Ex-Blizzard designer Rob Pardo announces Bonfire Studios

The name typifies the team's desire to help 'friends to connect through our games and share amazing experiences.'


Seventeen-year Blizzard Entertainment veteran Rob Pardo announced Bonfire Studios this morning via a detailed post on Medium.

Pardo, one of several developers to hold the baton of lead designer during World of WarCraft's lengthy development period, says the studio's name speaks to the types of experiences its growing team hopes to create. "The bonfire is a metaphor for the experiences we wish to create. We want friends to connect through our games and share amazing experiences, tell the stories, and come closer together."

Bonfire could be more accurately described as multiple bonfires within the same campgrounds: other information from Pardo alludes to multiple, smaller projects rather than one team working on one project. "We believe you can create epic games with small teams of talented, self-driven game developers, where each team is deeply connected to their players and empowered to make the best decisions to evolve their game without bureaucracies, committees, or middle management in their way."

Pardo expanded on the events that led to Bonfire's formation in an interview with the New York Times. Instead of making a go of it on his own, he connected with partners who shared his vision. Those partners were League of Legends developer Riot Games and Andreessen Horowitz, a venture capital firm founded in 2009 by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz with an emphasis on helping promising technology endeavors get off the ground.

The trio of Pardo, Andreessen Horowitz, and Riot Games raised $25 million to fund Bonfire Studios. It's headquartered in Irvine, California, sharing a zip code with Pardo's former employer.

"We have a lot of confidence they’re going to build something fantastic. They’re pretty uncompromising when it comes to quality," said Riot co-founder Brandon Beck of Bonfire Studios.

For the time being, Pardo is focused on finding and hiring developers to begin putting together game prototypes. "Today we are announcing our company, but we look forward to continuing the conversation with our community in the coming months and years," he said.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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