Former 'Call of Duty,' 'Dead Space' Creative Director Forms New Independent Studio

Bret Robbins' Ascendant Studios is currently working on its first title and aims to create "expansive, AAA games of the highest quality."
Courtesy of Ascendant Studios
Inset: Ascendant Studios founder Bret Robbins

Former EA and Sledgehammer Games creative director Bret Robbins unveiled the formation of a new independent video game studio, Ascendant Studios, on Thursday. The new studio is backed by Brian Sheth, co-founder and president of private equity software investor Vista Equity Partners.

Robbins formed the new studio with a collection of industry veterans from Sledgehammer, EA and the recently shuttered Telltale Games, among other developers, to work on "expansive, AAA games of the highest quality."

"I always wanted to start my own company and make my own game," Robbins tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We’ve got a lot of veterans and we’re just getting started and we’re going. We’ve got people from AAA games and indie games, so we're trying to get a lot of different experiences in the building."

Robbins boasts an impressive resume as a game developer, having previously served as the senior creative director at Sledgehammer for the Call of Duty series where he worked on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and 2017's Call of Duty: WWII. Prior to that, he held senior creative roles at EA over his seven-year tenure, working on such titles as The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and the survival horror classic Dead Space.

With Ascendant Studios, Robbins now commands an independent studio but with the experience and funding to create big-budget AAA titles. 

"We are in a rare position where we have the freedom to do things the right way without outside pressure and make something that is truly new and exciting," he says. 

Ascendant Studios is located in San Rafael, Calif. and is currently at work on developing its first game. When asked about the in-the-works title, Robbins is tight-lipped but does give a few hints.

"We're not talking about the game yet, but I can say we’re going for absolutely AAA quality and production values," he says. "It’s going to be an original IP and it's a world that we’re creating."