WoW’s lead designer and some of Blizzard’s biggest names start new studio with Riot Games funding

Bonfire Studios

In case you were wondering what Rob Pardo was up to, Bonfire Studios is it. After leaving Blizzard in 2014 for pastures new, he spent a couple of years generally enjoying life as one of the industry’s biggest names. Looks like he’s bored of that now, as his new project has been officially announced. Funded by a combination of Riot Games and a Californian venture capital firm, Bonfire comprises not only Pardo but other big names as well. Making the team are former head of cinematics at Blizzard Nick Carpenter, the ex-CEO of Nexon America Min Kim, Diablo III’s game director from 2011 to 2016 Josh Mosqueira and another 16-year Blizzard vet in the ex-director of engineering Matthew Versluys. 

With folks like this, it might be hard not to make some of the best PC games ever.

Phew, that’s some big names. The formation of the studio was announced via the New York Times and a blog post from Pardo, the founding folks being these five. No games are in development yet, with hiring the main aim for the next few months. When they do kick into gear, they describe themselves as existing to “build friendships by creating legendary game experiences” and Pardo admits that multiplayer will be the focus.

In the meantime, Riot Games are footing the bill in what can only be describe as a bit of a coup. Mosqueira is regarded as one of the people behind the resurrection of Diablo III from good-but-flawed ARPG to something that deserves its name. Carpenter not only directed Blizzard’s renowned cinematic team for 22 years, but ended his time there as a guiding force for the art team too. Meanwhile Versluys was key to keeping World of Warcraft /’s backend running during some of its most popular periods in history and Pardo – well Pardo lead design on StarCraft: Brood War, Warcraft III and the original WoW. Kinda speaks for itself.

It will probably be a couple of years before we hear what Bonfire are working on, but they’re almost certainly worth keeping your eye on. Who knows where they’ll end up, ‘BonCon’ has something of a ring to it.