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Xbox E3 2018: Microsoft Acquires Five Big-Name Studios

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It’s always fun to see new game trailers, but perhaps one of the biggest pieces of news to come out of Microsoft’s Xbox E3 2018 press conference was the acquisition of five new studios. Microsoft has lagged behind the console exclusive department compared to Sony (and Nintendo) this generation, and this move could do wonders to improve their first-party output.

Undead Labs

Undead Labs is easily identified since they’ve made only two games, State of Decay and State of Decay 2. Undead Labs was already in a special partnership with Microsoft, as both games were released as console exclusives, at least at first. Now the partnership is official.

“This acquisition signals Microsoft’s and Undead Labs’ commitment to growing the State of Decay franchise and continuing to deliver the ultimate zombie survival experiences for fans, both those new to the franchise and those already dedicated to the community,” said Jeff Strain, owner, Undead Labs. “On behalf of Undead Labs and Microsoft, I’d like to thank the fans of the game for giving us the opportunity to continue building the world of State of Decay.”

Compulsion Games

Compulsion Games are the developers of We Happy Few, a game whose darkly humorous trailer had everyone talking during E3 2016. We Happy Few has been chuggling along via Early Access in the months and years since, and is now gearing up for a release on August 10.

“Microsoft Studios wants to bring new experiences to players and we’re thrilled to join the team and gain more resources and freedom to fuel bigger creative ideas and more ambitious worlds,” says Guillaume Provost, Creative Director, Compulsion Games. “More importantly, we’re eager to prove that there truly is a place for a small studio and a different flavor of creativity in the big world of Xbox. It’s our dream to make an Xbox game that’s just as formative for players as the classics we’ve played and loved in the past.”

Ninja Theory

The team behind Ninja Theory are best known for last year’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which has won awards for its motion capture performance and mature look at psychological horror.

“We are super excited to announce that we at Ninja Theory have agreed to become a part of Microsoft Studios! What does this mean for you, the Xbox fans? It means that we’ll be super-charged to bring you more games that, like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, will each be unique experiences that are rich in creativity, quality and ambition,” said Dom Matthews, Commercial Director, Ninja Theory.

Playground Games

Since the Forza Horizon series has been such a mainstay for Xbox consoles, I was a bit surprised that Playground Games wasn’t already a Microsoft-owned studio. Microsoft has finally put a ring on it, along with the announcement of Forza Horizon 4, coming October 2 on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.

“Playground Games’ unique, creative vision and passion, together with the power and resources of Microsoft, will see this innovative team take their talents to an all-new level,” said Alan Hartman, studio head at Playground Games. “Playground Games will continue to work on Forza Horizon and they are bringing their open world expertise to an entirely new project we’ll have more to share about later.”

The Initiative

Technically the Initiative isn’t an acquisition at all, nor is it a big name studio. It’s an entirely new first-party game studio formed by Microsoft, lead by Darrell Gallagher. No games have yet been announced.

“I’m thrilled to join the Microsoft Studios family as it is clear to me that the gaming team at Microsoft shares my passion for storytelling, world-building and creative exploration,” said Gallgaher. “There are big plans in store for fans and we are already hard at work.”

e3 2018

E3 2018 Press Conference Schedules

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The 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo officially kicks off June 12-14. Much of the news, trailers, and announcements will come from the various press conferences held by the biggest companies in gaming leading up to the show. Stay tuned for Pixelkin for the biggest headlines, and see below for the schedule of conferences throughout the week and weekend, beginning June 9.

Saturday, June 9

EA Play 2018 – 11 am Pacific/3 pm Eastern

We’re expecting many more details and trailers surrounding BioWare’s Anthem. Other than that expect the usual slew of sports games like Madden and FIFA, and perhaps some new EA Originals indie announcements.

Sunday, June 10

Microsoft – 1 pm Pacific/4 pm Eastern

Watch live video from Xbox on www.twitch.tv

Microsoft has been exceedingly quiet in the weeks leading up to E3, which could be a bad thing or a good thing. The Xbox has lagged behind this generation, due in large part to a dearth of console exclusives. Might we see a price cut to the Xbox One X? Expect Microsoft to push Mixer as the next big Twitch platform.

Bethesda – 6:30 pm Pacific/9:30 pm Eastern

Watch live video from Bethesda on www.twitch.tv

Bethesda’s press conference in the past has been late at night, but thankfully they’re bumping it up a bit this year. Bethesda has already announced sequels Rage 2 and Fallout 76, with the latter spurring lots of speculation on what kind of game it is. Expect to get some answers Sunday night.

Devolver Digital – 8 pm Pacific/11 pm Eastern

Watch live video from Devolver Digital on www.twitch.tv

With Bethesda vacating the late night spot, indie publisher Devolver Digital slides right in. Last year’s inaugural press conference was highly irreverent and very goofy. Yet they still managed to show off lots of neat trailers for upcoming games. Best of all, the whole thing only runs about 15 minutes.

Monday, June 11

Square Enix – 10 am Pacific/1 pm Eastern

Watch live video from Square Enix on www.twitch.tv

Despite Square Enix publishing several high profile games each year, including Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Dragon Quest, and Deux Ex, the publisher hasn’t held an official E3 press conference in two years. We can expect updates on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Dragon Quest XI, and especially the highly anticipated Kingdom Hearts III.

Ubisoft – 1 pm Pacific/4 pm Eastern

Watch live video from Ubisoft on www.twitch.tv

Last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins was hugely successful. Ubisoft has already announced Assassin’s Creed Odyssey as the next game, so expect their marquee franchise to be the highlight of the show. Will it actually come out this year? And will we see actual gameplay of the mysterious Beyond Good and Evil 2?

PC Gaming Show – 3 pm Pacific/6 pm Eastern

Watch live video from PCGamer on www.twitch.tv

Since the PC doesn’t have a single big publisher press conference, media outlet PC Gamer has taken on the reigns in the last few years. It features a more late night talk-show format, with less fancy trailers and more deep dives with developers.

Sony – 6 pm Pacific/9 pm Eastern

Watch live video from PlayStation on www.twitch.tv

Sony may have the least surprising press conferences of the bunch, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We expect major updates on Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, Days Gone, and maybe a little more Death Stranding, one of the most mysterious and talked about games from last year’s E3.

Tuesday, June 12

Nintendo – 9 am Pacific/12 pm Eastern

Watch live video from Nintendo on www.twitch.tv

Last but certainly never least is the pre-recorded Nintendo Direct. The Switch remains in full swing and Nintendo has many exciting franchises to announce, tease, and detail. We fully expect the upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Switch to be the main focus, but perhaps we’ll get teases for Metroid Prime 4 and the new Pokémon games.