Four years ago, Jade Raymond was a new employee at Ubisoft producing a new game the gaming world hadn’t heard of. That title — “Assassin’s Creed” — turned into the publisher’s biggest franchise. And her oversight of it resulted in Raymond being tapped to run the company’s new Toronto studio — a heavily financed unit that will be responsible for some of Ubisoft’s biggest titles in the years to come.
She initially turned down the promotion. Approached by the company as she was about to go on maternity leave, Raymond was still enjoying her job as executive producer of the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise. It meant supervising not just the game but brand-related projects including books, comics, a Web film series and more. And that work had resulted in worldwide sales of 9 million copies of the $60 game. She was doing similar work on other unannounced projects for the company in Montreal as well.
Ultimately, she changed her mind — and has been hip deep in building the studio since then. Currently, 70 people are employed, but in 10 years that number is projected to reach 800. Already, two AAA titles are under development there, including the next installment of author Tom Clancy’s “Splinter Cell” franchise.
While women tend to have a lower profile in the gaming industry, Raymond says she doesn’t think they face any sort of glass ceiling.
“There are perceptions that are similar to the movie industry,” she says. “The fact that a move like ‘The Hurt Locker’ was made by a woman is surprising to many people. And I think it surprised a lot of people that a woman made ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ which was an action game.”
While she’s now a studio head, Raymond is adamant that she’s not content to sit on the sidelines. She still plans to be elbow-deep in the actual making of new games in addition to her management duties.
“That’s why I got in the games industry,” she says. “To make games.”