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 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 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.”
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.
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.”
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.”