s director for a few years now and he became silent since he was leading Arenanet, and Mike Zadorojny leads GW2 since Path of Fire.

Nothing will change for Guild Wars 2, since Mike O’Brien worked on the projects rather than on Arenanet’s main game: Guild Wars 2 – so basically that’s good news if we take into account the future of Guild Wars 2.

But it is almost certain that Arenanet will simply focus on Guild Wars 2 in its entirety. At least for now, since ANet will likely need few years to recover from the cancellation of unannounced games.

So basically they will use this massive vehicle that Guild Wars 2 is, to also have resources on other games.

About time he resigned and I am happy for Mike Z.

There is hope Z. can make Guild Wars 2 cool once more.

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Matthäus Wey

“Nothing will change for Guild Wars 2” I mean yea kinda but also no I guess? They put an NCSoft person in the position now and that can mean anything from no changes at all to full gem-store focus.

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Michram142

Guild Wars 2 has had for quite a long time a gemstore update every Tuesday.

I think we won’t feel any change in this regard that will make anything problematic, since most of the players are fine with weekly Gemstore updates.

Nothing’s going to change.

Also Mike Zadorojny took over the lead of Arenanet, so it’s even better, since he truly cares about everything GW2 and quality.

That’s the path of earning money they chose many, many years ago.

Guild Wars 2 is an amazing game, and still going strong despite the struggles. I believe in those wise words: Per aspera ad astra.

2019 was hell for Anet, GW2, community. Mike O did good to move on, since his project that he worked on since 2017 failed completely and made Arenanet lose so many people.

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Matthäus Wey

Not sure about that because

Mike Zadorojny will continue to oversee Guild Wars 2 at ArenaNet, while NCSOFT West Chief Development Officer Chris Corry will continue in his role managing all western development efforts at the company.”

He is head of Gw2, not of anet as far as I understand. NCSoft has terribly managed Lineage in the west and they are in charge of anet now so saying nothing will change seems nonsensical to me (not that it has to but I wouldn’t rule it out by any means). Even if they stick to gemstore update cadence doesn’t mean that they won’t cut costs on the gw2 development side while retaining efforts to monetize the game in even more ways.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

How did that project fail exactly? He left so he could form an independent studio with other x-Anet peeps to work on it. Pretty much how Anet was formed (by MO and co.) over 18 years ago.

That project had nothing to do with NCSoft dropping the hammer on the studio this year, and everything to do with SOP for NCSoft when they want to exert more control over their studios.

micedicetwice
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micedicetwice

For the record: Mike O’Brien was not Guild Wars 2’s director for a few years now and he became silent since he was leading Arenanet, and Mike Zadorojny leads GW2 since Path of Fire.

For the record it’s exactly when things went south: season 4 became grindy as hell, raids too easy and too rare to keep hardcore people in the game, expansions were abandoned for a while (hence we don’t have one now, after 2 years since PoF), broken promises about faster living world shipping, third of the studio were fired, PR scandal after PR scandal, I can go on. So yeah, nothing will change to the best for this game, living story 2 hours long episode every few months and that’s that. Oh, and lots of gemstore updates! \o/

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Baemir

I’m not sure GW2 is really a “massive vehicle” for getting revenue anymore.

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Nate Woodard

I don’t know whether the guy had all to do or nothing to do with the current state of the game or the design philosophies going into GW2, but I’m of the opinion that it needs to change. Whether MO leaving will be a good thing or a bad thing, time will tell. That being said, the guy has been with ArenaNet since the early days of Guild Wars long before GW2 was ever thought of and for that he gets a solute from me. Thanks for your hard work and dedication to Guild Wars and good luck in your future endeavors. Yep. That’s about it.

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Michram142

Nothing will change, since he wasn’t working on Guild Wars 2 since 2017.

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Hikari Kenzaki

This was always what it was going to be. His job no longer existed once they moved ArenaNet structurally under NCSoft West.

” while NCSOFT West Chief Development Officer Chris Corry will continue in his role managing all western development efforts at the company”

Restructuring 101… redundant employees get the boot on day 1, redundant executives get 2 months to transition out so they don’t sue us.

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Utakata

Like Ghostcrawler before him, I suspect some will miss this guy and others with celebrate his departure. While a few (including myself) will acknowledge the good and bad of his tenure. Still sad to see the old shoe go though. /sigh

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Jim Bergevin Jr

Why do I have that sinking feeling. That same one when I read the announcement that the Good Doctors were leaving BioWare. While I most certainly don’t agree with what Anet had done since the initial announcement of GW2, and despite some of the people still there from the original team, like MO, the Anet of today, really isn’t the same company that produced the original (and superior) Guild Wars.

It was my understanding that Anet had a lot of autonomy over the years, but the layoffs and cancellations initiated by NCSoft earlier this year left that in doubt. Makes me wonder about the future of both games here – it seems that NCSoft doesn’t like having a lot of side projects going on at ANet.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

https://kotaku.com/source-departing-arenanet-president-was-working-on-pot-1838755217

Interesting piece on Kotaku. Apparently they caught wind of this much earlier and MO is leaving with a small handful of folks who were working on pre-production for Guild Wars 3.

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Arktouros

To be honest this was what I was kinda hoping for ANet and Guild Wars. The Dragon thing was kinda done story wise. We had our big victory (base game), then our shocking revelations (HOT), then our big challenges (POF), then more or less our resolution (LS). Saga seems more like GW1: Beyond.

They could transition more towards a Destiny/Anthem/Division style model where they put out a base game, release a few DLC/expansions with one big narrative story, then look to a new game after a few years.

Instead now it feels like it’s going to end up like one of the older MMOs like UO or DAOC where it’s still technically running but really no one cares.

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Father Xmas

I see is as LW 4 and then 5 as a delaying tactic as ANet reorgs their development team before they decide on a expansion or another LW/Saga season. We will just have to sit back and wait to see which way it’ll go.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

I think Izzy bouncing is the more impactful news for the game itself. that dude was responsible for so, so much of why that game is the way it is.

Pouring one out for ArenaNet right now.

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rafael12104

Hmm. Interesting. Not sure about the impact here. MO had been around for a long time. But sometimes new blood re-invigorates game management.

We will see.

Oh please don’t let NCsoft Korea take over GW2. PLEASE!

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Bruno Brito

“New” is a bit of a stretch, Mike Z worked for GW for a while already.

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rafael12104

Fair enough. Let’s go with different.

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Baemir

Hope his new studio comes up with a new MMO.

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Toy Clown

Some people came into our ArcheAge discord today, saying they were looking to swap from GW2 to AA and would be bringing their guild. I had no idea what they were on about, but now I know.

While I stopped playing GW2, I used to love it, but more games came out with features I enjoyed more. I just love my sandbox gameplay and GW2 didn’t have it, coupled with having to buy those stones to change the looks of one outfit piece lost me. I love changing outfits too much and that hit hard. ><

Anyway! I hope the best for GW2.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

Why would people want to go from a PVE game to a P2W PVP Gank Box, the sand box elements sound kind of cool I guess but the PVP is a real turn off.

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Baemir

I mean, it’s a turn off for you, not for everyone.