Creative director Ken Lobb discusses Microsoft’s approach to new projects and development.
Microsoft is gearing up for E3 2014 where it will reveal new IPs and titles to further expand its Xbox One line-up in the coming years, but it’s still criticized for its relative lack in diversity compared to Sony (case in point, many still consider two of the top franchises to be Halo and Forza, with Gears of War occasionally mentioned).
In conversation with EDGE, Microsoft Game Studios creative director Ken Lobb believes that the studio has as much to offer as Sony when it comes to its overall developer range. “Absolutely. I’ve been publishing for a long time, and I hesitate to say I know everybody, but I know a lot of people in the industry that I can go out and hire to work either internally or [in a] publishing relationship. That can sometimes lead to things like the Double Helix experience, but to be honest, although I feel bad about it, I feel great about it.
“I think we added value to Double Helix by both signing them, and then helping them reach their dream of shipping this game. Again, all credit to them, but we helped them get better. And you could say it sounds kind of lame and altruistic, [but] I like when we sign an external partner and their value in the industry goes up. That’s a goal I always have. How do we help external developers get better at what they do? I think we do it really well. And in that sense, I can get whatever I want.
“To answer your question in a different way, we don’t slot fill. It’s not a game we play. I want to go and find developers that want to make a game that they think is perfect, and then we’ll decide if that is something that’s interesting to us from a business perspective and also from a portfolio perspective. [But it’s] not, ‘Gee, I need a fighting game. I should make one of those.’”
As for whether games like Forza Motorsport and studios like Turn 10 were created to compete with Gran Turismo and Polyphony Digital, Lobb said, “Not really. You can look at the business [side] and say that Turn 10 was built to compete, but the reality was that we had a bunch of car fanatics who really wanted to have a go at making a racing game.
“The core of that team was there the two years before Forza 1 shipped. It wasn’t leadership coming down and saying, ‘We must build Polyphony. Let’s create a team.’ It was from passion first. That’s where Forza came from.”
Currently, Microsoft is tipped to show off Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break, Halo 5 and Gears of War at E3 2014. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.