Frontier Developments CEO steps down after almost 30 years

David Braben will vacate the CEO position of the Elite Dangerous and Jurassic World Evolution studio as Chief Creative Officer Jonny Watts steps up.


Big news coming out of Frontier Developments as the leadership within the studio that brought us Elite Dangerous, Planet Coaster, and Jurassic World Evolution shifts and changes. David Braben has been in the CEO role at Frontier for around 28 years, but he will be stepping down from the position, allowing Chief Creative Officer Jonny Watts to take over the role. Braben will still stay with the company following the shift.

Frontier Developments announced the leadership change and Braben’s exit from the CEO role in a press release on August 10, 2022. According to the release, Braben will be moving from the CEO position at Frontier to a new role as President and founder of the studio. He will also remain on the Board of Directors with Frontier Developments. Jonny Watts’ move into the CEO position at Frontier Developments comes after 10 years serving in the Chief Creative Officer role with the company. The shift in leadership is effective as of August 10, 2022, and kicks off what Frontier Developments is calling “the next phase of the Company's evolution.”

A face shot of Frontier Developments founder and former CEO David Braben.
David Braben founded Frontier Developments and has overseen the developer's operations for nearly 30 years.
Source: Frontier Developments

Braben’s tenure with Frontier Developments has been incredibly long. The former CEO founded the studio and led its operations for 28 years. That includes overseeing the success of the Elite Dangerous series (minus the stumble in Odyssey), as well as the Planet Coaster, Planet Zoo, and Jurassic World Evolution business management games. It also includes launching an indie-focused publishing arm in the form of Frontier Foundry, from which games like Lemnis Gate and FAR: Changing Tides have come out. That said, with Watts having been along for the ride in much of that same success, it seems like someone very familiar with the company and its success and stumbles is taking up the CEO reins.

It will be interesting to see what the “next phase of the Company's evolution” turns out to be under Jonny Watts’ leadership as Braben exits the role. Stay tuned as we continue to cover Frontier Developments and all games coming out of it.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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