Wizards of the Coast announced earlier this week that James Ohlen, a former veteran BioWare game designer, will be the founder of a new game studio based in Austin, Texas. This development team, currently unnamed, will be dedicated to building a new Wizards of the Coast IP beyond the exceedingly well-known and loved Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering brands.
James Ohlen said in a statement:
I didn’t think that I would be coming back to the game industry so soon but working with Wizards is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our mutual love of RPGs, world-building, and interactive storytelling is a perfect match.
Chris Cocks, President of Wizards of the Coast, added:
We’re extremely excited to have someone like James join the team at such a critical time in Wizards’ evolution. James brings experience in creative direction and studio leadership that will prove important as we look to develop compelling new experiences that engage gamers all over the world.
As you might recall, James Ohlen had left BioWare in July 2018 to undertake a peculiar project, the development of an adventure book for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (Odyssey of the Dragonlords, now on a Kickstarter campaign for crowdfunding). While at BioWare, his credits include working on the two Baldur's Gate games, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Dragon Age: Origins and Star Wars: The Old Republic (where he served as the game's Creative Director).
In a brief email chat with Chris Cocks, the folks at GamesBeat were able to pry a few more details out of the Wizards of the Coast boss on why the studio will focus specifically on new IPs.
We think that we’ve been uniquely successful because we’ve developed franchises that endure. We want to continue to build off the strength of those brands and develop new content and experiences that will allow fans to experience them in many more ways.
At the same time, it’s important to us that we also empower our creators to pursue their passions. We’re driven by innovation and creativity, and so is James, so we’re looking forward to the new worlds we can build together and share with our community.
The project is barely just getting started, anyway, and Ohlen won't even begin working there until next week. It may be a long wait until the game's reveal, but you can be sure to find everything out on Wccftech when it finally happens.