Bungie acquisition was a “poor learning experience,” says Xbox’s Phil Spencer

Microsoft has since then changed the way it handles internal studios.

Xbox Series X

In a podcast with Insomniac Games’ Ted Price, Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President at Gaming, has shared interesting details about how Xbox has changed the way it handles newly acquired studios compared to the past.

Insomniac Games was acquired by Sony last year, and the topic was touched as part of an interview with founder Ted Price’s podcast at DICE 2020. 

Spencer has recalled experiences with Bungie and FASA, when Microsoft forced those teams to relocate to Redmond after their acquisitions, among others that he now recognizes as mistakes made in the past.

“If I go through our history in studio acquisitions, back when it was Microsoft Game Studios, we have some real poor learning experiences,” he said during an episode of Game Maker’s Notebook.

“Things like, you know, Bungie—which, I loved the acquisition of Bungie—but we moved them all in from Chicago to Redmond, because all the studios kind of had to be in the same place, except for a couple of them.”

“If you even go back to FASA, we acquired FASA and we actually took the organization apart. We put all the developers in our studio developers org, and all the producers—[we] literally restructured that whole team,” the head of Xbox added, before claiming that “if you look at our evolution: Ensemble, then things like Lionhead and Rare, we kept them where they were.”

Bungie parted ways with Microsoft in 2007 just days after shipping Halo 3, while FASA was closed after releasing Shadowrun for Xbox 360 and PC. Other historic teams like Ensemble and Lionhead were also shuttered in the following years.

Since then, things have changed, and even Microsoft Game Studios has been rebranded as Xbox Game Studios to remark that.

Over the last two years, development teams such as Ninja Theory, Obsidian Entertainment, and Double Fine Productions have been acquired and made a part of the organization.