Industry vet Laralyn McWilliams has passed away

Industry vet Laralyn McWilliams has passed away

Veteran game designer Laralyn McWilliams has passed away aged 58.

The influential developer died due to complications from heart surgery on February 5th, 2024. She is best known for her work as creative director on Sony Online Entertainment's Free Realms, as well as Full Spectrum Warrior and Sid Meier's Pirates.

More recently, she is credited on projects including Gears of War 4, The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners and Nightdive's System Shock remake.

Back in 2021, McWilliams was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards to recognise her long and accomplished career.

On Twitter, industry peers paid their respects to McWilliams. 

"Laralyn McWilliams was a true OG of the game industry and a close friend," fellow development vet Brenda Romero wrote.

"It took me forever to write this through tears, to figure out what I wanted to say. I remember crying at one point during one of her battles with cancer, thinking 'You have to write what you know down! Write a book. It’s going to be lost.' Yet, in the window of time between her passing and this post, I’ve seen dozens and dozens of people talk about what she shared with them, what they learned, and so I suppose she left her mark on people, on games, on designs, and I think she’d like that a lot more than pages in a book that can be closed. Rest in peace, Laralyn. Thank you for all you’ve done, and thanks for being my friend."

Adam Orth added: "Very saddened to hear of the passing of Laralyn today. She was so kind to me, a fighter and such an inspiration. She faced incomprehensible health battles and always made the best of each day. The game industry lost someone special today.

"RIP, Laralyn."

Meanwhile, Private Division's Kari Toyama said: "Laralyn McWilliams was a fiercely talented game developer who dedicated so much time to sharing her knowledge with others. She was kind and genuine and we will miss her. Rest easy."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.