Former Google Stadia game design director Kim Swift has been hired by Microsoft as a senior director at Xbox Cloud Gaming, the company’s game streaming division.
Swift had been working at Stadia Games & Entertainment, Stadia’s internal first-party development wing, until Google shuttered the studio in February. Prior to Google, Swift played a key role in the development of Valve’s acclaimed Portal and Left 4 Dead series.
Our team focuses on three pillars in our games: Community, Innovation and Inclusivity. Today, @K2TheSwift joins us in XGS Publishing to accelerate our Innovation and collaborate with independent studios to build games for the cloud.
Welcome to the team, Kim! pic.twitter.com/pM3E5Xxyrt
— Xbox Game Studios Publishing (@XboxPublishing) June 21, 2021
“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,” Xbox Game Studios publishing boss Peter Wyse told Polygon in a recent interview.
Interestingly, VentureBeat‘s Jeff Grubb, a credible games industry tipster, says Swift was specifically hired by Xbox to work on the next project from legendary games director Hideo Kojima. The Metal Gear creator most recently worked with PlayStation on the action-adventure game Death Stranding, which is getting a ‘director’s cut’ on PS5. His next project is “still in the early design phases,” according to Grubb.
In April, Grubb reported that Xbox was “in talks” with Kojima about publishing his next game, although he noted then that a deal had not been closed. While a deal has still not been finalized, according to Grubb, Swift’s hiring was made “in part to specifically aid Kojima.” Grubb says this is because he had previously been discussing working with Stadia on his next game. VideoGameChronicle editor Andy Robinson, another credible industry figure, corroborated this on Twitter.
Kojima had been looking at Google as a possible partner based on his interest in developing games for the cloud, which he’d expressed publicly leading up to the release of Death Stranding.
“I think within the next few years, gaming will move on to streaming,” Kojima told the BBC in November 2019. “I’m very interested in the new format of game that will appear on [streaming]. And that’s what I want to take on.”
Given that information, it seems that Xbox is leveraging its extensive cloud gaming work and Swift’s new hiring to win over Kojima. Overall, Xbox has long-term plans for streaming technology that Kojima might find appealing. Included at no additional cost as part of a $16.99 CAD/month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, Xbox Cloud Gaming service is currently available in beta on iOS, Android and browsers and offers the ability to stream many dozens of titles.
Additionally, Xbox recently confirmed that it will expand Cloud Gaming via dedicated streaming devices, smart TV apps, console streaming and more. This is part of the company’s larger effort to bring its titles to the three billion people who play games globally, particularly on mobile.
“[Xbox boss] Phil [Spencer] always talks about that journey of getting the three billion players,” Wyse told Polygon. “I do get super excited about the idea of high-fidelity gaming on a phone […] that’s the carrot I keep chasing, for sure.”
It remains to be seen whether Kojima and Xbox will ultimately close a deal.