EA Veteran and Sims Franchise Leader, Joe Nickolls, will Lead as Studio President

  • Timbre Games, a Pipeworks Studios, and sumo Group company, will be a new kind of game studio where diversity, transparency, community, and healthy workplace culture will be in its DNA
  • Zoë Curnoe(Gears of War series) to join as Studio Production Director
  • Geoff Coates(Company of Heroes 2) will be Studio Creative Director
  • Timbre will focus on action/adventure and simulation genres

EUGENE, OR(July 13, 2021)–Pipeworks Studios, a Sumo Group company, today announced its Canadian expansion with the launch of Timbre Games. Joe Nickolls, formerly VP and GM of Maxis / Electronic Arts, is the President and founding Partner of Timbre, bringing over 22 years of experience in AAA game development. Nickolls has previously held senior and executive roles within EA Sports & Mobile, Capcom, and Microsoft.

Based in Eugene, Oregon, Pipeworks has been a quiet global force in gaming for more than 20 years. The team has worked on more than 75 games with partners including EA Sports, Wizards of the Coast, Activision, Facebook, NASA, MetaTeq, and more. Timbre is Pipeworks’ first new studio in NorthAmerica and plans to launch additional studios in the near future.

"We couldn't be more thrilled that Timbre Games is the first of our new studios. We’re inspired by the team's vision and confident they will not only create truly fun games but do so in an inclusive environment where voices are heard and employees thrive." 

- Lindsay Gupton, CEO, Pipeworks Studios

Nickolls is joined by his Timbre co-founders Zoë Curnoe and Geoff Coates, two veteran game developers with deep ties to the Vancouver game development community. Curnoe was most recently the Production Director of the Story Campaign for the Gears of War series at The Coalition. Her role as a producer has taken her to large and small studios worldwide, from Canada’s Rocky Mountains (The Banff Centre for the Arts) to Australia, working for Pandemic/EA and California at Riot Games.

Coates, Timbre’s Studio Creative Director, has a wide range of game experience, including roles as Art and Creative Director on Company of Heroes (Relic), DeadRising 4 (Capcom), and the SSX franchise (EA). Coates has worked on everything from sports titles to strategy games to shooters and racing games. His side hustles include editorial cartoons for a Vancouver paper and relentlessly drawing Nickolls in unprofessional (yet somehow tasteful) workplace attire.

“With Timbre, we wanted to build a studio from the ground up with a focus on diversity, transparency, community involvement in game development, and a sustainable, fun workplace culture,” Nickolls said. “Those priorities are shared by Pipeworks so it was a natural fit from the start. ”We’re going to make great games right across Canada, fully embracing remote work and a hybrid studio approach.”

Leadership at Timbre is committed to looking harder and further for talent with different backgrounds and will partner with local schools and communities to bring in diverse voices. As a new studio, diversity will not be retrofitted, it will be woven into its DNA, resulting in a healthy and productive work environment and phenomenal games everyone will want to play.

Part of Timbre’s mission is to approach game development with the community in mind right from the beginning, even in creating and growing a new studio. Its goal is to involve players much earlier, focusing on early access and community feedback.

“Having the community be a part of the process is something we feel is very important to how we approach development. This will allow us to pivot early and make a better game in the end,” explained Curnoe.

Timbre’s work culture will prioritize having transparent processes and communication and a focus on cross-disciplinary work.“We want people to suggest things even if it’s not their area of responsibility. A truly collaborative team where there is a lot of trust” said Coates.

Timbre Games will focus on the action/adventure and simulation genres drawing on the leadership team’s extensive experience in this area. The studio is currently building its team and is looking to create a blend of experienced industry talent and fresh new voices.

About Sumo Group –www.sumogroupplc.com

Sumo Group’s businesses provide acclaimed development, design, and publishing services to the video games and entertainment industries from studios in the UK, India, Canada, the US, and Poland.

Sumo Digital, as the Group’s primary business, is one of the UK’s largest independent developers of AAA-rated video games, having studios in Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham, Leamington Spa, Warrington, and Pune, India. The business has acquired four studios since IPO, which operate under their own names, BAFTA award-winning The Chinese Room in Brighton, Red Kite Games in Leeds, Lab42 in Leamington Spa, and PixelAnt Games in Wroclaw, Poland. Sumo Digital provides turnkey and co-development solutions to a global blue-chip client base.

Pipeworks is an innovative, well-established, and respected US video games developer based in Eugene, Oregon. It provides full development, co-development, and live operations to premier video game publishers and other partners.

Atomhawk is a multi-award-winning visual design company, with studios in Newcastle and in Vancouver (Canada), servicing the games, film, and visual effects industries.

Secret Mode is a video games publisher, focused on delivering fresh and new gaming experiences to players and building expansive and fulfilling communities around those games. It will publish titles developed within Sumo Group and also by independent developers.


Eileen Tanner
Zebra Partners

Colette Vignocchi
Zebra Partners

Visit the Timbre Website