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'World of Warcraft' lead designer's Bonfire Studios secures $25M in funding

Rob Pardo, lead designer of Blizzard’s massively popular PC MMORPG World of Warcraft, is heading up a new development studio dedicated to creating online multiplayer games, according to a New York Times report.

Pardo’s Bonfire Studios launched this week in Irvine, California, with a staff of industry veterans hailing from Nexon, Blizzard, and other online gaming giants.

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Bonfire Studios’ launch follows up on Pardo’s 17-year career at Blizzard Entertainment, where he worked as lead designer on the original World of Warcraft and its expansion The Burning Crusade. While the studio’s current projects are not yet known, The New York Times reveals that Pardo plans to stick to the online multiplayer realm for the company’s forthcoming debut.

Pardo notes that Blizzard’s collectible card game Hearthstone served as the inspiration for Bonfire Studios, as the small size of the game’s creative team eliminated many of the managerial roadblocks normally associated with the development of online multiplayer projects.

“Everyone got to be completely involved in [Hearthstone‘s] game design,” Pardo recalled in a statement to The New York Times. “I feel like that team’s culture was one of the strongest.”

As CEO of Bonfire Studios, Pardo secured more than $25 million in funding from big-name investors like League of Legends developer Riot Games, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, and former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello.

Former Nexon executive Min Kim and Blizzard veterans Nick Carpenter, Josh Mosqueira, and Matthew Versluys join Pardo at Bonfire Studios, though the company has yet to announce whether its first project will target mobile devices or the PC gaming market.

“We don’t want to be constrained by genre,” Pardo told The New York Times. “We really want to create games that help us make those deeper connections with each other.”