When 38 Studios CEO Brett Close told Joystiq that his company's acquisition of Big Huge Games from THQ was due in no small part to the "incredible veteran talent" at the developer – even singling out Oblivion and Morrowind designer Ken Rolston – we had assumed that he was also referring to the studio's CEO and Creative Director, Brian Reynolds. Yeah, you see where we're going with this ...
Social gaming developer Zynga (think: Mafia Wars) announced today that it has hired Reynolds to fill the newly created position of "chief designer" (a reaction to social gaming competitor Playdom's appointment of legendary game designer Steve Meretzky to the position of VP of game design last year?). Reynolds will "head up operations at Zynga East" in Baltimore, and "production efforts will be focused on creating new social network games ... with a strategic emphasis."
When asked for comment on Reynolds' departure, Close told Joystiq, "38 Studios highly values the vision and contributions of BHG founder Brian Reynolds to the portfolio of BHG products and the video game industry in general. We wish him great success in his new endeavor." But with Reynolds out, who's left to run things at BHG (they've still got titles in development after all)? Close said, "With regards to his position at BHG/38S, we are still evaluating roles and responsibilities between the two studios; the other founders and top talent at BHG are stepping up in the meantime."
Chief amongst those "stepping up" would be co-founder Tim Train, President and Chief Operations Officer of Big Huge Games, as well as the studio's General Manager. Train told us, "Having worked with Brian for seventeen years, I'm very excited to see what fresh ideas he'll bring to the social gaming space. I'm also happy to have a new studio in the Baltimore area that can attract new talent and investment to the region. We wish Zynga East the best!"
So: is Maryland joining Massachusetts as a mecca for East Coast game development? With just 12 to 15 employees at Zynga East, we're not quite ready to say that, but consider our curiosity officially piqued.