Microsoft Studios (& Partners) Current and Future Landscape

Sep 6, 2013
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#1
Much like the Sony PlayStation first party thread, so I shamelessly copied some of the style of it.

*will be expanding on this*

Part 1: First Party Studios
Part 2: Partner Studios




Studio:343 Industries
Game History: Halo
Studio Head(s): Frank O'Connor (franchise director), Bonnie Ross (general manager)
Employees: ~450
Location: Redmond, WA

Released Xbox One/Windows 10 Games:

- Halo Spartan Assault (XB1,Steam,mobile) (2013/ Metascore 53/70/86)
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection (XB1) (2014/ Metascore 85)
- Halo 5: Guardians (XB1) (2015/ Metascore 84)
- Halo Wars: Definitive Edition (XB1/Win 10/STEAM) - 4/20/17

Other releases:
Halo: Spartan Strike, Halo Hub, Halo 5: Forge

Xbox One/Windows 10 Projects:
- Halo Wars 2 collaboration with Creative Assembly (XB1/Win 10) - 2/21/17
---- Continued work on DLC. Expansion releasing this fall 2017

Rumours:
- Halo 6
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Studio: The Coalition
Game History: Gears of War
Studio Head: Rod Fergusson
Employees: ~200
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Released Xbox One/Windows 10 Games:

- Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (XB1,Win10) (2015/ Metascore 82/73)
- Gears of War 4 (XB1,Win 10) (2016/ Metascore 84/86)

Xbox One/Windows 10 Projects:

- Gears of War 4 season pass content (maps, horde, updates, ect)

Rumours:
- Gears of War 5
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Studio: Rare Ltd.
Game History: Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct, Goldeneye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Conker, Viva Piñata, and a ton more.
Studio Head: Craig Duncan
Director(s): Gregg Mayles
Employees: ~150 (?)
Location: Twycross, UK

Released Xbox One Games:

- Kinect Sports Rivals (2014/ Metascore 60)
- Rare Replay (2015/ Metascore 84)

Xbox One/Windows 10 Projects:

- Sea of Thieves -- Release 2018, currently in Closed Alpha

Rumours:
Rare working on two "extra IPs" other than Sea of Thieves
Rare has turned into a "New IP factory"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Studio: Mojang
Game History: Minecraft, Cobalt, Scrolls
Studio Head(s): Jens Bergensten (lead creative designer), Lydia Winters (brand director)
Employees: 63
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Released Xbox One Games:

- Minecraft (2014/ Metascore 88)
- Cobalt w/ Oxeye Studios (2016/ Metascore 66)

Other releases:
Scrolls, Crown and Council

Xbox One/Windows 10 Projects:

- Continued Minecraft updates across various platforms
- Partnership with Telltale on Minecraft Story Mode
- Minecraft Better Together update releasing fall 2017. Crossplay and more for various systems

Rumours:
- Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition coming to Xbox One?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Studio: Turn 10 Studios
Game History: Forza
Studio Head(s): Alan Hartman (studio lead), Dan Greenawalt (Creative Director)
Employees: ?
Location: Redmond, WA

Released Xbox One/ Windows 10 Games:

- Forza Motorsport 5 (XB1) (2013/ Metascore 79)
- Forza Motorsport 6 (XB1) (2015/ Metascore 87)
- Forza Motorsport 6: Apex (Win10) (2016/ Metascore N/A)

Other releases:
Forza Horizon 2, Forza Horizon 3, Forza Hub

Xbox One/Windows 10 Projects:

- Continued Content updates to Forza Horizon 3
- Forza Motorsport 7

Rumours:


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Studio: Microsoft Casual Games
Game History: Solitaire, Mahjong, Wordament, Minesweeper, Bingo, Sudoku
Studio Head(s):paul Jensen (studio lead)
Employees: ?
Location: Redmond, WA

Released Xbox One/ Windows 10 Games:

- Microsoft Solitaire Collection (Win10) (2015/ Metascore N/A)
- Microsoft Bingo (Win10) (2015/ Metascore N/A)
- Microsoft Mahjong (Win10) (2016/ Metascore N/A)

Xbox One/Windows 10 Projects:

- Microsoft Ultimate Word Games (Win10)

Rumours:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Other studios/teams:
ID@ Xbox - Indie Game publishing support 
Microsoft Studios Global Publishing - Handle Microsoft Studio publishing between first party and partner studios
Beam - Streaming service
Backwards Compatibility Team - Handle Xbox One BC
Microsoft Foundry - Intern program, made free game Voice Commander in 2013
Mixed Reality Team - working on AR/VR content for Xbox
Studios/Teams Closed this generation:
Twisted Pixel (The Maw, Splosion Man)- Parted ways in 2015, TP now independent
Press Play (Max, Kalimba) - Closed in 2016
Lionhead Studios (Fable) - Closed in 2016
Team Dakota (Project Spark) - Disbanded in 2016
Xbox Fitness Team - Disbanded in 2016
Decisive Games - Disbanded before being made public in 2016
Studios/Teams acquired this generation:
Gears of War IP - acquired from EPIC in 2014
Mojang - Acquired in 2014
Rise of Nations IP - Acquired in 2014 from defunct Big Huge Games
Beam - Streaming Service acquired in August 2016
Not part of MS studios, but other acquisitions:
Havok acquired in 2015
Simplygon acquired in 2017

First Party Games cancelled/shut down this generation:
Black Tusk's new IP - Cancelled so team could work on Gears of War 4
Project Spark - Servers Closed in 2015
Fable Legends - Cancelled when Lionhead was closed in 2016
Project Knoxville - Cancelled when Press Play was closed in 2016
Xbox Fitness - Servers Closed June 2017
 
Sep 6, 2013
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#2
Partner Studios:

*working on expanding this with more information, just wanted to make sure it was post #2*
*Will add details on games with known information soon*

General MS Studios Publishing tidbits:
- Xbox Head of First Party Publishing, Shannon Loftis stated during a E3 2016 YouTube stream with Geoff Keighley that 14 games were in development (as of June 2016)
“I head first party game publishing for Xbox One or Windows 10 or any of our platforms. ‘We right now have, i think, 14 games in development. We talked about four of those this morning – Killer Instinct, Scalebound, State of Decay 2, and ReCore. We also have Crackdown 3, which we announced has now been moved into 2017, and there are a few other ones that aren’t quite ready to be talked about yet.”
Announced Titles:

 
Title: Crackdown 3
Developer: ReAgent Games, Cloudgine, Sumo Digital
MS Owned IP: Yes
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Known Information:17 Minutes of Footage from Gamescom 2015

Title: Halo Wars 2
Developer: Creative Assembly
MS Owned IP: Yes
Release Date: 2/21/17
Known Information:
Continued Content Updates for season pass content

Title: State of Decay 2
Developer: Undead Labs
MS Owned IP: Yes
Release Date: 2018
Known Information:
2017 Games:
Voodoo Vince Remastered (Beep Industries) (4/18/17) *MS owns the IP, but this title is being published via ID@Xbox*
Halo Wars: Definitive Edition  - 4/20/17
Phantom Dust HD - "Before E3"
Cuphead (StudioMDHR) - 9/29/17 *MS dows NOT own the IP, but they did fund StudioMDHR to add platforming levels*
Fable Fortune (Flaming Fowl Studios) *MS owns the IP, it is being licensed to FFS*
Super Lucky's Tale

Current Partner Studios:
4J Studios - Released Minecraft on Nintendo Switch May 11, 2017
Armature - Recore DLC/updates
Beep Industries - VooDoo Vince Remastered
Capcom Vancouver - Dead Rising 4 DLC/updates
Certain Affinity - Halo
Cloudgine - Crackdown 3
Creative Assembly - Halo Wars 2
Flaming Foul Studios - Fable Fortune
Iron Galaxy Studios - Killer Instinct new characters/updates
Platinum Games - Scalebound
Playground Games - Forza Horizon 3 DLC
ReAgent Games - Crackdown 3
Saber Interactive - Halo
Skybox Labs - Age of Empires DLC, Halo 5: Forge updates
Smoking Gun Interactive - Age of Empires: Castle Siege - Released on Android in March
Splash Damage - Gears of War 4 DLC
StudioMDHR - Cuphead
Studio Gobo - Unknown Microsoft Studios collaboration project
Sumo Digital - Crackdown 3
Undead Labs - State of Decay 2
Rumored Partner Studios/Games:
Moon Studios - Ori & the Blind Forest 2
Recore Definitive Edition - HDR, DLC, 4K rumored
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Past published titles on Xbox One/Win 10 for Partner Studios since start of generation:
Crimson Dragon (Grounding Inc, 2013)
Killer Instinct Classic (Code Mystics, 2013)
Powerstar Golf (Zoe Mode, 2013)
Ryse: Son of Rome (Crytek, 2013)
Zoo Tycoon (Frontier, 2013)
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die (Access Games, 2014)
Dance Central Spotlight (Harmonix, 2014)
Dead Rising 3 (Capcom Vancouver, 2014)
Forza Horizon 2 (Playground Games, 2014)
Killer Instinct 2 Classic (Code Mystics, 2014)
Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2015 (Stainless Games, 2014)
Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games, 2014)
Xbox Fitness (Sumo Digital, 2014)
Age of Empires: Castle Siege (Smoking Gun Interactive, 2015)
Forza Horizon 2: Presents Fast & Furious (Playground Games, 2015)
Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios, 2015)
Rise of the Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics, 2015)
Screamride (Frontier, 2015)
State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition (Undead Labs, 2015)
Halo 5: Forge (Skybox Labs, 2016)
Quantum Break (Remedy Games, 2016)
Recore (Armature Studios, 2016)

Cancelled Partner Collaborations:
 

Matt

Member
Jun 7, 2004
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#4
Hmm, this is the second time recently that I have seen someone confuse Certain Affinity with Creative Assembly.
 
Sep 6, 2013
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#19
Wait, 343 really has 450 employees?
Edge issue 300 apparently had a studio profile that stated this according to Wikipedia. I don't own it personally. Maybe someone can confirm.

Gotta remember that 343 is all things Halo brand, so a good number of those employees might be working on merchandise, toys, tournamets, media, tv series, ect
 
Apr 9, 2012
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#23
Great job Banjo!

Excited to see if 343 announces anything new on the Halo front other than Halo 6. I like the off shoot games.

Should be a big year for Sea of Thieves with it in alpha right now.

Hopefully we see a big update for Scalebound and maybe some other titles from other partners.
 

Inuhanyou

Believes Dragon Quest is a franchise managed by Sony
Jul 26, 2014
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#24
Jesus FUCKING CHRIST.

MS has fucking gone IN on 343 investment, holyshit. I think that is the biggest internal team size i've seen of a first party publisher??
 
Oct 27, 2013
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#26
Imo this thread illustrates that Microsoft really could use a couple more dev teams.
Wonder if they considered to buy Ubisoft before Vivendi took action.
 
Sep 6, 2013
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#27
I've been wanting something like this for MS. Thanks, Banjo!
No problem :).

Rightfully so, the First Party Studio section is very thin since they really only have 5 studios each dedicated to a series pretty much (except Rare)

I'm hoping to work more on partner studio information since MS likes to farm out their owned IP to outside studios

Also, if someone wants to make me nice headers for each studio like the PlayStation topic has then that would be rad ;)
 

Inuhanyou

Believes Dragon Quest is a franchise managed by Sony
Jul 26, 2014
26,222
0
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America
#31
Imo this thread illustrates that Microsoft really could use a couple more dev teams.
Wonder if they considered to buy Ubisoft before Vivendi tool action.
I wish they had honestly. MS probably would not have touched their operations and just let them continue working as they had just like they did when they bought minecraft. Vivendi is going for a hostile takeover and most certainly will force conditions different at the company than at present, hurting the games that come out.

Halo is a multi media brand, and 343 is THE Halo studio, so it makes sense.
Oh, i thought they just worked on the games. But i'm assuming the ratio between the game devs and the people who work on media and stuff is pretty small considering how dev intensive these AAA games are. MS generally spare no expense when it comes to Halo
 
Jun 12, 2013
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#32
Edge issue 300 apparently had a studio profile that stated this according to Wikipedia. I don't own it personally. Maybe someone can confirm.

Gotta remember that 343 is all things Halo brand, so a good number of those employees might be working on merchandise, toys, tournamets, media, tv series, ect
Around peak Halo 5's development, I quite clearly remember LinkedIn details boasting upwards of 500 employees for 343i. The numbers are quite messy now but it should be within 400+ ballpark since 343i didn't go through any huge layoffs.

Jesus FUCKING CHRIST.

MS has fucking gone IN on 343 investment, holyshit. I think that is the biggest internal team size i've seen of a first party publisher??
343i is basically all-in-one for:
- Halo Internal Development Team
- Halo External Development/Publishing Team
- Halo Multimedia (Movies, TV, Merchandise) Team
- Halo Community Team
- Halo E-Sports Team
 
Sep 30, 2006
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#33
Jesus FUCKING CHRIST.

MS has fucking gone IN on 343 investment, holyshit. I think that is the biggest internal team size i've seen of a first party publisher??
343i isn't just a game development team. Maybe half the studio is actually focused on video games.

Nintendo and Capcom both have around 1.000 developers in one single building. 343 is not even close.
 
Sep 6, 2013
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#36
I'll try my very best to update any inconsistencies I have in the OP also, I tried finding as much info as I could and organizing it in a semi decent manner. I'll continue to update it and tinker.

Just wanted to hit publish haha. Last time I tried writing this up a few weeks ago I was 2-3 hours into researching and writing my OP, went to go grab some dinner, then came back and my PC was randomly updating a new Windows update (yes I'm a rookie and didn't back up my post anywhere lol) *sigh*.
 
Aug 5, 2011
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#38
Not very inspiring if you're not a Forza and Gears fan and growing rapidly tired of Halo :(

The only studio I want working on classic IP, won't!!! (Rare)
 
Sep 4, 2015
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#39
I don't think Xbox division has that kind of freedom. Although, I expect they have at least couple of third party exclusives cooking. I mean they have to, right. Go fund that Obsidian RPG people want, Phil.
Indeed, they do.

“I head first party game publishing for Xbox One or Windows 10 or any of our platforms. ‘We right now have, i think, 14 games in development. We talked about four of those this morning – Killer Instinct, Scalebound, State of Decay 2, and ReCore. We also have Crackdown 3, which we announced has now been moved into 2017, and there are a few other ones that aren’t quite ready to be talked about yet.”
http://attackofthefanboy.com/news/microsoft-unannounced-xbox-onewindows-10-exclusive-games-way/
 
Feb 28, 2010
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#41
Not very inspiring if you're not a Forza and Gears fan and growing rapidly tired of Halo :(

The only studio I want working on classic IP, won't!!! (Rare)
Sea of Thieves looks like the most interesting thing Rare has ever done. I'm really happy about where they seem to be this gen.

I can get my 3D platformer fix with Yooka Laylee and 3D Mario Switch next year.
 

Inuhanyou

Believes Dragon Quest is a franchise managed by Sony
Jul 26, 2014
26,222
0
0
America
#42
343i isn't just a game development team. Maybe half the studio is actually focused on video games.

Nintendo and Capcom both have around 1.000 developers in one single building. 343 is not even close.
But there's a difference between Ninty and Capcom's building size in which they obviously host multiple times and 343 actually being a fully fleshed team working on Halo alone. Can you imagine The Coalition growing to this size? Two juggernaut game studios handling everything from comic books, movies, merchandise acquisitions to actual major AAA releases
 

Matt

Member
Jun 7, 2004
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#43
I wish they had honestly. MS probably would not have touched their operations and just let them continue working as they had just like they did when they bought minecraft. Vivendi is going for a hostile takeover and most certainly will force conditions different at the company than at present, hurting the games that come out.
Publishers buying publishers is generally unlikely to happen, and for good reason. That would be a ton of money wasted on people that would just be fired and a valuation predicated on multi platform development.

Also, MS has no desire to spend that much money.
 

Inuhanyou

Believes Dragon Quest is a franchise managed by Sony
Jul 26, 2014
26,222
0
0
America
#44
Publishers buying publishers is generally unlikely to happen, and for good reason. That would be a ton of money wasted on people that would just be fired and a valuation predicated on multi platform development.

Also, MS has no desire to spend that much money.
I get what your saying Matt and you totally make sense about it, but...

When i hear them spending billions on single IP's like Minecraft, and hundreds of millions on NFL sponsorship deals for their sports apps or whatever, bailing out a whole treasure trove of development studios and creative minds to get them under the wing of MS exclusivelt seems like a no brainer.

They could just slowly shift that talent to new first party studios under new names but allow them to retain creative freedom for projects.
 

Matt

Member
Jun 7, 2004
10,828
1
1,320
#47
I get what your saying Matt and you totally make sense about it, but...

When i hear them spending billions on single IP's like Minecraft, and hundreds of millions on NFL sponsorship deals for their sports apps or whatever, bailing out a whole treasure trove of development studios and creative minds to get them under the wing of MS exclusivelt seems like a no brainer.

They could just slowly shift that talent to new first party studios under new names but allow them to retain creative freedom for projects.
Well, again a lot more people would theoretically be fired if MS bought Ubi than what's happening with Vivendi. Publishers have a lot more people working at them than just developers.

Also once MS bought Ubi, they would then have to pay to run it. A LOT of people work at Ubi, they would be increasing the size and cost of the Xbox division by a huge amount. Minecraft was a small team that made a ton of money. It was worth the asking price.
 
Aug 4, 2011
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#48
Edge issue 300 apparently had a studio profile that stated this according to Wikipedia. I don't own it personally. Maybe someone can confirm.
Just checked my issue.
Finding new stories inside a tried and trusted series is the studios' focus, but now comprising 450 development staff [Halo 3 was created by a team of around 70], the studio must also be mindful of becoming too big.
 

Inuhanyou

Believes Dragon Quest is a franchise managed by Sony
Jul 26, 2014
26,222
0
0
America
#50
That does make a lot of sense...they would have had to fire all the redundancy that Xbox division does in order to parse the talent in the gaming section of Ubisoft specifically...

I just think it would have been better to have someone interested in gaming actually still in control of the dev houses ubisoft has, things can go really awry if things go to a worst case scenario with Vivendi