Microsoft Studios has announced five new studios that will be joining its banner. Four of these are former indie studios that have now become first-party.
Somewhere amidst the rapid-fire delivery of game reveals at the E3 2018 Xbox Media Briefing, Microsoft announced five new first-party studios. Four of these were indie studios that have all grown up now. The remaining one, The Initiative, is a brand new studio under Microsoft. Here’s a look at each of them:
This British studio is known for third-person actioners like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Heavenly Sword. Their most recent game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, was published independently and achieved quite a bit of critical and commercial success. The game released on Xbox One earlier this year, but not before its original PC/PS4 release. The lack of a known history between Ninja Theory and Microsoft Studios is perhaps what makes this the most surprising acquisition of the lot. Perhaps it helps that Microsoft Studios chief Phil Spencer worked with Ninja Theory in the past.
Based in Seattle, this studio has developed the State of Decay games. Undead Labs has had a history with Microsoft Studios, as both its State of Decay games were published by the company. This acquisition is a bit of a no-brainer.
Another British studio, this one has been making the Forza Horizon games for Microsoft Studios already. It was formed in 2010 by veterans of many other racing game studios, so there’s quite a bit of racing game pedigree involved. Perhaps the biggest surprise about this acquisition is the realisation that Playground Games was an independent studio at all, given that their entire ludography has been in partnership with Microsoft.
Compulsion was founded in Montreal in the year 2009, and their debut game was the stylish indie platformer Contrast. They have recently been working on the ambitious We Happy Few, which is currently in Early Access on PC. The game is scheduled to be released in August.
Finally, we have Microsoft’s brand new in-house studio, named The Initiative. It’s based in Santa Monica, California and is headed up by former Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher. That’s the studio that invented Tomb Raider, mind you.