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Cristian Pana’s Incredible Journey from Accountant to Tester to Head of New Amazon Games Studio in Bucharest

May 21, 2024

Amazon Games is reinforcing its commitment to delivering world-class video games with the launch of its new internal development studio in Bucharest, Romania. Leading this exciting venture is veteran video game developer Cristian Pana, who boasts an impressive track record of more than 20 years at renowned publishers like Ubisoft.

While Cristian is a well-known and respected fixture in the video game community as a leader and champion for all things gaming, his origin story begins far from the industry he now calls home.

“I started my career as a game tester over 20 years ago here in Bucharest,” Cristian said. “It was a complete departure from my career as a licensed accountant. I always wanted to be in games. As a kid and teenager, I always dreamed about a job where I could play games for a living, and being a game tester is the closest I could imagine. I immediately jumped into this wonderful, ever-changing entertainment industry when I had the first opportunity. And since then, I've loved every day of my gaming career.”

Throughout childhood, Cristian was an avid gamer, playing countless hours of his favorite titles, such as Railroad Tycoon, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Super Mario Bros. After his video game testing days ended, Cristian spent 20 years in a variety of game development positions and disciplines, including compliance specialist, project closer, producer, executive producer, and more. His career has taken him to multiple studios around the world, including stints in Shanghai, Toronto, Montreal, Lyon, Newcastle, Malmo, and back to Bucharest in 2020 when he was named Managing Director of Ubisoft’s Romania and Serbia studios.

With more than 20 years at Ubisoft, Cristian has overseen different parts of development for several popular AAA titles, including Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Driver San Francisco, Far Cry 3, Splinter Cell Blacklist, The Crew, and Tom Clancy’s The Division.

“Many projects come to mind from different parts of my career, but if I have to choose one that I’m most proud of, it would be Tom Clancy's The Division,” Cristian said. “It's the game when after the launch of the first title, I took over the brand, and I was in charge of developing the post-launch content for the first iteration of the game while starting the plans and the team for the second iteration. The Division 2 is going strong even five years after its launch, and I'm thrilled with the game's results. I still believe it's one of the best productions we worked on.”

Cristian credits the success of those aforementioned titles to working alongside a fantastic team of collaborators, which is precisely what he’s looking to build at the new Amazon Games studio in Bucharest. “The most important characteristic for people on my team to have is a passion for games and gaming,” he said. “It's an interesting and dynamic entertainment industry that you need to be in touch with. Then, I also look for people who are self-driven, motivated, ambitious, and not easily satisfied with the status quo. This makes for very dynamic team mechanics and an ability to adapt to different opportunities quickly. I like people who are responsible, owners of their part in the game, proud of what they're creating, and last but not least, who are playing what they make.”

Regarding leadership, Cristian credits former colleagues who have inspired him throughout various stages of his career, which has made him a more effective and responsible leader. “I like to give a lot of ownership and autonomy to team members,” Cristian said. “I like to jump in, help and support whenever needed, and I'm always available for the team. I like to be transparent as well. I think it's essential that everybody has the right level of information because that will help us to progress in different areas. It helps to be decisive and move things very fast.”

With Cristian’s diverse and acclaimed background working alongside some of the industry’s best talent, we’re incredibly excited to welcome him to the team at Amazon Games.

“What attracted me the most was that Amazon can open something and positively influence game development in Europe,” Cristian said. “Amazon is a desirable company to work for, and we expect the new studio in Romania will attract a lot of top industry talent."

See this post for more about the new Amazon Games studio in Bucharest.

Interested in joining us? Check out the current Amazon Games openings at the Bucharest studio and beyond!