Mike Morhaime Announces New Game Company: Dreamhaven

Mike Morhaime Announces New Game Company: Dreamhaven

Co-founder and former Blizzard Entertainment President Mike Morhaime announced the launch of Dreamhaven, a new games development company based in Irvine, California which will provide guidance, support, and funding to subsidiary game development studios. The two initial studios, Moonshot Games and Secret Door, are similarly staffed by Blizzard alumni including Jason Chayes, Dustin Browder, Ben Thompson, Chris Sigaty, Alan Dabiri, and Eric Dodds. Mike Morhaime stepped down as President of Blizzard in October of 2018 after forming the company (then called Silicon & Synapse) in 1991, serving in an advisory role until his non-compete clause expired the following April. He will now serve as CEO of Dreamhaven, bringing decades of experience along with him and his studio teams, headed by Jason Chayes and Chris Sigaty at Moonshot and Secret Door respectively.

Mike Morhaime, former CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, and a host of industry veterans today announced Dreamhaven, their new game company based in Irvine, CA. Dreamhaven will create and publish original games for players around the world, and it has established its first two studios: Moonshot and Secret Door.

“I’m excited to team up with such talented people who care deeply about games and their communities,” said Dreamhaven CEO Mike Morhaime. “I’ve always believed in the power of games to bring people together regardless of backgrounds or boundaries. With Dreamhaven, we look forward to creating and sharing new experiences with players everywhere.”

The team at Dreamhaven came together around a common goal to empower creators, help bring their ideas to life, and create original gaming experiences that foster meaningful connections between players.

The company and its studios are still very new, so it’s not quite clear what kind of games they intend to make, although The Washington Post noted that Moonshot is to be focused on large projects, while Secret Door works on more intimate ones. That said, simultaneously launching not one but two studios together is quite an ambitious move for any new company, while being located in Irvine also places it in a competitive area, being the longtime seat of Blizzard Entertainment, Obsidian Entertainment, Ready At Dawn Studios, and the relatively new Amazon Game Studios, as well as home to dozens more developers in the greater Orange County area and throughout California.

Venturebeat has some great quotes to share from the former Blizzard President and new studios heads:

Mike Morhaime via Venturebeat

We’re almost trying to create a haven for creators who want an environment that is development friendly, values product, and player experience over short-term financial pressures. We believe in the power of gaming to bring people together and as an escape of the unpleasant things that reality can bring. In that sense, it’s a haven as well. We like the imagery of a lighthouse as a beacon, and that inspires us because we hope that Dreamhaven can be a beacon of hope to others in the industry who share our values and philosophies. There is a better way of approaching business and game creation that can work and be sustainable and be a lot of fun and yield positive results.

They can make the games they are passionate about. They’re in control of their destiny and hopefully feel like they have the best of both worlds: the entrepreneurial spirit, the stability and resources that often only larger companies can provide.

We’re not in a hurry to go out and get funding because the most important thing is to make sure we retain control over the company’s decision making. When we do go out and seek investment, we want to be aligned in terms of vision and values.

It’s important to create an environment that can sustainably cultivate creativity and innovation and unlock the potential of these talented teams. We felt that was something that we could do. In talking to Jason and some of the other folks, we felt like there was this window of opportunity that we had to do it now.

Jason Chayes via Venturebeat

I just have tremendous respect for Mike as a values-driven leader, somebody who really had a lot of courage to accompany his convictions. And so the idea of working with him and getting this off the ground was the best of possible worlds. There is something a little bit magical about being a size where we can get everybody together into a room at one time and really talk about what are we trying to do.

I had a tremendous amount of fun during my time at Blizzard and many friends who are still there. But is there unfinished business? There are more things that we’d like to do. There are more stories to tell, more games to make, and a need to figure out what developers and publishers look like in the future. This is an opportunity to build a company.

Chris Sigaty via Venturebeat

I was familiar with Mike’s values. In the 24 years, the things that stood out to me were moments where we were working on projects and it was unclear whether we needed to push forward and just get something out or push the date back and get to the greatness. Mike led the way making tough decisions to the point where he was allowing enough time for the greatness to form and get it to the quality that it needed to be.

It’s similar to what Mike said. All I’ve known in my professional development career was at Blizzard. I have been so fortunate to be part of what happened there. But is this a fluke? I refuse to believe that. These are the things that go on in your head. Who am I now? That’s part of what has driven my decision to do this.

The Washington Post also offered additional quotes from an interview last Friday:

Mike Morhaime via The Washington Post

We’ve learned a ton about what goes into creating an environment that allows creators to do their best work, and we were very successful doing that for many years at Blizzard. We reached a crossroads where we reassessed what we want to do with the rest of our lives. For Amy and I, that meant taking a step back, looking at all the things that we could possibly do and deciding to come back full circle and engage with a team of people that we know and trust and share values with and see if, ‘Hey, with all the experience we have, maybe we can do it even better this time.’

Some of the things that were particularly difficult the first time around are going to be a little bit easier this time. We aren’t starting with no money. We’re not having to write all the tools ourselves. There’s a lot of technology that’s available pretty reasonably for us to be able to build off of. And the business climate is a lot more friendly to game development start-ups. So it’s mostly exciting. Maybe 10 percent, you know, scary.

If you look back, just three years from ‘91 to ‘94, that’s the period where we were completely independent. We sort of managed to operate inside larger companies with an incredible degree of autonomy and independence, but when you’re a part of a public company, there’s only really so much independence you can actually have, because I didn’t actually own the company for such a long time.

Dreamhaven is hopefully like a beacon to the rest of the industry. Maybe we can lead by example and show that there’s a better way of doing things and approaching the business of games and treating your employees and treating your players. Obviously you have to have success in product creation and success financially to back that up. But that is what we’re going for.

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