Raphael Colantonio, president and founder of Arkane Studios, announced that he was leaving the company earlier this week. Colantonio started Arkane in 1999 and was most recently the creative director on Prey [official site]. Today, at Gamelab Barcelona, he reflected on his time at Arkane and what prompted his departure.
“It’s one of those things you don’t realise until it starts to hurt,” he told Eurogamer’s Robert Purchese, who was interviewing him on stage. “I’m someone with a lot of drive; driven by adventure and I like what I do a lot. Probably about a year or two ago, I started to feel a slow need for focusing on things that are not work-related.”
He’s now looking forward to spending more time with his son while working on personal projects and playing music, but he was also clear that he didn’t plan to leave the industry forever.
“What I need now is a vacation. Imagine not taking a vacation for 18 years. When you own a company, vacations aren’t real vacations because you never stop working. I just want to go through a phase of figuring out what I do next. I don’t think I’m done with games forever. I love games. But I don’t feel like working on a new big game right now. I’ve done it so many times, I just want to think about other things.”
Although he’s ready for something new, Colantonio talked about his love for both Arkane and its owner Bethesda.
“I love Arkane, I love Bethesda and it’s been 18 years of very fascinating adventures, and some super-hard times. As you know we were independent for a while and had a lot of struggles as independent developers know. Leaving this is a hard, hard choice.
“The studio had almost collapsed for the third time and I did an interview with, I think, Gamesindustry.biz where I was talking about how dire our situation was,” he said. “The VP of Bethesda was a big fan of our work since Arx Fatalis, and we’d met him when we were pitching Arx Fatalis 2 [which became Dark Messiah under Ubisoft] but I hadn’t realised how much he’d been waiting to work with us. He loved those first-person immersive games and wanted Bethesda to be making those games.”
Their collaboration led to Dishonored, the studio’s first-person stealth game and first major hit. “Dishonored was the first time we could finally make a game that was both true to all the values we have and at the same time understood by the publisher, marketed right, and with the right financial backing. For us, that was the moment when we felt successful. It was exactly the game we had wanted to make.”
Colantonio is confident, however, that both Lyon and Austin studios will be fine without him. “Both Arkane studios have games coming so I’m not worried about the quality of the games. I’ll handle the handover of the Lyon studio and Harvey [Smith] will remain.”
Our Adam was in the audience for the talk, and we’ll have more coverage from Gamelab Barcelona next week.