Industry veteran Jade Raymond is in charge of turning Google into a major video game publisher — and that has huge ramifications (GOOG, GOOGL)


Jade Raymond Stadia

  • On Tuesday, Google announced Stadia, a new video game streaming service that could usher in a new era of cloud-based gaming. 
  • Jade Raymond, who Google recently hired as a vice president, will be leading the in-house teams creating games specifically for Stadia. 
  • With Raymond, Google has a seasoned industry veteran at the helm — and also makes a powerful statement in an industry with a well-earned reputation as being toxic to women. 

In Tuesday, Google announced its huge new push into gaming: a streaming service called Stadia, which it promises will bring high-quality games to just about any device. 

And in the last minutes of its hour-long keynote came its final big reveal: Jade Raymond, a long-time industry veteran, will be leading Stadia Games and Entertainment — a division that will create games and other experiences specifically for the service. 

News that Google had hired Raymond came out last week, though no one knew then what exactly she’d be doing for the search giant. She’ll be working with Google VP Phil Harrison, who has stints with PlayStation and Xbox under his belt.

Raymond is an industry veteran best known for helping to create and shepherd the blockbuster “Assassin’s Creed” series, having worked at publisher Ubisoft for much of her career. But she also worked at EA, where she was overseeing games including the hotly-anticipated “Star Wars: 1313.” However, she left EA in October, in the wake of the cancellation of “1313” and the closure of developer Visceral. 

Ultimately, Raymond is more than just a top executive. As Google plants its flag in the video game business, hiring Raymond can be taken as a sign that the search giant is also trying to do its part in making the industry more welcoming to women.

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A big opportunity

As harsh as the whole tech industry has been to women, the video game world might actually be worse. It’s been described as downright toxic to players, game developers, video game journalists, and even female characters in games.

Six years ago, when the blog Feminist Frequency shined a light on toxic attitudes towards women and sexist tropes in the video game industry, the author Anita Sarkeesian, received threats of violence. Today, Sarkeesian says her work helped bring much-needed attention to the subject.

jade raymondThe gaming industry is aware of its reputation but its progress to make gaming less hostile has been slow.

Just this month, Valve, which runs market-leading PC game store (and, now, Stadia competitor) Steam, was pressured into withdrawing support for a new indie title slated to come its service: a game about raping women. After public outcry, Valve said it wouldn’t allow the title to come to the Steam store. 

So the gaming industry needs more high profile, powerful women in top roles that can turn the industry away from its misogynistic ways.

More women running new gaming services could at least translate into better women game characters, fewer sexist tropes in games, and more women entering the game development world. Ultimately, it could very well result in more women playing games — which would mean a big opportunity on which Google could be poised to capitalize.

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Victory not assured

Not that Raymond may not be automatically successful at Google, which has sometimes come under fire for how it treats matters of gender equality.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that founder Larry Page offered a giant golden parachute to its star Android developer when that man was under an internal investigation for sexual-misconduct complaints.

And Google has previously hired women executives to lead major businesses, only to have them leave a relatively short time later. Last year, for instance, Diane Green stepped down as CEO of Google Cloud after only about three years in the role — and was replaced by a man, Thomas Kurian, who was hired from Oracle. 

That said, Raymond is a fantastic choice as one of the main faces for its push into gaming and Google deserves props for hiring her.

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