In a not-so-surprising move, Jade Raymond announced earlier that she had opened up a new independent studio in Montreal called Haven. It's set to be a place where game developers she's worked with can refocus on making the games they love "without any barriers or impediments." What's even more interesting about this announcement is that Raymond revealed she has partnered with PlayStation to release a new IP on PS5. If you're familiar with her past work, you'll see this as a perfect fit.
Before Google shut down its internal game development studio for Stadia and let go of Raymond, who was heading the initiative, she had previously worked at Ubisoft for several years on the Assassin's Creed series, helping catapult the burgeoning franchise to become one of the most successful in video game history. It's this expertise that makes me excited to see what she and PlayStation will cook up together.
After her time at Ubisoft, Raymond spent years working with Uncharted Creative Director Amy Hennig at Electronic Arts on a couple of secret Star Wars projects. Though these, unfortunately, will never see the light of day — pour one out for Visceral Studios — I wouldn't say the work was wasted like her talents at Stadia. Raymond knows how to produce high-quality games and has worked with some of the best in the business to do it.
In Raymond's announcement, she expresses how PlayStation's beliefs align with her own.
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. We want to make something wondrous for people to experience. Because we believe in the power of games to bring joy to people's lives. And Sony does, too. Their commitment to excellence is unmatched. It's why I couldn't be happier for their backing and support.
While she couldn't share more, she did reveal that Haven is hard at work on a new IP, and I think that's exactly what PlayStation needs. In addition to some big budget spending like Microsoft, it's wise to cultivate these relationships with smaller developers. And given the talent at hand, we could be seeing a game that ends up being an instant hit.
I never quite understood Raymond's role within Stadia. She was supposed to lead Google's first-party studio, but it never produced anything publicly before getting shuttered. Either way, this almost seems like an inevitable move. Google was all about experimental tech and releasing half-baked products for people to essentially beta test over the years, but that doesn't work when you market your platform as a full release. As our editor Michael Hicks wrote, Google has a commitment issue. Raymond will find more solid footing at her own studio alongside PlayStation, and the track record should speak for itself with it comes to its commitment to games. It has some of the most successful and most popular exclusives out there.
It'll likely take years before we get to experience whatever Haven is developing — assuming you've managed to buy a PS5 by then — but I'm hoping this is the start of a long relationship between the two companies. As good as Sony's AAA offerings can be, its indies could use a little love.
Back in July 2020, Sony announced a PlayStation Indies initiative with former company president Shuhei Yoshida leading the charge, meant to bolster its indie catalog and elevate smaller developers. This isn't the first time Sony has shown a long-standing commitment to indies, either. In 2013, the company stated that it would increase its funding in indies heavily. This plan has obviously worked as we've come to see a lot of excellent indie titles release on PlayStation first over the years like Firewatch and No Man's Sky, although it seems like it's leveled off since then. We haven't seen the full results of PlayStation Indies yet, but it's already produced some critical hits like Annapurna's Maquette and, conveniently, a game called Haven.
And even if Raymond's Haven branches out to AAA franchises, it'd still be a win for Sony. If that means Jade Raymond could possibly work on some of PlayStation's legacy IP like Uncharted? I'd be OK with that too.