During their press conference at E3, Microsoft announced that they now have five new studios as part of their videogame making family. This appears to be a reaction to the fact that they seem to have lost the first party war on this generation of consoles. The Switch has been a major success for Nintendo, with all the usual exclusives that entails, while Sony have had strong showings from their own first party studios.
Microsoft has been splashing the cash to play catch up! Playground, developers of Forza Horizon, Hellblade, and DMC developers Ninja Theory, State of Decay developers Undead Labs, and We Happy Few developers Compulsion Games, have all been picked up by the publisher and console developer. They have also pulled together all kinds of talented people from across the industry to create a dev team known as The Initiative. For more information on The Initiative, you can check out the Microsoft News post. It does sound like they are at least trying to do something interesting, although all this stuff inevitably boils down to what kind of culture ends up developing at a studio.
The foundation we have in place for The Initiative is unique in many ways. We’ve been given the freedom to explore, try new things and operate like an independent studio, with the backing from one of the biggest companies in the world to do something bold and different. The industry is headed in an exciting direction, and we see an opportunity to create amazing new game experiences of the future.
Whatever games these studios end up producing will almost certainly come to both Xbox One and PC, as Microsoft really do seem to be embracing their future as a two platform publisher. About time too, as it was always painful to watch a company with the power to leverage two major platforms failing to do that until recent years. I’m hoping for some strong titles from these studios over the coming years, as Microsoft and Sony always bring the best out of each other when they are vying for our attention.