As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, CCP has picked Owen O’Brien from Electronic Arts to be the new Executive Producer of EVE: Valkyrie.
In terms of actions taken by CCP, this one isn’t very surprising at all. All C-suite executives have hand-picked people that they like working with and work well with. And when an executive moves from job to job, it’s often quite common for them to recruit from this pool of people into their new organization. It’s something I’ve seen dozens and dozens of times from various perspectives. I’ve even been that person myself a time or two, from both sides of the equation.
Given that Sean Decker is conspicuous in his praise for O’Brien in the press release and given that both were sometimes interviewed together at the release of Mirror’s Edge, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if O’Brien is one of Decker’s hand-picked people from his time at EA. In any case, I’m quite sure that when Decker learned of CCP’s openings in a variety of positions, like any good executive he started thinking about people who would be good fits for positions within his new company. And CCP would have been foolish not to talk to some of Decker’s suggested people.
Hell, if there’s a surprise here, perhaps it’s that Decker didn’t suggest someone for the EVE Executive Producer job. (And I’m not saying he didn’t, because I don’t know.)
For those of you who complain that Decker’s mere presence as an EA executive makes him inherently evil, O’Brien’s hiring will give you nothing to feel good about. As far as I’ve been able to determine, O’Brien is a long-time EA employee, having come up through the ranks from Shogun: Total War to Dungeon Keeper 2 to a string of Harry Potter video games to Mirror’s Edge, taking on more and more important production roles with each jump. That’s at least 13 years at EA. He seems to have joined DICE around early 2006, quite early in the release cycle for Mirror’s Edge and been an important leader in its development and release. It’s a pretty good bet that he’s been working the recently-announced Mirror’s Edge sequel since then.
The original game is itself a good resume for the Valkyrie EP job, given that Valkyrie’s challenges and opportunities are closely related to the challenges and opportunities Mirror’s Edge faced in terms of potential simulation sickness, a bold visual style, and enclosed story-based game-play. Viewed from that perspective, O’Brien is a near-perfect fit for his new role.
But of course that’s not going to stop some of you out there from thinking EA is filling CCP with awoxers.
All in all, I think this is another encouraging move by CCP and I find it interesting that they keep looking outward for these key leadership positions. Of course, the job that’s most important to me remains unfilled…
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