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Team 17 CEO Debbie Bestwick is stepping down

Bestwick plans to transition into a non-executive role.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

March 28, 2023

2 Min Read
The Team 17 logo surrounded by characters from the studio's most popular franchises, such as Worms

Debbie Bestwick is stepping down as CEO of UK studio Team 17. The company broke the news in a director update, and said Bestwick will vacate the role once a suitable successor has be found.

Bestwick will remain CEO while the search takes place, and will then transition into a "non-executive role" while also retaining her place on the board of directors to provide ongoing mentorship, support, and guidance to the Team 17 senior management team.

"This has probably been the hardest decision I've made, but I wouldn't have made it if I wasn't confident in the succession plans and the leadership team's ability to deliver the clear and focused strategy regarding our collective goals and ambitions," said Bestwick.

"Ultimately, I want to spend more time with my children who have made sacrifices many times during my career and specifically to spend more time with my youngest before he goes to university. With Team 17 now unrecognizable compared to those early days, and with our fantastic senior team working seamlessly across the business and our growth strategy firmly in place, now is the time to focus on the next generation."

What's next for Team 17?

The news comes a year after Team 17 Digital chief exec Michael Pattison pledged to "pull things around" after reports of cultural issues at the studio. In a report published by Eurogamer in February 2022, it was claimed that Bestwick was aware of the issues plaguing the studio—which included low pay, long hours, an unmanageable workloads—but that the CEO was a "formidable" figure who was unable to handle and process criticism.

"There's no way [Bestwick] hasn't seen people complaining about their wages—people who maybe can't afford to turn their heating on, have three meals a day," one anonymous Team 17 staff member told Eurogamer at the time. "I've got friends who had, during the pandemic, a leak in their flat—and they had to get a second job. It's the same stories which come out over and over again and—nothing. Is she truly unaware, is no one telling her? Or does she just not care?"

Looking ahead, Team 17 non-executive chair, Chris Bell, thanked Bestwick for her "absolute devotion" to the company, and reiterated it'll be "business-as-normal" until a successor is appointed.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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