Microsoft has bolstered its development studio portfolio significantly this year. At E3 2018 it revealed five studios had joined the Xbox family. Santa Monica-based The Initiative, which is being headed up by Darrell Gallagher, former head of studio for Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics, was said to be building a team of «world class talent» to develop «groundbreaking new game experiences.»
Microsoft is set to add another developer to its growing list of first-party studios. At X018, a celebratory Xbox event taking place in Mexico City, Microsoft revealed its intention to acquire inXile Entertainment, the developer of Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenera, and The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep.
The announcement was made by Matt Booty, head of Microsoft Studios and, according to Microsoft, inXile will continue to operate independently, but have the support to pursue its creative ambitions on all existing and new projects. InXile’s Brian Fargo said joining Microsoft allows the studio to tap into the «incredible Microsoft ecosystems that is second to none.» He said the team intends to carry on making role-playing games.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer also confirmed that State of Decay developer Undead Labs and Forza Horizon studio Playground Games had been acquired by Microsoft. The latter is making a brand-new game, which is rumored to be Fable 4. We Happy Few developer Compulsion Games also was named as a new Microsoft studio, but perhaps the biggest surprise was Ninja Theory, the British developer of Heavenly Sword, DmC: Devil May Cry, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
As with inXile, Microsoft said these studios will retain «creative independence,» and Microsoft’s investment in them give these teams the additional resources and backing they need to take «bigger risks» and make «bolder worlds.» InXile is currently developing Wasteland 3, which was crowdfunded using Fig. The game is expected to launch in 2019.
The addition of these studios comes at a time when Xbox was under scrutiny for its lack of first-party titles for Xbox One. While projects these new studios are developing may not be targeting the platform holder’s current platform, at E3 2018 Microsoft confirmed work on new Xbox hardware was underway.