ArenaNet, Undead Labs Founder Jeff Strain Opens New Studio
Industry veteran Jeff Strain has opened Possibility Space, a new game development studio embracing remote work to draw on talent from around the world.
Strain is a former Blizzard developer, having co-founded ArenaNet, the studio behind Guild Wars, over 20 years ago. He also founded Undead Labs, the studio behind State of Decay that Microsoft acquired in 2018. Possibility Space has already gathered up some impressive talent, too, featuring former developers from Campo Santo, Ubisoft, Insomniac, Double Fine, BioWare, EA, and more.
“We felt this was the right time to create something new – a studio built from the ground up to embrace evolving needs and perspectives for both players and developers,” Strain writes in a press release. “Like many others, the past year and a half has been a fraught time for me. While I am grateful that my family is safe, the anxiety, fear, and isolation of the last 18 months has been almost unbearable at times. That fear and isolation was the catalyst for Possibility Space, a modern kind of game studio, where we are creating a joyful game that’s been my dream for many years.”
That COVID-19-related anxiety also seemingly inspired Strain to make Possibility Space a “distributed game development studio” that allows “developers to live and work wherever they want.” While the company welcomes remote work, Possibility Space will be based in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Some of the talent joining Strain at Possibility Space includes Firewatch’s former lead environment artist, Jane Ng, who also served as an artist on Half-Life: Alyx. Ng is Possibility Space’s visual director. Liz England, who previously worked as the lead designer of Watch Dogs: Legion and on Sunset Overdrive, will join the studio as its narrative systems design director. Making the jump from games media to game development, former Waypoint editor-in-chief Austin Walker will work as Possibility Space’s IP director.
Beyond its commitment to remote work, which opens the doors to developers worldwide, Possibility Space also aims to serve underserved communities where its developers might reside.
“[Possibilty Space] is built from the ground up as a distributed studio, allowing staff to live where they want to live and work where they want while supporting the communities they love,” a press release about the studio reads. “Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, the studio also works to identify, mentor, train, and hire individuals from underserved and overlooked communities and backgrounds.”
Today’s news comes two months after Strain called for the gaming industry to unionize in light of the ongoing lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, citing that “enough is enough.” In the open letter where Strain said this, he also said that he welcomes his own employees to unionize and that they have his “full endorsement.”
Are you excited to see what Possibility Space is cooking up? Let us know in the comments below!