Michael Condrey, a veteran of games like Call of Duty and Dead Space, is starting a new studio for Take-Two Interactive’s 2K division in Silicon Valley. He will build an outpost that will work on an unannounced project.
Nabbing Condrey, who left Sledgehammer and the Activision family last year, is a coup for 2K because very few people have built a 300-person game studio to make triple-A games that have gone on to sell more than a billion dollars in revenue for years, as Call of Duty games have done.
“Great games come from the passion of a team driven by the pursuit of quality and the empowerment of an independent studio model,” Condrey said in a statement. “2K’s studios have creative and technical autonomy, backed by a world-class infrastructure of support, and that offers the perfect recipe to build a new studio and craft experiences that will lead the next generation of gaming for fans everywhere.”
Condrey was a cofounder of Sledgehammer Games, which made the smash hits Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (2014) and Call of Duty: WWII (2017). He cofounded Sledgehammer in 2009 along with Glen Schofield to create the third major studio in Activision’s fold of Call of Duty studios. The company immediately went to work on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011), before it began its three-year cycle of working on Call of Duty games alongside Activision’s Treyarch and Infinity Ward studios.
Condrey was a passionate leader who spoke at our GamesBeat 2016 conference about building a 300-person studio with 40 percent diverse staff in San Mateo, California. At that event, he declared that diverse teams were key to making great Triple-A games. Condrey and Schofield also spoke at our GamesBeat Summit 2017 event about how they wanted Call of Duty: WWII to be memorable because it was the only way for a new generation of kids to understand the horrors of World War II and the sacrifice of soldiers who served in it. If all goes well, Condrey is going to speak at GamesBeat Summit 2019, April 23 and April 24 in Los Angeles.
When Condrey and Schofield left Sledgehammer last year, it was a major shakeup at Activision Blizzard.
Before starting Sledgehammer, Schofield and Condrey created Visceral Games at Electronic Arts. They created the popular Dead Space science fiction third-person survival horror-shooter franchise. The games have been both critical and commercial successes.
“At 2K, we offer our collective audience a variety of engaging and captivating entertainment experiences. We continually seek opportunities to empower and invest in the right people and ideas,” said David Ismailer, president at 2K, in a statement. “Michael’s unparalleled creative, production and leadership accolades are well-documented and deserved. We are greatly inspired not only by his passion but the potential for his new studio to complement our existing portfolio and development expertise. We welcome Michael to the 2K family and look forward to seeing our new Silicon Valley studio flourish in the months and years to come.”
Regarding 2K, Condrey said, “David and the dedicated people at 2K and Take-Two have an extensive history of rich and established brands, as well as a long tenure of executive leadership committed to supporting the ambitions of their independent studio teams.”
And he said, “Today’s announcement represents a rare and special opportunity for developers to help build and shape a new Silicon Valley studio from the ground up. I couldn’t be more excited, or thankful, to embark on this next step in my career.”
2K’s new Silicon Valley studio — with an official name to be announced — will join the company’s stable of wholly owned development teams, including Visual Concepts, Firaxis Games, Hangar 13 and Cat Daddy Games. Take-Two, the parent company, also owns Rockstar Games, the creator of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Grand Theft Auto V.
Condrey and his future team will have the creative freedom to develop the studio’s vision and long-term projects while having access to a global network of proven industry leaders and resources across 2K’s studios. Condrey is hiring in Silicon Valley at a time when it seemed like most of the new jobs in the game industry are being created outside the Bay Area, or outside the U.S.
In an emailed statement for GamesBeat, Condrey said, “I’ve always admired the ambition and boldness of Take-Two. The company’s portfolio is as exceptional as it is diverse. From the stunning worlds of BioShock to the expansive gameplay of Red Dead Redemption, the leadership demonstrated across labels has shown incredible commitment to making amazing and ambitious games. 2K, under David, is committed to an independent studio model, where development teams have creative and technical autonomy to collaborate and make their dreams become realities while still having the full support of one of the biggest publishers in the industry. I’m grateful for David’s support in bringing this opportunity to life with 2K.”
I don’t know what he’s working on, but I can bet that gamers are going to have an interesting new triple-A game to play in three to five years.