There comes a time when a veteran member of the game industry decides they need to leave their current setting in order to pursue other creative projects. In most cases, company and employee part ways amicably, with all eyes on the latter to see what they'll show the world next. It's been happening a lot lately, with Cliffy B leaving Epic Games, Notch selling Mojang and leaving Minecraft behind, Dean Hall leaving Bohemia Interactive and DayZ, John Carmack leaving id Software to join Oculus VR full-time, Rod Fergusson leaving Epic Games and then Irrational Games, etc.
In today's case, a big name in the game industry has departed from Ubisoft, with the company announcing that producer Jade Raymond is parting ways with the developer/publisher after 10 years of service. Raymond, who served as producer on the first Assassin's Creed and exec producer on its first sequel which launched Ubisoft's flagship game franchise. She also had a hand in other Ubisoft franchises like Watch Dogs and Splinter Cell. In 2009, she helped with the creation of the Ubisoft Toronto studio and took on the role of managing director, seeing the company through the release of their first full triple-A title in Splinter Cell Blacklist last year.
Prior to her start Ubisoft in 2004, Raymond's first industry gig was at Sony as a programmer. She later moved on to EA where she worked on The Sims Online while also helping as a correspondent for The Electric Playground TV show. Raymond notes how her departure from the developer/publisher was a tough decision, but remains confident in Ubisoft Toronto's talent and current gameplan for the future:
"I've spent 10 extraordinary years at Ubisoft, and I am proud to have been part of many of the best teams in the industry making truly remarkable games. This is one of the hardest decisions of my career, but the Toronto studio is strong and on a solid path. Stay tuned for more on what’s next for me, but for now, I'd like to thank Ubisoft for its partnership through the years, and I wish them the very best in all their next endeavors."
Alexandre Parizeau, a founding member of Ubisoft Toronto, will succeed Raymond as managing director as of next week, on October 29, 2014. Similar to his predecessor, Parizeau has been in the game industry for quite some time (15 years) and also worked on the Splinter Cell series (specifically as senior producer on Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, and producer on Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction), in addition to Rainbow Six Vegas.
In his new role, Parizeau will watch over the Ubisoft Toronto's "continued role as a key contributor to the development of some of the biggest brands at Ubisoft," which also includes a handful of unannounced games. According to Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto, Parizeau was the most appropriate choice to take over the position after Raymond, most likely due to his experience as a producer, as well as his time at Ubisoft. Mallat went on to address Jade Raymond's departure, commending her for all the work she put in while at Ubisoft:
"On behalf of Ubisoft, I’d like to thank Jade for her leadership and many contributions over the years, and wish her all the best in her next adventures.”
Raymond didn't mention what she had planned for the future, but she assures Polygon that she's not leaving the industry. The reasons pertaining to why she decided to leave are still up for speculation, however.
As mentioned previously, Splinter Cell Blacklist was the first game released by Ubisoft Toronto, but ended up underperforming in terms of overall sales. And while the next entry in the series could change things up again, potentially moving further away from its roots in stealth, the creative drive to work on such a game may be gone. Or perhaps, maybe the upcoming games being developed at Ubisoft Toronto aren't of interest to Raymond.
It'll certainly be interesting to see where Raymond ends up post-Ubisoft. There are many other studios out there that could benefit from her experience, but there's always the possibility that she'll go the indie route to pursue something she couldn't while with Ubisoft. The press release detailing her departure did specifically state that both parties agreed to follow their future endeavors separately. There's something to be said for wanting to work on your own ideas, a opposed to following a pre-existing plan.