Wizards of the Coast Opening New Austin Studio
Gaming mega-brand opening Austin studio under veteran director
By Richard Whittaker,
3:00PM, Thu. Apr. 25, 2019
Big news for gamers: Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Magic: The Gathering is coming to Austin. They'll be opening a new game development studio, and they've brought in James Ohlen – formerly creative director on the Baldur's Gate franchise and Dragon Age: Origins – to head up the team.
Founded in 1990, WotC has become a powerhouse in the lucrative world of collectible card games, as well as tabletop figure-based games (the massively successful Star Wars Miniatures), plus board games through its Avalon Hill subsidiary, and it's the current publisher of Dungeons & Dragons. However, it made the announcement today via Twitter that the gaming institution is taking its biggest step yet into video game development with a whole new office dedicated to developing new properties. The firm already successfully experimented with online play with three Magic spin-offs (Magic: The Gathering Online, Magic Duels, and Magic: The Gathering Arena), but this is their first move into the console market.
As for Ohlen, he has been a fixture on the Austin game development scene since 2006, when he launched BioWare Austin: their first title, Star Wars: The Old Republic arrived in 2011, and after a rough few early years, the MMORPG is still going. However, Ohlen himself had seemingly left video game development: Last year, he departed from BioWare to establish his own tabletop gaming company, Arcanum Worlds, which is currently working on its debut sourcebook, Odyssey of the Dragonlords (coincidentally compatible with WotC's recent D&D fifth edition rule system).
The big unanswered question is what Ohlen and the new team will be working on – because whatever it is, it's won't be either of WotC's most recognizable IPs. In an email to Venturebeat, Wizards president Chris Cocks wrote, "We think James is the perfect choice to build new brands outside of our core franchises – Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering."