Before 100 Thieves and Dr Disrespect decided to develop their own games, Tempo Storm was the first esports organization to take the plunge way back in 2018. In 2021, after more than three years of development, the California-based esports organization founded by professional Hearthstone player and content creator Andrey “reynad” Yanyuk would make a major play to secure four heavy hitters from the game development world to move things along.
On Sept. 2, 2021, Tempo Storm announced that it had hired four seasoned game developers to help bring The Bazaar—its upcoming deckbuilding, card-based strategy game for PC and mobile—to fruition: 343 Industries Executive Producer Erin Krell; Amazon and Wizards of the Coast Senior Game Designer Gregory Marques; Monolith Productions, Amazon, and Microsoft Senior Game Designer Stephen Dewhurst, and former Amazon Design Director Eric Flannum.
Collectively these developers had credits on such hit franchises as Minecraft, Halo, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Warcraft II, Diablo, StarCraft, Sacrifice, The Bard’s Tale, Guild Wars, Guild Wars II, and many others.
Krell joined the company as its new chief operating officer, while Marques and Dewhurst were appointed senior game designer roles, and Flannum was appointed to design director. The goal of these hires was to help Yanyuk and his existing team finish and ship the game.
But something happened during the first year and the game was not shipped by year’s end. Then, between August and October of 2022, almost all of those rockstar hires ended up leaving.
Flannum would stay for a little over a year, before leaving for Wizards of the Coast as a game design director in October 2022. Like Flannum, Marques also made his exit after a little more than a year, taking on a new job as senior lead game designer at Midwinter Entertainment. Finally, Dewhurst left in September of 2022 to join Apex Legends developer Respawn Entertainment as a legends designer. Only Erin Krell remains at the company, as of this writing.
TEA reached out to Krell, Flannum, Marques, and Dewhurst for comment and will update this story should they respond.
A more recent departure from Tempo Storm is veteran game designer, producer, and director Troy Sheets. Sheets has been working in the game development space since 1992 when he joined pc simulation game maker Novalogic. Over the next two decades Sheets would go on to work at THQ, Capcom, Digital Eclipse, Accolade, Unity Technologies, Blue Shift—and most recently—at Intel, where he was in charge of game developer relations. Sheets joined Tempo Storm in December—shortly after the exodus of talent in September and October—and was quickly laid off in January.
While Sheets declined to comment on this story, he did make some public comments in a Jan. 3 social media post: “Last week my new gig at Tempo ended with a layoff. There is no point getting into it, let’s just move on. So, I’m looking for a new gig. A cool project, a new start up, great people… it’s okay to ask for it all, right? Happy New Year everyone!”
Tempo Storm CEO and Founder Andrey “reynad” Yanyuk had no comment when asked about the departures from the company in the latter half of 2022 and Sheets’ rather short term of employment.
While TEA does not know what internal factors are at play on the collective development team—both in-house and its partners in other countries—TEA can confirm that they are not due to any ongoing financial issues.
External factors such as COVID-19 restrictions and the war between Russia and Ukraine (where Yanyuk and his family grew up and where some of Tempo Storm’s development partners live), may have played some role in stalling progress on the game.
One thing that is clear is that the frequency of developer updates and Twitch live streams (featuring the latest builds of the game) stopped coming in 2022. The first glimpse of the game came in February when Yanyuk live streamed a play session featuring a new build on Twitch (and later published on YouTube). That would be the last time The Bazaar would be shown or any progress reports offered until December.
The December video featured Yanyuk talking for a little over two minutes about the game’s progress and noting that the game would be released sometime in 2023. The Bazaar Twitter account was also inactive during most of 2022, with only one tweet going out—in December.
It should be noted (hat tip to Marcus Howard for pointing this out) that FaZe Clan was the first esports organization—way back in 2016—to announce development of a game. Unfortunately, that game was never finished.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with information about FaZe Clan’s unfinished game.