The new senior director of cloud gaming is now the highly sought after designer who created Portal and Left 4 Dead. Kim Swift joins Xbox after her time at Google as game design director at Stadia Games & Entertainment, which recently shut down its first-party game development arm earlier this year.
Xbox Game Studios publishing head Peter Wyse told Polygon that Kim Swift joins Xbox 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 three billion gamers to play our games.”
That mission is all part of Microsoft’s ongoing exploration and investments into cloud gaming as part of their goal to serve games everywhere to players anywhere. Wyse admits that this vision of “cloud-native games” is as much exploration as it is ambition. “We don’t know exactly what that looks like today, or what that even plays like,” he said.
Kim Swift got her start being personally hired to develop Portal by Valve’s Gabe Newell. Newell hired her on the basis of the physics-based designs she and her fellow design graduates exhibited in Narbacular Drop. While at Valve, she contributed to the design of Left 4 Dead and its sequel. Swift departed in 2009 for Airtight Games, where she led the mad science puzzle platformer game Quantum Conundrum.
In 2014, Swift was brought in by Amazon to help build games in their nascent internal studio, officially serving as a senior designer for undisclosed — and it seems, unreleased, projects. In 2017, she joined the high profile Motive Studios in Montreal, led by Jade Raymond under the watch of Electronic Arts, where Star Wars Battlefront II was developed.
Hopefully, Swift’s time at Google has empowered her with lessons that will help her cut through the bull and yield results more fruitful than those anyone had at Stadia. Wyse had this to say about Swift’s place at Xbox: “Today we’re proud to share that Kim Swift is joining the team to help accelerate our innovation and collaborate with studios who are looking to join us on our journey.”