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David Reid sets the record straight on NC West

Adrian Bott

Nobody can have failed to notice the announcement of NC West, which broke recently amid rumors of staffing reshuffles in various NCsoft studios. Although some key concerns were addressed very swiftly, many of our readers had plenty of questions to ask, and so did we.

David Reid, appointed President of Publishing, was kind enough to give up considerable time yesterday for an interview. We discussed Guild Wars and Tabula Rasa, but the main focus was on the NC West announcement.

Massively: We really do appreciate you guys talking to us, because there are a lot of Massively readers who are concerned with this announcement. It was kind of sudden – the NCsoft West thing just kind of snuck up on them, and they're not entirely sure about what's going on. Although you guys have put out a couple of statements so far about it, I think people are still a little unclear on it.

David Reid: That's exactly why we are keen to talk with you. Let us be clear about whatever questions your readers have, and set things straight on that.

Massively: Great! As a broad question: NC West sounds like (to us, and we want to make sure we have this clear) a conglomeration of the game development assets for NCsoft in the US, into a smaller number of groups than it is right now. Is that the primary goal?

David Reid:
That's part of it. It is really a number of things in addition to that, too. Number one, it is about consolidating the leadership for the Western presence of the company, and that includes the European side of the business. So that's one of the bigger changes that's happened here.

And some of this was more – I don't want to get into the minutiae of incorporation documents and such, but when you add Europe to the mix, there were actually four separate companies operating on behalf of NCsoft across North America and Europe, and we are working to consolidate that towards one operating entity that has global leadership across all these territories.

Massively: And that was NC Austin, NC Europe, ArenaNet, and NCSoft in San Francisco?

David Reid: To be really specific, the studio organizations in the West are all part of NC West. So that does include ArenaNet. It does include the NC NorCal folks that you talk about which are in Mountain View, which is close to San Francisco, and then our Carbine Studio which is in SoCal in Aliso Viejo, and also the Destination Games team here in Austin.

Massively: Right. And to that end: ArenaNet has definitely been its own thing, even as long as it's been part of the NCsoft family. Is it going to continue to have that ArenaNet name, or is ArenaNet going to become NC West as well, as far as branding goes?

"I can absolutely, passionately tell you that I think one of the worst things this company could do would be to change ArenaNet into 'NC West Bellevue'!"

David Reid: I can absolutely, passionately tell you that I think one of the worst things this company could do would be to change ArenaNet into 'NC West Bellevue'! You look around the industry, and the developers that have done the best work on a consistent basis are those that have been able to build an independent culture and have a distinctive creative vision, and that comes with a certain amount of flair and branding and attitude about what makes our studio different from others.

And so this is why I give Brian Clayton a hard time down in Mountain View about how 'You know, guy, if you want to be world class, you kinda need that world class name! You need to get out of this "NC NorCal" thing! Which we've all acknowledged is a placeholder, but... let's get there, right? What is the ArenaNet or Carbine or distinctive vibe that you want to give that studio?' And that is something we all passionately agree about here.

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