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ArenaNet president Mike O’Brien departs to make small games at a smaller studio

After nearly 20 years working at Guild Wars 2 developers ArenaNet, president and co-founder Mike O’Brien has packed his bags. It’s been a good run, carving out a stable niche in the fiercely contested MMORPG arena, but earlier this week O’Brien gave his fond farewells to the studio he helped found. It’s time to aim smaller and make less demanding games with friends.

Handling of Guild Wars had already been passed on to game director Mike Zadorojny when O’Brien stepped back in 2017. With the president’s departure, it sounds like Zadorojny will be taking on even more control of both the company and their flagship MMO. Whether that means he’ll be taking on the mantle of president or not is currently not know.

“I am confident that ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 are in good hands,” O’Brien said. “[Zadorojny] is a true champion of the Guild Wars franchise and of this studio’s values; he is the best person to continue carrying the torch at the company.”

Following O’Brien’s farewells, Zadorojny’s statement simply thanked his boss for their time together. He reassured fans that Guild Wars 2 is still going strong, with plenty to look forward to with upcoming chapters in the Icebrook Saga arc.

Last week, sources told Kotaku that O’Brien was one of eight developers preparing to leave ArenaNet. Collectively, it sounds like the lot of them had been working together on the early development of a new Guild Wars project. Whether that was a third mainline MMORPG or something else entirely is unknown.

Another source backed up that claim, suggesting to Kotaku that while a Guild Wars 3 had yet to be greenlit internally, O’Brien’s team may have been laying the groundwork for an MMO threequel.

O’Brien is heading off to start a new studio with some of his fellow departees. He doesn’t seem in any rush to take on the MMO space again, saying: “We’ll go back to the beginning and make small games again.” If his alleged Guild Wars experiments existed in any form at ArenaNet, don’t expect traces of them to carry over into his new groove.

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