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Phoenix Labs execs regroup to form Critical Path Games

"I think our goals are more ambitious this time, and I think our focus will be tighter."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

January 8, 2024

2 Min Read
The Critical Path Games logo on a black background
Image via Critical Path Games

Former Phoenix labs COO Jeanne-Marie Owens and CEO Jesse Houston have reunited to co-found new studio Critical Path Games.

The pair announced the move in separate posts on Linkedin and outlined their vision for a studio that will "explore uncharted territories in gaming" while allowing the pair to "get back to basics."

"I am so damn excited to go back to our scrappier start-up roots and to be a part of the game development again," wrote Owens.

"Having the opportunity to take what we learned on our first playthrough and run this level again, is an incredible privilege, especially in today's market. I think our goals are more ambitious this time, and I think our focus will be tighter, and I can't wait to see what we will find along the way."

During their time at Phoenix Labs, known for developing the likes of Dauntless and Fae Farm, Owens and Houston helped the studio expand to over 350 employees across six countries. They also sold the company twice before helping the studio regain its independence.

"All those achievements did feel pretty great along the way [...] but there were also things that I missed and my day-to-day work didn't spark joy the same way it used to," added Owens. "Even though I look forward to seeing Phoenix Labs continue to grow and release fantastic titles, it was time for a change for me personally."

Critical Path founders hoping to rediscover the joy of creation

Houston shared similar sentiments and said that while leaving Phoenix Labs was a "bittersweet experience" he felt the urge to jump back into the trenches of development.

"I realized that my happiest moments were those spent in close collaboration with a team, actively involved in the creative process of making games. While leading Phoenix Labs was an enriching experience, I missed being hands-on in game development," said Houston.

"These past few months have been rejuvenating. I've returned to the roots of my passion–coding, creating art, brainstorming gameplay ideas, and trying new things. Every day has been about building, experimenting, and rediscovering the joy of game creation."

Critical Path is currently looking to hire and indicated in-office collaboration will be a fundamental part of its workplace culture.

"Proudly located in Vancouver, Canada, our strength lies in teamwork, trust, and collaboration. We are a co-located team that believes in the power of in-person interactions to fuel creativity, focus, and rapid development," reads a Linkedin post outlining the studio's ambitions.

"Our adventure is bold and ambitious. We're dedicated to crafting innovative, new game experiences for players across the globe. We're not just following trends; we're setting out to forge our own path and build the next great video game genre."

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About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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