Based in Novato, California and Montréal, Québec, the studio is part of an effort to create new triple-A games — in this case to feed the pent-up demand for the BioShock franchise, which hasn’t had a big release since BioShock Infinite and its expansions came out in 2013 and 2014. Kelley Gimore, a 22-year industry veteran from Firaxis, will run the studio and be the first woman in 2K history to do so.
It’s also the second new studio that 2K has announced in the past year, as it follows on last year’s 2K Silicon Valley, a new studio from former Call of Duty and Sledgehammer Games executive Michael Condrey.
“It feels like an opportunity of a lifetime to be under the umbrella of this great publishing group,” Gilmore said in an interview with GamesBeat. “Being able to start a new studio is pretty cool. We’re really excited about it and, and the enormity of the responsibility to carry this franchise forward doesn’t fall lightly on any of us. So I can tell you that from the get go. And you know, so far we’re a pretty small team. But the leadership is made up of some people who have a history with a BioShock franchise, which, which is pretty exciting.”
Cloud Chamber will be a “collective of storytellers eager to push the frontlines of interactive entertainment by making unique, entertaining and thoughtful experiences that engage the world.”
The new BioShock will be in development for the next several years. Gilmore’s team includes Hogarth de la Plante, creative director; Scott Sinclair, art director; and Jonathan Pelling, design director. Gilmore said a number of veterans from the BioShock franchise are joining the team, and the studio continues to hire people.
“We have pretty good DNA for this franchise,” Gilmore said. “We’ve hired some veterans from some other really great games that have been launched in the market, like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, Star Wars, Battlefield, and The Walking Dead. We feel like we have the experience that can really drive this project forward in an exciting way.”
“As we continue growing our product portfolio, we remain inspired by opportunities to invest further in our valuable IP, great people and their collective, long-term potential,” said David Ismailer, president of 2K, in a statement. “BioShock is one of the most beloved, critically praised and highest-rated franchises of the last console generation. We can’t wait to see where its powerful narrative and iconic, first-person shooter gameplay head in the future with our new studio team at Cloud Chamber leading the charge.”
Gilmore has shipped more than 40 games to date. Her experience includes executive production, marketing direction, and public relations management, including nearly two decades of service to another of 2K’s wholly owned studios, Firaxis Games, on franchises such as Sid Meier’s Civilization and XCOM. She recently moved from Baltimore to Novato.
She said her team would create undiscovered worlds and push the boundaries of the gaming medium. Her own job will be to focus on the business side of running the studio, while others reporting to her will handle the creative work.
Gilmore has tapped Ken Schachter to be Cloud Chamber’s studio manager in Montréal. An executive with extensive experience in development, production, technology, and creative roles, Schachter will also be an ambassador for both the studio and 2K in establishing a significant company presence in Montréal, a first for 2K.
“We’re in two of the best cities in the world for game development,” Gilmore said.
Prior to joining 2K, Schachter served as general manager for Zynga in Toronto, and he founded independent game developer and publisher Trapdoor. He has also held notable positions with companies such as Gameloft, Autodesk and more.
Besides Cloud Chamber, 2K’s family of studios includes Visual Concepts, Firaxis Games, Hangar 13, Cat Daddy Games and 2K Silicon Valley. Those interested in pursuing career opportunities with the new studio may visit the Cloud Chamber website or 2K Careers for more information.
“We’re looking for talent in every discipline of game development,” she said. “And of course, we’re looking for people who are crazy passionate about making games and love the BioShock franchise and are super talented.”
I tried to trick Gilmore into at least saying that the game would have “Big Daddys and Little Sisters,” but she didn’t bite.
Asked what Cloud Chamber means, Gilmore said, “I have to have to get my head together on it. At the risk of stepping outside of my wheelhouse, I’m going to get a bit sciency for a second. A literal cloud chamber is a scientific tool that lets us visualize particles in the atmosphere that are otherwise invisible. The chamber creates a space for them to mix with other elements and take shape. This inspired us to think about the ideas in our creative minds as invisible elements, and our daily collaboration as the vehicle for bringing those ideas to life on the screen, for the world to see. Hence, our studio is a human Cloud Chamber.”
Gilmore said the Cloud Chamber team would benefit from sharing knowledge with other 2K studios, but she said that Condrey’s 2K Silicon Valley is working on something different.