Blizzard veterans J. Allen Brack, Jen Oneal, and John Donham have teamed up to create Magic Soup Games, a fully-remote game studio dedicated to creating “massive AAA games that have positive themes.”
The trio together have decades of experience working at Activision Blizzard. Brack worked at Blizzard for nearly 16 years, including three years as Blizzard president. He departed the company amidst controversy surrounding a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit that alleged a “frat boy” workplace culture at the studio. Oneal worked at Activision Blizzard for nearly 20 years and led Activision studio Vicarious Visions before a brief stint as co-leader of Blizzard following Brack’s departure. She stayed in that role for just three months before also leaving the company, a move that sparked its own controversy. Donham worked at Blizzard for a little over a year starting in 2019 as its chief of staff and vice president of special projects.
At Magic Soup, Oneal will step into the role of CEO, while Brack will lead game development and Donham will oversee operations. The trio aren’t disclosing what the studio’s first game will be, but in a Q&A with VentureBeat, Brack said the studio is aiming to make “AAA games that have positive themes, and to work with people who deeply understand and enjoy the craft of game creation.” The studio’s first game will additionally be something that “doesn’t fit neatly into any existing genre today,” according to Brack.
The studio currently has five employees which, in staying true to the studio’s culinary name, it calls “chefs.” Brack said the name Magic Soup comes from the idea that making games is a lot like making soup, in that they both take a lot of time, iteration, and ingredients, and each require lots of tasting and testing to get right.
When asked about leaving Blizzard under “tough circumstances,” Brack said he has reflected on his role in driving cultural change and has spent time “listening and reading many personal accounts and opinions about the things that should have been better.” For Oneal, she said “it was very difficult to leave,” but remains committed to furthering diversity initiatives both inside and outside gaming.
Magic Soup joins a long list of studios formed by prominent ex-Blizzard developers in recent years, including Second Dinner, Frost Giant, and most recently, Gas Giant Games.
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