Microsoft’s secret AAA studio, The Initiative, has added more former Sony first-party studio employees to its ranks. This time, the new employees are a former Naughty Dog animator in the Uncharted series and one of the former technical directors of both The Last of Us and Naughty Dog. Lee Davis, formerly Head of Close Combat Animation for Naughty Dog, has been appointed as Lead Game Animator for The Initiative. Lauren Garcia, formerly Director of Character Shading for Naughty Dog, is currently working as Senior Shading Technologies at Microsoft’s self-term “AAAA” developer.
Davis and Garcia worked on The Last of Us: Part 2, which was critically acclaimed for both its animation and the visual fidelity of their 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 of a big Sony studio; In 2018, the developer hired former God of War producer Brian Westergaard. Besides these former Sony developers, there are also some staff who previously worked at Crystal Dynamics and Bungie. These new hires show that The Initiative is potentially trying to replicate the high animation standards found in Naughty Dog’s games.