As many have suspected, Microsoft announced at E3 2018 that they have acquired a number of studios who will develop titles exclusively for Microsoft platforms and have started a brand new internal studio.
That new internal studio, which is called The Initiative, is led by former Crystal Dynamics studio head, Darrell Gallagher. Gallagher has been in the video game industry for quite a while and has worked for a number of high-profile studios. The Initiative is reportedly already working on a new exclusive for Microsoft platforms, but Microsoft has not revealed what that game is.
Microsoft has also acquired the services of three promising smaller developers. As revealed during E3 2018, they have bought developer PlayGround Games (the team responsible for the Forza Horizon series), Undead Labs (the State of Decay games), and Ninja Theory (Hellblade and DmC). While PlayGround and Undead Labs had previously worked on Microsoft exclusives, they are now official a part of the Microsoft Studios team. Ninja Theory is arguably the biggest “get” of the bunch, as they were previously a third-party developer whose titles have been attracting more and more attention over the years.
The full details of this deal haven’t been revealed, which isn’t surprising given that the financial details of these kinds of acquisitions are typically fully-disclosed. However, we expect that these developers will still be working on exclusive Microsoft titles by the time that the next generation of Microsoft platforms rolls around.
Phil Spencer previously stated that he feels Microsoft needs to do more to attract exclusive titles and first-party developers, and these acquisitions are certainly a step in the right direction.
It’s also worth noting that it was reported that PlayGround is working on the next Fable game, and this acquisition certainly seems to suggest that might be the case.