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JJ Abrams Picks Ex-Valve and Oculus Developer to Lead Bad Robot Games Studio

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The brain behind Counter-Strike’s official bot has a new gig. Michael Booth, the creator behind Left 4 Dead (which wouldn’t exist without that bot), has left a position at Facebook’s Oculus to head up Bad Robot Games Studio, a new venture within writer/director JJ Abrams’ film and television production company.

GamesBeat reports that Booth—who also had a stint at Blizzard, worked on Team Fortress 2 while at Valve, and on Command & Conquer at EA before that—will be the new studio’s general manager. He’ll report to Bad Robot Games CEO and fellow former Valve and Oculus developer Anna Sweet. Sweet will oversee Booth’s team at Bad Robot while also working on co-development deals with outside teams.

Seeing both Booth and Sweet land at Abrams’ new push into gaming is perhaps a long time coming. Over a decade ago, as projects like Lost and Cloverfield cememented Abrams as a household name, he began a long partnership with Valve and founder Gabe Newell. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 included a prominent Lost easter egg, which was later followed by a playable teaser (a P.T. if you will) for Super 8 in Portal 2 and, finally, an announcement in 2013 that Abrams would adapt Portal and Half-Life as films.

Of course, what with Disney’s Star Wars sequel landing in his lap at around the same time (and, somewhat unexpectedly, the trilogy’s capper after that), the lag time between those game-focused days and this new Bad Robot initiative makes sense.

While Booth and Sweet both have experience with VR, it doesn’t seem like that’ll be a major focus for Bad Robot Games: the internal studio’s first project will be “a triple-A title for the PC and consoles[.]” Bad Robot Games will focus on leveraging its parent company’s multimedia backing, seeking to create “worlds that are expansive, and can cross media but don’t necessarily start in film or TV”—in other words, don’t assume the next entry in the odd Cloverfield canon (if there really is one) will be a game.

Booth also recently announced his role as a Creative Director on Demeo, a VR fantasy RPG from Resolution Games. Demeo is expected to launch for “most major VR headsets” and PC next year.

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