Google Stadia Game Design Director joins Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios Publishing team

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Microsoft revealed today that it has made a new high-profile hire to bolster its Xbox Game Studios Publishing team. Kim Swift, a video games veteran who worked on Portal and Left 4 Dead has left her Game Design Director position at Google Stadia to become Senior Director of Cloud Gaming at Xbox Game Studios Publishing.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Swift previously worked for the publishing department overseeing design for second-party projects at Google Stadia, and she also led a team working on experimental first-party projects. Peter Wyse, Head of Xbox Game Studios Publishing said in an interview with Polygon that “Kim is going to build a team focused on new experiences in the cloud, something that’s going to support our mission of bringing our Xbox games to connect 3 billion gamers to play our games.”

Overall, this is an interesting hire for Microsoft, and it follows the news of Google closing all of its internal studios making first-party games for the company’s Stadia cloud gaming platform. A lot of Stadia execs have since left the company, including Stadia VP & Head of Games Entertainment Jade Raymond, who went to open a new studio developing exclusive games for PlayStation.

Microsoft is on a journey to help developers build cloud-native games, and the Xbox Game Studios Publishing team also shared today its three core pillars for second-party projects, which are Community, Innovation, and Inclusivity. “You can see this come to focus in a game like Tell Me Why,” Wyse told Polygon. “We’re super proud of that game. It speaks to our values around LGBTQIA+ representation, mental health awareness, and more.”

Last year, the Xbox Game Studios Publishing team also brought us critically-acclaimed games with Microsoft Flight Simulator and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, which have both been made by small external studios punching well above their weight. Upcoming second-party projects include Contraband, a co-op experience developed by Avalanche Studios (Just Cause), and there’s also As Dusk Falls, the new interactive adventure from INTERIOR/NIGHT that Microsoft revealed last year.