Xbox’s head of research and design departs after nearly two decades

Chris Novak has been with the company since 2002

Xbox head of research and design Chris Novak has left the company after nearly 20 years.

Novak shared a message on his LinkedIn page yesterday (April 19) where he announced that he was leaving his position at Xbox (thanks, VGC). “I have resigned from Xbox and from Microsoft, and my last day is today, the 19th,” wrote Novak. “I started at Xbox in November of 2002, so after nearly 20 years I know this news can either come as a surprise, or as expected. It’s a mix of both!”

The former head of research and design spoke of how much he loved his time at Xbox, saying he adores “listening to gamers and envisioning that next moment of unexpected delight… Xbox will always be with me.”

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Though Novak didn’t provide a specific reason as to why he is leaving Xbox after almost two decades at the company, he noted a “significant event outside of work” that led to this decision. “I’m going to spend some time doing a life and design tour everywhere I can.”

Since joining Xbox in 2002, Novak has worked in a variety of roles, starting as a design director for titles like Crackdown and the first Forza Motorsport. In 2009 he switched the role of design architect for Microsoft Studios, working as part of the initial design team for HoloLens.

Novak has been head of Xbox research and design since 2016, leading the work on improving the user experience for gamers playing on Microsoft devices.

In other news, Uncharted director Amy Hennig will be making a new Star Wars game at Skydance New Media.

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“I’ve often described how seeing Star Wars in 1977 essentially rewired my 12-year-old brain, shaping my creative life and future indelibly,” said Hennig on the new project. “I’m elated to be working with Lucasfilm Games again to tell interactive stories in this galaxy that I love.”

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