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Wizards of the Coast makes a show of opening new digital game studio

Wizards of the Coast makes a show of opening new digital game studio

January 17, 2017 | By Alex Wawro

Here's a small but notable bit of news you might have missed last week: game publisher Wizards of the Coast has launched a new Digital Games Studio division that aims to reimagine digital versions of the company's games.

That's a big deal because chief among those games are the remarkably influential tabletop roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, the 1993 collectible card game that has inspired countless folks across the game industry.

While Wizards has long held a tenuous foothold in the video game industry -- chiefly through online tabletop sims like Magic Online or licensing deals with external developers -- this seems like a significant step forward on that front.

According to a blog post attributed to company chief Chris Cocks, Wizard's new Digital Games Studio will encompass the current Magic Online dev team and be led by veteran game dev Jeffrey Steefel, who previously worked at Turbine on MMORPGs like Infinite Crisis and The Lord of the Rings Online. The rest of the Digital Games Studio team includes folks who've spent time at Valve Software, BioWare, Cryptic Studios, and other game companies.

Wizards is also looking to push its properties into other games and experiences, and has brought on longtime video game exec David Schwartz to lead a new publishing team "to explore partnerships and collaborations that will bring Magic and D&D to unexpected settings, genres, and platforms."

"We will bring our characters and worlds to other games and experiences," reads Cocks' post. "What would it be like to throw fireballs as a Planeswalker in an MMO, or quest for treasure with your friends in a D&D augmented-reality game? We want to play games like this too."

The company is also making a show of pledging to improve the digital networking aspects of its physical games, which encompasses everything from "tracking achievements" to coordinating game nights with friends.

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