Chances are the average gaming fan may not necessarily know who Jade Raymond even is, but they’ve probably played one of the games she’s worked on. Producing multiple AAA games throughout her career, from Ubisoft to EA, Raymond has been a dignified member of the gaming industry for a long time. She’s executive produced games in iconic franchises like Assassin’s Creed 2, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Watch Dogs, Far Cry 4, and Star Wars Battlefront 2. Most recently, Raymond was working with Stadia as head of Stadia Games & Entertainment, before Stadia decided to shut down its in-house development studio in February. Now, she’s working with Sony.
A little over a month after Stadia Games & Entertainment’s shuttering, Jade Raymond has formed her own independent game development studio. Even more, the studio has already partnered with Sony for a new PlayStation IP. Obviously, any big studio that Sony’s able to tap into for exclusive PlayStation games is a big deal, but that is especially true for Raymond’s new Haven Studios in Montreal. Sony undertook a great opportunity with securing Haven Studios’ exclusive IP. Other than Haven Studios itself remaining independent of PlayStation, this PlayStation-exclusive IP is yet another subtle but huge win for Sony, at the loss of Stadia’s shifting strategy.
For context, Jade Raymond is a subtle but important name for the gaming industry. She had initially started in the gaming industry as a programmer at Sony Online Entertainment (now known as Daybreak Game Company) before moving on to Ubisoft Montreal for several years. She was a producer on the inaugural Assassin’s Creed games, from the first entry to the formative Assassin’s Creed 2. Her tenure at Ubisoft from 2004 to 2015 also included producing Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Watch Dogs, as well as managing director of Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4.
Raymond later moved on to EA, where she worked with Amy Hennig on Project Ragtag at Visceral Games, as well as created the at-the-time brand new Motive Studios. However, in late 2019, Raymond ended up departing Motive Studios to work on a “secret” project. That project would eventually be revealed in 2019 as Google Stadia. Jade Raymond was hired by Google to run the first-party, in-house development studio known as Stadia Games & Entertainment. After her brief tenure at Google, Raymond has now found the opportunity most recently to establish her own independent studio, which leads to the announcement today.
Sony seems to have partnered with Haven Studios at the right time, based on what Raymond seemed to indicate in the PlayStation blog today. “I’ve had the opportunity to lead the creation of two highly successful original IPs and build multiple teams and studios from the ground up.” Raymond reflected. “Some of these adventures have been more successful than I could have ever imagined, and others less so.”
Without reading too far in-between the lines, Google’s closure of Stadia’s first-party development studio may have indirectly influenced Raymond’s decision to focus on independent efforts. Even though Sony will be backing and supporting Haven Studios’ inaugural IP as a PlayStation exclusive, the blog post makes it immediately clear that Haven Studios will remain independent. Raymond intends to emphasize Haven Studios as an opportunity in her career, as well as the many developers and staff’s careers, to focus unerringly on the development of games. That much is evident in Raymond’s post on the PlayStation Blog, which echoes that sentiment many times:
“It’s time for us to refocus on GAMES in a place where we can practice our crafts without any barriers or impediments. We want to create worlds where players can escape, have fun, express themselves, and find community. We want to pour our passion into a project.”
Raymond has oftentimes in her career spent much of her time in executive positions, setting up studios for success before moving on and fostering success elsewhere. She’s also worked in ambitious sectors of the gaming industry, Stadia included, that haven’t panned out for various reasons largely beyond her control. Haven Studios seem to be a direct response to that, as an effort independent of exterior factors that allows her team to create the game solely based on their creative vision. Sony is the perfect publisher and partnership for that notion as well, as evidenced by the many third-party PlayStation exclusives that have seen great success in the last few years.
Obviously, being this early on in development, Raymond and Haven Studios had nothing to say about this unannounced IP other than it would be PlayStation exclusive. That being said, Stadia’s loss in potential has evidently become Sony’s gain, evidenced by how much has changed since Jade Raymond left Google in February. Not only did Raymond successfully found her own independent studio, but Haven Studios was also able to partner with PlayStation in just over a month after Raymond’s departure from Stadia. It’s a testament to the work she’s done in her career thus far, and plans to do in the near future, potentially as PlayStation’s next big exclusive IP.
Sony has, over time, acquired and partnered with a ton of notable directors and icons from the gaming industry for PlayStation. Jade Raymond joins iconic personnel like Hideo Kojima, Cory Barlog, Neil Druckmann, and many, many more, whilst also being able to remain an independent studio free to work on the projects they want to. Similar to Kojima Productions, Raymond seems to infer that her career had become increasingly restricted in some form, and that Haven Studios’ independence is a direct response to that. It’ll be exciting to see what Haven Studios has in store for PlayStation fans in the near future, as this “passion project” could be the PS5’s next big hit.
Source: PlayStation Blog