Phil Fish (full name Jacque Paul Philippe Poisson; Poisson is French for "Fish") got his start in the games industry after graduating form the National Art and Design Center with a "master" in level design. He was subsequently hired by Ubisoft Montreal, where he worked as a level designer on Open Season. However, after working on the game for eight months, he had a mental breakdown during a meeting and was removed from the team and ultimately fired. The breakdown was brought on by his work at Ubisoft and several projects he was engaged in on the side; LAPIS, a game for Pannoscope, a few artist-for-hire projects that didn't go anywhere, and beginning GAMMA, a Montreal-based video game exhibit.
During the tail end of his time at Ubisoft, Fish would begin working with Renaud Bédard on Fez, a 2D puzzle-platformer. In 2008, Fish entered Fez into the Independent Games Festival where the game won an award for "Excellence in Visual Art". After being fired by Ubisoft Montreal, Fish went independent and founded Polytron to work full-time on Fez. Fish would spend the next four years working on the game before releasing it in April 2012.
Phil Fish is a member of Kokoromi, an experimental game collective based in Montreal.
Fez II and Exit from the Games Industry
Fish and Polytron announced Fez II with a trailer on June 13, 2013. However, on July 27, 2013, Fish announced that Fez II was cancelled, and that he he would be leaving game development. The abrupt cancellation announcement followed Fish's response to antagonizing comments made by Marcus Beer on GameTrailers's Invisible Walls podcast. The event was at the time the latest in a series of social media blow-ups involving Fish. As of June 2014, Fish has not announced a public return to the industry.
On June 18, 2014, Fish took to his Twitter account to criticize YouTube users that create monetized videos of Fez. After receiving backlash from other Twitter users in response, he subsequently protected his Twitter account, limiting access to his tweets before deleting his account entirely. The content of the tweets that led to the backlash and ultimate account deletion were republished on GameSpot:
- "YouTubers should have to pay out a huge portion of their revenue to the developers from which they steal all their content...[Ad] revenue should be shared with developers," he continued. "This should be built into YouTube. Anything else is basically piracy."
- "If you generate money from putting my content on your channel, you owe me money. Simple as that."
- "If you buy a movie, are you then allowed to stream the entirety of it publicly for people to watch for free? No, because that's illegal."
- "Systems are in place to prevent that. But buy Fez, put ALL of it on YouTube, turn on ads, make money from it and that's TOTALLY FINE."
- "And the developer should in NO WAY be compensated for their work being freely distributed to the world. Right. Makes sense."