Elite: Dangerous director and founder of Frontier Developments David Braben has stepped down as the company’s CEO after holding the role for 28 years.
As reported by GI.biz, Braben will remain as the studio president and founder but will be replaced in the CEO position by chief creative officer Jonny Watts. He will still be a highly influential figure at the developer, however, as Frontier said Braben is still an “executive director” and will “retain his leadership and vision for Frontier’s strategic direction”.
“Frontier is very important to me and I am delighted to be able to pass on my CEO responsibilities to the exceptionally talented Jonny Watts, who I know will do a terrific job,” Braben said.
“He has the perfect combination of creative leadership and gaming vision to build on the excellent momentum in the business. I am looking forward to my new role at Frontier, and this change enables me to focus on our longer-term strategic opportunities.”
Watts was credited as a key figure in the company’s recent successes including unaudited record revenue of £111 million in FY 2022. He’s also been at the company for a significant amount of time, originally starting in 1998 as a software developer before rising through the ranks and eventually becoming CCO in 2012.
“I am excited to step up and lead Frontier into the next chapter of our growth,” Watts said. “We have an amazing team and an exceptional culture of high-quality creativity and inclusivity. I’m looking forward to working with David and the wider Board to take us to still greater success.”
Braben became a British game developer star back in 1984 when he co-designed the original Elite with Ian Bell. In 1994 he set up Frontier Developments, and the studio’s first game was Frontier: First Encounters, a direct sequel to Frontier: Elite 2. Braben would then return to the series in 2014 for the ongoing Elite: Dangerous. But Braben’s tenure as CEO at Frontier has produced more than just the Elite series; the studio is also well known for theme park simulation games including RollerCoaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, Jurassic World Evolution, Planet Coaster, and more.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.