Microsoft’s The Initiative Hires Two Former Naughty Dog Staff | IGN

Microsoft’s secretive AAA studio, The Initiative, has added more former Sony first-party studio employees to its ranks. This time the new employees are an ex-Naughty Dog animator who worked on the Uncharted series and both The Last of Us games, plus one of Naughty Dog’s former technical directors.

Lee Davis, formerly Naughty Dog’s Head of Melee Animation, has been appointed as The Initiative’s Lead Gameplay Animator. Lauren Garcia, who was previously Naughty Dog’s Character Shading Technical Director, is now Senior Shading Technologies at Microsoft’s self-described “AAAA” developer.

Garcia announced his new position on Twitter, while Davis’ appointment was spotted on LinkedIn by Twitter user Klobrille.

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Both Davis and Garcia worked on The Last of Us: Part 2, which was critically acclaimed for both its animation and the visual fidelity of its characters. Davis also worked on Uncharted 2, Uncharted 4, and the original The Last of Us.

Davis and Garcia are the latest additions to The Initiative, and not the first from a major Sony studio; back in 2018 the developer hired former God of War producer Brian Westergaard. Alongside these ex-Sony developers are staff who previously worked at Crystal Dynamics and Bungie. These latest hires point to The Initiative potentially looking to replicate the high standards of animation found in Naughty Dog’s games.

What The Initiative is working on is currently unknown, but earlier this year there were rumours that the studio is developing a reboot of Perfect Dark.

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Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Entertainment Writer. 
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