The Initiative is a first-party Xbox game studio based in Santa Monica, California. The company was announced in June 2018, with a mandate to create “ambitious and innovative game experiences” for Xbox.
The studio’s most recent hires include senior Apex Legends designer Sean Slayback, BioWare lead animator Ryan Duffin, Uncharted 4 artist Ryan Trowbridge and Doom 2016 environment artist Justin Walters, according to LinkedIn.
The four follow a group of God of War designers through the doors of the growing Xbox studio.
Microsoft is building an experienced team at The Initiative, led by game director Daniel Neuburger, who was a game director on the Tomb Raider series, and lead designer Drew Murray, who held the same role on Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive.
The studio’s director of production, Brian Westergaard, also worked on God of War as senior managing producer.
Fiona Cherbak, the former talent acquisition lead at Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios, recently joined Microsoft to help with its expansion of Xbox Game Studios, with a focus on staffing up The Initiative.
Given the experience of its creators on series like Tomb Raider, God of War and Uncharted, it’s likely that The Initiative is staffing up for a third-person action game.
The company is part of a new drive at Xbox to significantly expand its portfolio of first-party studios.
As well as setting up The Initiative and a new Age of Empires studio, Xbox has recently acquired the likes of Ninja Theory (Hellblade), Playground (Forza Horizon), Obsidian (Fallout: New Vegas), InXile (Wasteland 3) and Double Fine (Psychonauts 2).
Xbox’s Initiative Dev Team (August 2019)
- Darrell Gallagher, studio head (Activision, Square Enix)
- Annie Lohr, recruiter (Respawn, Treyarch)
- Daniel Neuburger, game director (Tomb Raider series)
- Drew Murray, lead designer (Sunset Overdrive)
- Christian Cantamessa, narrative consultant (Red Dead Redemption)
- Brain Westergaard, director of production (God of War, Tomb Raider series)
- Blake Fischer, director of narrative (Xbox)
- Chris O’Neill, lead level designer (God of War + Metal Gear Online)
- Robert Ryan, senior systems designer (Motive + Naughty Dog)
- Ian Miller, senior designer (God of War)
- Kai Zheng, senior designer (God of War)
- Sean Slaybeck , lead systems designer (Apex Legends)
- Ray Yeomans, senior designer (God of War & Tomb Raider series)
- Tom Sherpherd, technical director (GTA V, Red Dead Redemption 2)
- William Archbell, technical director (Riot Games, 343)
- Christopher Ng, technical designer
- Cristian Guzman, associate technical director
- Ben Diamond, lead systems engineer (Respawn, God of War III)
- Cesar Castro, senior software engineer (EA Sports UFC, FIFA)
- Robert Marr, lead gameplay engineer (Cryptic Studios)
- Victoria Miller, producer (PlayStation)
- Irma Ward, associate producer
- Ryan Trowbridge, technical art director (Uncharted 4)
- Justin Walters, lead environment artist
- Matt Corcoran, principal character artist (Jurassic World movie)
- Sze Jones, principal character artist (Tomb Raider, Uncharted 4)
- Branford Williams, principal production designer (Daybreak)
- Oliver Guiney, concept artist (Black Ops 4)
- Isaac Yeram Kim, concept artist (Naughty Dog)
- Ryan Duffin, gameplay animation director (Battlefield V)
- Arlington Cruz, animator
- Lindsey McQueeney, HR manager (Google, Crystal Dynamics)