How Will Being "Free" of Activision Change Dreamhaven?

The cycle from acquisition, to departure, to creation of a new game studio is relatively new, but one that is becoming more frequent.
Image courtesy of Activision Blizzard

The video game industry is difficult to survive in. Between excruciating hours, sexual harassment, and myriad other issues, it’s a miracle that anyone sticks around long enough to be considered a “veteran.” So there’s rightfully a certain amount of excitement when those veterans “get the band back together,” the way Dreamhaven announced last week. But does game development also need new blood to keep it fresh? Or will it be enough for these industry vets to play the hits? We discuss this and much more on Waypoint Radio. You can listen to the full episode and read an excerpt below.


Austin: It makes me wonder, is there an, is there an example of this happening where people have come out really happy with what has been made? Um, I'm struggling to figure out what that might be.

Rob: Yeah sure Outer Worlds was kind of underwhelming, but I think overall people have been kind of happy with like how Obsidian has maintained [itself.] I think there's a lot of people who will stan Path of Exile, that's Obsidian, right?

Austin: Yeah, no. You're thinking of, uh, wow. Why am I blanking on their other game?

Rob: There's inXile and there's, uh –

Austin: Pillars of Eternity! Pillars of Eternity?

Ricardo: Yes, that's Obsidian

Austin: Yeah. You said Path of Exile before?

Rob: Oh, well, that's just cause my brain is scattered.

Rob: Path of exile is somebody else. It's cool though.

Austin: If you like Diablo 2, there you go.

Rob: If you’re like “I wish Diablo 2 never ended,” Path of Exile. You will exile your life to grinding gear forever.

Austin: InXile, meanwhile, has been putting out Wasteland 3 and Torment: Tides of Numenera. They've also been in that get the band back together vibe.

Rob: There's a subtext of the DreamHaven announcement that is like, Hey, we basically weren't allowed to do things at Activision.

Austin: Totally, totally. Which I do believe.

Rob: Yeah. I mean, I think Activision has a pretty ruthless mindset of “is this going to be worth it, is the juice worth the squeeze,” right? Is this idea probably going to be this order of magnitude of a success? If no, then we don't finance it because it's simply not worth investing in.


Ricardo: Well, and a success meaning a commercial success. Doesn't matter if it gets good reviews or it's like super innovative or anything, to them that's success they're looking for is specifically like as much profit as possible.

This transcript was edited for length and clarity. Discussed: Ex-Blizzard Employees form new company 7:49, No Man's Sky Origins 28:55, Umurangi Generation: Macro 33:56, Dragon Dogma's Anime 42:15, Hades 42:24, Star Renegades 54:23, Risk of Rain 2 57:55, Emails 1:01:05

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