One of the biggest issues Microsoft has had so far has been its complete and total lack of first party games- which is a problem, in term, precipitated by Microsoft not having enough studios. Years of relying on third party exclusives, not building or purchasing new studios, and closing down the ones they do have, have led to Microsoft having a very small slate of developers- The Coalition, 343 Industries, Rare, Turn10, Mojang, and that’s it.
Today, Phil Spencer announced that is changing, as he announced no less than five new first party studios for Microsoft- four of which are acquisitions of existing developers, and one is a brand new studio from the ground up.
First, the new studio- it’s a studio called The Initiative, and it will be based in Santa Monica (so the news reports about Microsoft looking to set up a studio there were true). Then, the two most obvious acquisitions- Undead Labs and Playground Games, of State of Decay and Forza Horizon fame respectively, have both been acquired by Microsoft, and are now in house studios.
Next, for the big ones- Compulsion Games, the folks behind the ambitious We Happy Few, have been acquired by Microsoft, as have Ninja Theory, the developers behind games such as Heavenly Blade, Enslaved, and last year’s seminal Hellblade. That is seriously a big get for Microsoft.
Combined, these five studios double Microsoft’s roster, which means they are now in a position to have a far broader and more varied slate of first party games going forward. While it is unlikely we will see the fruits of these purchases and new studios until the next Xbox, it is good to at least see that Microsoft is setting itself up to not repeat the same mistakes next time around. Now to see if they follow through.