Jason Rubin

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Jason Rubin
Rubin speaking at Step into the Rift, 2015
Born1970 (age 53–54)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
  • Video game director
  • writer
  • comic book creator
Years active1984–present

Jason Rubin (born 1970) is an American video game director, writer, and comic book creator. He is best known for the Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series of games which were produced by Naughty Dog, the game development studio he co-founded with partner and childhood friend Andy Gavin in 1986.[1][2] He was the president of THQ[3] before its closure due to bankruptcy on January 23, 2013.[4] Rubin is the vice president of Metaverse Content at Meta Platforms.


Rubin and Andy Gavin formed Naughty Dog in 1984. Later that year, they published their first game together — a budgetware title called Ski Crazed. In 1989, Rubin and Gavin sold their first game to Electronic Arts: a role-playing game called Keef the Thief.[5]

While Gavin was an undergraduate in Haverford College and Rubin was attending the University of Michigan, they collaborated with each other on their next title: a role-playing game called Rings of Power.[6] The game began as a PC title, but during meetings at Electronic Arts Gavin spotted a reverse engineered Sega Genesis, pitched a slightly modified version of the title to Trip Hawkins, and the title became the duo's first console game. Rings of Power still has a cult following today.

After much persuasion from Hawkins, Rubin and Gavin took a leap of faith and started designing Way of the Warrior, which was heavily inspired by Mortal Kombat, for the 3DO console. They demoed the game at CES and received interest from Skip Paul, former Chairman of Atari's Coin-Op division and then head of the new Universal Interactive Studios. Skip signed the pair to a three title development deal at Universal, moving them out to the Universal Studios lot and introducing them to Mark Cerny, who worked with the pair on the design of their next title, which was a "Donkey Kong Country-inspired" 3D platformer called Crash Bandicoot.

Crash Bandicoot turned out to be an enormous success, and Sony used the main character as their unofficial PlayStation mascot for several years. Due to the impressive visuals which the developer was able to achieve from the PlayStation console,[7] the game served as a quality benchmark that all other game developers aimed to match, and the series spawned three sequels by Naughty Dog selling over 26 million units.[citation needed] The series continues with other development teams, having sold more than 40 million units worldwide.[citation needed]

After their success with Crash Bandicoot, Rubin and Gavin began working on Jak and Daxter, a franchise that sold 9 million units through the various Naughty Dog incarnations.[citation needed] The series continued with other developers and as of 2017 had sold 15 million copies sold worldwide.[8] Before Jak and Daxter's release, Sony purchased Naughty Dog, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment America in 2001. As a result, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was developed exclusively for the PlayStation 2.

In their 18 years running Naughty Dog, they created fourteen original games including Math Jam (1985), Ski Crazed (1986), Dream Zone (1987), Keef the Thief (1989), Rings of Power (1991), Way of the Warrior (1994), Crash Bandicoot (1996), Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (1997), Crash Bandicoot: Warped (1998), Crash Team Racing (1999), Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (2001), Jak II (2003), Jak 3 (2004) and Jak X: Combat Racing (2005). Together these games have sold over 35 million units and generated over $1 billion in revenue.[9]

Just days after making a controversial speech at 2004's D.I.C.E. Summit that criticized publishers for not recognizing and promoting talent responsible for creating games,[10] Rubin publicly announced his departure from Naughty Dog.[11]

On May 29, 2012, Rubin joined the struggling video game publisher THQ as president, and was responsible for all of THQ's worldwide product development, marketing and publishing operations. At the time Rubin joined THQ, the company had laid off hundreds of its employees[12] and the stock had lost over 99% of its value from its high.[13]

According to Game Industry International, "placing Jason Rubin at the company's helm was unquestionably a good move — the Naughty Dog founder has an enviable track record and quite rightly commands the respect of the industry —, but by the time he took the role, THQ's stock had already crashed and layoffs were well underway. The company was mortally wounded; Rubin's failure to resuscitate his terminally ill patient should not reflect in any way on his own talents and abilities".[14]

To save the teams and products management took the company through a restructuring. As part of that process, THQ filed for Chapter 11[15] with the intention to sell off its assets at auction.[16]

Soon after, THQ management announced a stalking horse bid for the company by Clear Lake Capital for $60 million.[17] Handling the sale of THQ was Centerview Partners[18] Skip Paul,[19] a former colleague of Jason Rubin.[20]

Creditors said the proposed sale of THQ in bankruptcy court benefited current THQ management, including Rubin.[21] Early creditor objections and court documents were not kind to THQ management.[22] Though not as widely publicized as the initial criticism, Judge Walwrath put an end to the entire mismanagement line of argument when she called it a "conspiracy theory" on the record.[23] Additionally, same Creditors that made the initial accusations ultimately took the unusual step of releasing THQ Management, including Rubin, of any malfeasance in the company's Official Plan of Liquidation[24]

Rubin's public statements made at the time are clear. Management was always open to, and actively seeking, higher bidders at the same time as they tried to hold the company together, both for the benefit of the Company and the Creditors:

Our Chapter 11 process allows for other bidders to make competing offers for THQ. So while we are extremely excited about the Clearlake [stalking horse] opportunity, we won't be able to say that the deal is done for a month or so. Whatever happens, the teams and products look likely to end up together and in good hands. That means you can still pre-order Metro: Last Light, Company of Heroes 2, and South Park: The Stick of Truth. Our teams are still working on those titles as you read this, and all other rumored titles, like the fourth Saints Row, the Homefront sequel, and a lot more are also still in the works.

— Jason Rubin, THQ Press Release[25]

Judge Mary F. Walrath decided to have an auction for the individual assets,[26] and competing offers for the separate parts of THQ prevailed. Though many employees lost their jobs in the bankruptcy, the development teams at Relic (bought by Sega), Volition (bought by Koch Media), and THQ Montreal (purchased by Ubisoft) remained intact, as did much of Vigil which became Crytek USA, and all of the THQ products in the works survived the bankruptcy have come or are scheduled to come out soon.[27][28][29][30]

In December 2012, THQ partnered up with The Humble Bundle Team at Wolfire Games to make the Humble THQ Bundle raising over 5 million dollars, much of it going to charity. Rubin donated over $10,000 to charity as part of the event.[31]

During E3 2014 it was announced that Rubin joined Oculus VR, heading up the Oculus first-party content initiatives in Seattle, San Francisco, Menlo Park, Dallas and Irvine.[32][33]

In 2021, following Oculus parent company Facebook's rebranding as Meta, Rubin became VP of Metaverse Content, leading the company's VR and Metaverse Content production teams, the internal Studios, Publishing, and Developer Ecosystem teams.[34]

Other projects[edit]

Rubin also created two comic book series. The Iron Saint, originally known as Iron and the Maiden, was published by Aspen Comics,[35] and including artwork designed by artists as Joe Madureira, Jeff Matsuda, Francis Manapul and Joel Gomez. "Mysterious Ways" was published by TopCow Comics[36] and includes artwork from Tyler Kirkham.

Rubin also co-founded an Internet startup called Flektor with Naughty Dog co-founder Andy Gavin and former HBO executive Jason Kay. In May 2007, the company was sold to Fox Interactive Media, which is a division of News Corp.[37] Fox described the company as: "a next-generation Web site that provides users with a suite of Web-based tools to transform their photos and videos into dynamic slideshows, postcards, live interactive presentations and video mash-ups." In October 2007, Flektor partnered with its sister company, Myspace, and MTV to provide instant audience feedback via polls for the interactive MySpace / MTV Presidential Dialogues series with then-presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama.[38]

Video games[edit]

Year Game title Role
1985 Math Jam Lead programmer
1986 Ski Crazed
1987 Dream Zone Lead artist
1989 Keef the Thief Director
1991 Rings of Power Director, game designer
1994 Way of the Warrior Director, producer, game designer
1996 Crash Bandicoot Director
1997 Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
1998 Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
1999 Crash Team Racing
2001 Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
2003 Jak II
2004 Jak 3


  1. ^ Cork, Jeff (July 25, 2007). "From Crash To Comics: The Jason Rubin Interview". Game Informer. GameStop. Archived from the original on August 18, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2012. Jason Rubin was a longtime fixture of the gaming industry, founding Naughty Dog with Andy Gavin in 1986.
  2. ^ "Company — About". Naughty Dog. July 25, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2012. Although we have sometimes claimed to have started in 1986, we were just working on garage titles back then.
  3. ^ Narcisse, Evan (June 18, 2012). "THQ's New Boss Says No More uDraw, Primary Focus Will Be AAA Games". Kotaku.
  4. ^ "THQ dissolved as court approves sale of studios and titles". Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  5. ^ "Keef the Thief: A Boy and His Lockpick (1989)". MobyGames.
  6. ^ "Jason Rubin Video Game Credits and Biography". MobyGames.
  7. ^ Darby, Kris. "2013 Interview with Jason Rubin about the beginnings of Naughty Dog & Crash Bandicoot". InRetroSpectPodcast.com.
  8. ^ Minotti, Mike (April 3, 2017). "Jak and Daxter PlayStation 2 classics are coming to PlayStation 4". GamesBeat. VentureBeat. Retrieved January 14, 2023. The series has sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
  9. ^ Purchese, Robert (July 31, 2008). "Devs don't need producers - Naughty Dog". Eurogamer.
  10. ^ Bdizz2012 (May 26, 2012). "D.I.C.E. SUMMIT 2004 - JASON RUBIN - TARA REID AND THE FUTURE OF GAME DESIGN". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021 – via YouTube.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "GameSpy: PC Games, Reviews, News, Previews, Demos, Mods & Patches". Archived from the original on May 21, 2009.
  12. ^ Curtis, Tom. "THQ Lays Off 200 Employees, Closes Australian Studios".
  13. ^ "THQI - Stock Quote and Charts for THQ". Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  14. ^ "THQ - A Victim Of Market Change And Corporate Inertia". GamesIndustry.biz. January 25, 2013.
  15. ^ "THQ files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, shares halted - MarketWatch". Archived from the original on February 16, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  16. ^ "THQ auction results: Sega buys Relic, Ubi gets THQ Montreal, Koch lands Volition, and more". January 23, 2013.
  17. ^ "THQ - Investor Relations - News Release". Archived from the original on July 17, 2013.
  18. ^ "Centerview Partners". Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  19. ^ Barnes, Brooks (April 25, 2010). "Longtime Hollywood Hand Is Joining Boutique Bank". The New York Times.
  20. ^ "THQ's Quick Sale Denied, Individual Franchises Up for Offer". January 9, 2013.
  21. ^ Caoili, Eric. "Lazard: Blockbuster's Game Expansion No Problem For GameStop".
  22. ^ "Distressed Debt News: Objections in the THQI Bankruptcy".
  23. ^ In Re: THQ, Inc., et al., Case No. 12-13398-MFW (Bankr. Ct., D. Del.), Transcript of Hearing on January 4, 2013 (pp. 238-239); lines 24-2. A copy may be viewed at the Office of the Clerk, District of Delaware Bankruptcy Court, or by contacting Transcriber Reliable at 302-654-8080.
  24. ^ In Re: THQ, Inc., et al., Case No. 12-13398-MFW (Bankr. Ct., D. Del.), Disclosure Statement for the First Amended Chapter 11 Plan of Liquidation of THQ, Inc., and Its Affiliated Debtors, May 28, 2013, p. 154 (Dkt. No. 0710). A copy may be retrieved at http://www.kccllc.net/thq/document/1213398130528000000000002.
  25. ^ "THQ Community Message From Jason Rubin".
  26. ^ In Re: THQ, Inc., et al., Case No. 12-13398-MFW (Bankr. Ct., D. Del.), Disclosure Statement for the First Amended Chapter 11 Plan of Liquidation of THQ, Inc., and Its Affiliated Debtors, May 28, 2013, p. 154 (Dkt. No. 0710)
  27. ^ "Metro: Last Light | 4A Games". www.4a-games.com.
  28. ^ "Age Gate | Company of Heroes". www.companyofheroes.com.
  29. ^ "UbiSoft announces South Park: The Stick of Truth release date - News - South Park Studios". www.southparkstudios.com. Archived from the original on September 25, 2013.
  30. ^ "SAINTS ROW: THE THIRD REMASTERED - Out now on Xbox One, PS4 & PC". saintsrow.com.
  31. ^ Schramm, Mike. "Humble THQ Bundle ends, earns $5 million from 885,000 bundles". Joystiq.
  32. ^ VR, Oculus. "Jason Rubin Joins the Team and Oculus at E3 2014". www.oculus.com.
  33. ^ "Oculus' Jason Rubin Remains Optimistic About VR And Is Proud Of What The Company Has Achieved".
  34. ^ "Jason Rubin on Meta's strategy for the metaverse". January 25, 2022.
  35. ^ Pham, Alex (August 12, 2007). "Speech balloons are his newest thing". Los Angeles Times.
  36. ^ "Mysterious Ways". Archived from the original on July 30, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
  37. ^ Arrington, Michael (May 15, 2007). "MySpace To Acquire Flektor".
  38. ^ Kaufman, Gil. "Barack Obama Fields Tough Questions At MTV/MySpace Forum". MTV News.