About Jesse

About Jesse

Jesse Houston is a long time veteran of the video game industry whose career has been marked by a diverse range of roles and an unwavering commitment to people, innovation, and quality.

Jesse currently is the Co-Founder and CEO of Critical Path Games, which he founded in 2024.

In his most recent role as CEO of Phoenix Labs - a studio he co-founded in 2014 - he directed the globally acclaimed, free-to-play, action-hunting game, Dauntless. He then scaled the company to enable developing five games simultaneously, including the recently released to rave reviews, Fae Farm.

Dauntless, Phoenix Labs' First Title

Houston began his professional journey at Electronic Arts, as a tester on the well-known FIFA franchise. This early role provided him with fundamental insights into game mechanics and fostered a detailed-oriented approach.

Splinter Cell

From there, Houston moved to Ubisoft where his tenure was marked by a variety of positions including Environment Artist, Technical Artist, Programmer, and ultimately, Technical Director. During that time, he gained a deep understanding of the technical aspects of game development, while contributing to franchises like Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, and Surf’s Up.

Mass Effect 3 at the Microsoft E3 Press Conference 2011

Following Ubisoft, Houston moved to BioWare, a company noted for its world class RPGs. Houston joined to be the Lead Producer for the Mass Effect trilogy, renowned for its narrative depth and complex world-building. He played a pivotal role in bridging design, art, and engineering to develop the series. His time in leadership at BioWare taught him the power of highly connected teams being able to deliver high-quality games, and it cemented his belief on the impact of multiplayer and digital story-telling.

League of Legends 2013 World Championships

Houston then went on to helm Riot Games’ League of Legends. Under his stewardship, the game grew into a multi-billion dollar juggernaut, connecting hundreds of millions of players, and leading to the ascension of eSports as a global entertainment industry.

Phoenix Labs over the years

During his tenure as Co-Founder and CEO of Phoenix Labs from 2014 to 2023, Houston had a number of considerable successes. Phoenix Labs won GamesIndustry.biz’s “Best Places To Work” prize in 2021 and 2022 for both the USA and Canada. The company’s first title, Dauntless, was met with worldwide acclaim, having released with the highest Metacritic rating of any F2P game at launch. Being the first game to ever launch with full cross platform play across all major consoles, Dauntless was able to grow to over 30 million players in its first year alone.

Phoenix Labs’ journey reached a significant milestone when it was sold to Garena in one of the largest video game company acquisitions in Canadian history. In the years that followed, he grew the company to over 325 team members across 4 studios, with an average of 5 games in development. Phoenix Labs’ second game, Fae Farm, a cozy farm-sim RPG, launched in September of 2023 to rave reviews. As Houston looks to the future, he has transitioned away from CEO to an advisory role and continues to support the team as they look towards new horizons in gaming.

Science World

In addition to spending time with family, Houston dedicates much of his non-work hours to charitable endeavours, especially those that reinforce his commitment to STEM education. He has served on the board of Science World since 2021, currently in the role as Secretary. He has also served as chair on various committees such as Fundraising and Development, Strategic Revenue, and the Executive Committee.

Playing Together In Fae Farm
Fae Farm, Phoenix Labs' Acclaimed Second Title

Houston aspires to enrich lives through building fantastic teams, who make deep multiplayer games that bring people together around the world.