Visceral execs defect to Activision

[UPDATE 2] EA confirms Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey have left former EA Redwood Shores; rival publisher announces pair will be working on installment in existing franchise and run all-new Bay Area studio.

Yesterday, job listings revealed that Activision is building an all-new games studio in the San Francisco Bay Area. Late today came a report that the megapublisher, one half of Activision Blizzard, has successfully wooed two senior developers away from its archrival, Bay Area-headquartered Electronic Arts.

Visceral's recently minted logo.

According to sources close to Electronic Arts, this afternoon the staff of Visceral Games were informed that the internal studio, formerly known as EA Redwood Shores, was losing two of its senior members--general manager Glen Schofield and COO Michael Condrey. The pair then reportedly let it be known they were going to work at Activision's new studio, which remains unnamed.

Schofield is best known for being the driving force behind Dead Space, which was pitched internally to EA executives by a group of dedicated developers. Most recently, he has been promoting Visceral's upcoming project, Dante's Inferno. In an interview earlier this year, Schofield told GameSpot several unannounced projects are also in the pipeline at the studio.

Departing GM Glen Schofield.

A source that wished to remain anonymous told GameSpot that today's news capped several weeks of rumors of the pair's departure. These were fueled by intense recruiting by Activision of many staffers at Visceral, which had just been rebranded as EA's core gamer label earlier this year. "It's not a very happy day here," said the source.

[UPDATE] After this story was first reported, an EA rep gave GameSpot the following statement: "I can confirm that Glen and Michael are exiting EA. It takes a team of talented people to make a highly rated game like Dead Space. The team at Visceral are currently working on Dante's Inferno, Dead Space Extraction, and new titles that will be announced at a later date." EA also emphasized that EA senior vice president Nick Earl continues to oversee Visceral, where production on Dante's Inferno and Dead Space Extraction is continuing apace.

[UPDATE 2] Activision has confirmed that the exiting EA executives will indeed head up its new San Mateo, California ship. "We are currently hiring employees to work at a new studio that is opening in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California," a rep told GameSpot. "Glen Schofield along with Michael Condrey will lead the studio which will be creating a new game based on one of Activision's existing franchises. We will be providing more details regarding the game at a later date.

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