Gaming giant NetEase has announced that it has recruited Greg Street, an influential designer on both World of Warcraft at Blizzard and League of Legends at Riot Games, to lead a new studio building an original fantasy massively multiplayer game.
Street’s studio is called Fantastic Pixel Castle and the “AAA MMO” game it’s working on is codenamed Ghost. The game is set in a new fantasy universe.
Street, who was known to the WoW community by his screen name Ghostcrawler, worked as a lead systems designer at Blizzard between 2008 and 2013, when the game was at the height of its popularity. His job included evolving the design and adjusting the balance of the character classes — a contentious area, to the say the least — and he was famed for his open engagement with the community in often forthright and funny exchanges on the official forums.
After leaving Blizzard, Street worked at Riot Games as a lead game designer, bringing his talent for online gaming balance first to League of Legends and later to its as-of-yet unreleased MMO spinoff. Street announced his departure from Riot in March of this year.
Street is a hugely experienced technical designer who has worked on two of the biggest online games of all time, so he’s quite a scalp for NetEase. The Chinese gaming giant is increasing investment in its own studios after losing the license to operate Blizzard games in China when its relationship with Activision Blizzard broke down acrimoniously. NetEase has recently founded studios led by Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi and Star Wars MMO veteran Rich Vogel, among many others.
NetEase says Street’s founding team at Fantastic Pixel Castle includes former WoW, LoL, and Guild Wars 2 developers. Street says that the studio is being built on remote working principles, will be recruiting globally, will stay small and nimble, and wants to show the game to fans “early and often” to get feedback. The studio has just launched a new website and will be introducing itself and Ghost on Twitch on Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. ET.