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Digital Extremes founder James Schmalz is stepping down as CEO

Ahead of the studio's 30th anniversary, CEO/founder James Schmalz is moving on from Digital Extremes.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 24, 2023

2 Min Read
Key art for Digital Extremes' Warframe, showing three Tenno leaping into action.
Image via Digital Extremes.

Longtime Digital Extremes CEO James Schmalz will be stepping down from his position, effective immediately. 

Schmalz, who created Epic Pinball and founded the Warframe developer in 1993, will continue to serve on its board of directors. In his place will be Steve Sinclair, who's been with the studio for 24 years and currently serves as its chief creative officer. 

His departure comes on the heels of Digital Extremes' 30th anniversary. The studio helped work on Epic Games' Unreal franchise and a number of pinball titles during the 90s and early 2000s. In 2008, it released Dark Sectora third-person shooter which would become the basis of its very popular online shooter Warframe

Following the release of Dark Sector, the studio did contract work, creating the multiplayer for BioShock 2 and Homefront. Two of its more notable contract games were The Darkness II and the 2013 Star Trek game.

"I feel immensely privileged to have been able to play my part in shaping our industry," wrote Schmalz. "Building our stellar team has been a fulfilling life work. I feel [that] in Steve, we have the ideal leader to take us and our growing community of players into a new era and can’t wait to see what can be accomplished under his leadership.”

Sinclair, in his own statement, commended Schmalz for his tenure, saying he "believed—and continues to believe—in our team when no one else would, and established one of the most community-oriented and player-focused studios in the world."

"James saying 'yes' to Warframe in 2012 and boldly committing to making it work changed the trajectory of our company. [...] 

"I’m humbled and nervous to lead this amazing company; for now I’ll throw my 'Lunaro 2' notes in the trash so we can remain focused on our commitment to surprise and delight audiences around the world.”

Digital Extremes' next project is Soulframe, a shared world fantasy title billed as a "sister game" to Warframe. The sci-fi shooter will be coming to mobile next year, and Game Developer recently spoke with principal 3D character artist Michael Skyers about the game's unique visual style.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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