Letter From the CEO Jesse Houston

New Games and Beyond: A Multi-Studio Future for Phoenix Labs

December 2, 2020

People Are the Ends, Not the Means

Six years ago, we established Phoenix Labs with the goal of bringing players together through our collective passion for games. Today we are 140 developers hailing from a wide range of backgrounds. As we’ve grown, we’ve had the opportunity to meet and delight millions of gamers worldwide. I speak for all of us at Phoenix Labs when I say thank you for joining us on this journey.

As I reflect on the last six years, I’m grateful for the opportunities we’ve had, the foundation we’ve built, and everything we have achieved together. We aspire to bring joy and delight to players for years to come by providing developers with a long term home to create the world’s best gaming experiences. Which is why today we have some very exciting news to share about the future of Phoenix Labs.

We are excited to announce our multi-studio vision for Phoenix Labs. In addition to our studios in Vancouver, British Columbia and San Mateo, California, we have established two new teams in Los Angeles and Montréal.

At Phoenix Labs, we believe that people are the ends, not the means, and that great games come from great teams. A pillar of our R&D strategy is to form, empower, and support these teams as they explore game concepts and embark on the ambitious journey of making new games. I am excited to share that the creative process and prototyping are already underway.

In Vancouver and San Mateo we’ve assembled new R&D teams, many of which have previously worked together on Dauntless and on games at other studios. We are growing teams at both of these studios to expand our overall capabilities and empower each studio’s ability to progress on their game projects.

In Los Angeles and Montréal, we’ve established new studios, each with an experienced founding team led by strong product and studio leaders. Over the years we’ve built lasting relationships with some of the most talented developers in the world, and we’re excited to bring these people (and many more) into the fold at Phoenix Labs.

While these new studios represent a moment of growth for Phoenix Labs, they also enable us to continue living our philosophy of bringing players together through deep multiplayer games — and expand it to bring new games to life.

New Labs, New Faces

Montréal

Over 15 years ago I had the opportunity to work with some of Ubisoft’s most talented teams on Rainbow Six and Splinter Cell. One of my earliest mentors, André Roy, was leading the live team on both titles, and we quickly formed a lasting bond. Now, over 15 years later, I’m excited to call André a teammate again, as one of the founding members and general manager of our Montréal studio. Andre is joined by Marie-Andreé Lavoie, who is leading talent and culture initiatives, and Guillaume Roy, who is serving as the studio’s head of technology.

Los Angeles

Jing Wang, who joined Phoenix Labs to head up special projects at the studio last year, has more than lived up to her “Jing of all trades” nickname. She has led a variety of projects across company and game initiatives, operating in product, brand, and experience design roles. Based in Los Angeles, Jing brings deep interdisciplinary experience to our new southern California studio as its general manager. She is joined by product director Omar Kendall, who will lead the studio’s R&D efforts on a new game project, alongside an experienced team of developers. Previously, Omar led the League of Legends gameplay initiative as well as new IP projects at Riot Games. Prior to that he was the game director on PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, and led game design on a number of titles spanning his time at Superbot, THQ, Neversoft, and Midway.

San Mateo

In northern California, Hunter Howe is leading a growing team in San Mateo on a new project. Hunter has served as Phoenix Labs’ design director for over three years, guiding teams in shaping Dauntless’ gameplay systems, as well as developing experiences such as Escalation hunts. Before joining us, Hunter was a creative director on The Sims franchise at Electronic Arts, where he developed his passion for building games that embrace player expression and creativity.

Vancouver

Our Vancouver studio will continue to be Phoenix Labs’ headquarters. As our largest studio, it’s positioned to continue development on Dauntless as well as begin prototyping new game efforts. At the helm of Dauntless is Hans Reifenrath, who has been paramount to defining the Dauntless Reforged vision this year. He brings over 20 years of experience in games and live operations, with a focus on growing great teams in companies ranging from small startups to large corporations. His love of multiplayer gaming has taken him from table top games including Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer 40,000, to video games including Bejeweled Blitz for PopCap, and most recently Ghostly Bear Games.

New Game Prototyping Is Already Underway

Today we are excited to announce that we’re already working on several new game prototypes. With these prototypes, we are challenging ourselves creatively — exploring a variety of new genres, platforms, playstyles, and communities.

Our approach to R&D is rooted in our values. We believe in transparency, so we’ve made the R&D process visible to the entire company. Anyone on the team can submit a game idea and become a champion for their pitch. We’ve seen pitches from designers, artists, programmers, community managers, and more — everyone at the studio has been involved in the process. We chose this approach because we want each developer to feel empowered to be part of our future games.

As we did with Dauntless, we’re taking time to iterate, test ideas, and most importantly playtest. We can’t wait to share more about these exciting new projects in the future.

Dauntless: Strength In Numbers

With over 25 million players worldwide, we couldn’t be more proud of Dauntless and its vibrant community. I remain endlessly thankful for all the community feedback we get on a daily basis.

We’re on the verge of launching the biggest content update ever with Dauntless Reforged. It completely reimagines the core gameplay loop and adds significant progression updates and other features. To support all our gameplay initiatives this year, like Escalation, Hunting Grounds, and the Slayer’s Path, we grew the core Dauntless team in Vancouver by double.

Again, thank you for joining us on this journey. From everyone at Phoenix Labs, the best is yet to come.

Jesse “GTez” Houston signature

Jesse “GTez” Houston

CEO and Co-Founder - Phoenix Labs