The head of the studio that made Prey and Dishonored is stepping down and leaving parent company ZeniMax Media.
Arkane Studios president Raphael Colantonio is exiting the studio he cofounded in 1999, according to a blog post on the company’s website. The developer, who is responsible for games like Arx Fatalis before working on Dishonored and Prey under ZeniMax’s game publishing division Bethesda, said he plans to reflect and spend time with his son. Harvey Smith, the director of Dishonored 2, will take over the Austin-based Arkane team. Colantonio did not specify who is taking over Arkane Lyon in France.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest people in the industry,” wrote Colantonio. “And I feel extremely lucky to have been part of this journey with everyone at Arkane.”
Colantonio and Arkane joined ZeniMax in 2010, and the former president said that partnership enabled the studio to deliver on its potential. He also explained that he is leaving Arkane is strong hands that ZeniMax can continue to have faith in.
“ZeniMax strongly believes in Arkane’s ability to make great games, and is committed to supporting the studio,” said Colantonio. “My long-time friend and colleague, Harvey Smith, will oversee the team in Austin, and I will be around for as long as necessary to ensure a smooth transition to the new management team in Lyon.”
Arkane has established itself as one of the most critically respected studios in the world. Dishonored 2 and the reboot of Prey both found warm receptions from players for their open-ended gameplay and atmospheric worlds. Prey, which launched in May, has players investigating a space station and making impossible choices about how to handle a no-win situation. Dishonored 2, which debuted in November, is about exploring a dangerous, grimy world using magical powers and anachronistic weapons.
But while both Dishonored 2 and Prey were critical successes, they weren’t necessarily smash hits in terms of sales. Bethesda has never shared any official data, but Dishonored 2 had a weak debut in the U.K., according to intelligence firm GfK Chart-Track. And April’s Mario Kart 8 and March’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild outsold the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Prey in the United States last month, according to The NPD Group. Bethesda has never said if those games met the company’s sales expectations, so I’ve asked the publisher for a comment about that.
Colantonio did not mention the performance of Arkane’s products as a reason he is leaving, as you can see in his full statement below:
“The last 18 years have been an amazing adventure – from starting Arkane in 1999, to making our first game, Arx Fatalis, to joining ZeniMax Media in 2010 and releasing the Dishonored series and Prey to critical acclaim – it is time for me to step out to spend some time with my son and reflect on what is important to me and my future.
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest people in the industry, and I feel extremely lucky to have been part of this journey with everyone at Arkane.
I’ve lived many magical moments. I’ve also been through the hard times. But, I can say that joining ZeniMax took things to the next level and gave Arkane the opportunity to emerge as a world-class studio. ZenIMax enabled us to make the best games that we’ve ever made. And I know there is even more to come.
ZeniMax strongly believes in Arkane’s ability to make great games, and is committed to supporting the studio. My long-time friend and colleague, Harvey Smith, will oversee the team in Austin and I will be around for as long as necessary to ensure a smooth transition to the new management team in Lyon.
I wish the best to everyone at Arkane, Bethesda, and ZeniMax. Without a doubt I will miss everyone.
As I close, I’d like to thank the Arkane fans for their passion and support. I proudly join them as Arkane Studios’ biggest champion, and I look forward to playing the extraordinary new games the studio is working on.”