The Initiative Xbox development studio just gained a bunch of God of War talent

We have said this before, and we’ll say it again – the next generation is going to be incredibly interesting. As it stands Sony has gone with radio silence and Microsoft is buying up and building their first-party exclusive line-up for the next generation. No matter what the hardware brings at the end of next year, if the games aren’t interesting no one is going to care. Microsoft knows this all too well.

It has now come to light that their new studio that is made up of ex-Naughty Dog, Respawn and Crystal Dynamics developers have just signed up several new developers who worked on the much praised God of War exclusive on PS4. Ian Miller, Kai Zheng, Chris O’Neill and Ray Yeomans have now all joined The Initiative according to LinkedIn. The Initiative is based in Santa Monica, which would have made the move from Santa Monica Studios an obvious one. Robert Ryan, Naughty Dog’s senior designer, has also moved over.

It also seems that the studio is not done with their acquisitions, as there are many more job opportunities that needs to be filled. Below you’ll find a list of the team so far and where they all come from. If you ask us, it looks like they’re getting ready for an action-adventure game.

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Arlington Cruz, animator
  • Lindsey McQueeney, HR manager (Google, Crystal Dynamics)


Married to a gamer and she kicks my ass at most shooters. If the game is enjoyable I'll play it, no matter the format.

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