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Microsoft Studios (& Partners) Current and Future Landscape

That1BlackGuy

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Sep 1, 2012
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It seems to me like Microsoft wants to emulate the Valve model, consolidating and cultivating their output around a few key franchises and supporting them long term (think DOTA2, CS:GO, etc.). It's not a bad strategy when you think about it when you consider how successful Valve's games are, and especially since that's what the market seems to be moving towards. I don't quite get the single player obsession as Microsoft's bread and butter has always been their multiplayer focus compared to their competitors.
 

m23

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Dec 19, 2011
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No interest in scalebound fortunately.

Sorry for the people that did.
If you have interest in new IPs and something other than Halo, Gears or Forza I think it's worrisome. Clearly they aren't willing to branch out and try new things.
 

Theorry

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Dec 4, 2014
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If you have interest in new IPs and something other than Halo, Gears or Forza I think it's worrisome. Clearly they aren't willing to branch out and try new things.
They do. People just dont buy them. Like Sunset Overdrive or Quantum Break.
 

m23

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Dec 19, 2011
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They do. People just dont buy them. Like Sunset Overdrive or Quantum Break.
And that's unfortunate because I bought both day 1. If they feel like giving up, cool. It'll be time for me to move on in that case. I only have time and money for one console and the PS4 is mighty tempting right now.

I never owned a PS console before and this is the first time I'm actually considering it. If it wasn't for Forza Motorsport, it would be such an easy decision.

Come E3 I'll have to decide based on what they show off...but then again those games might just end up getting cancelled too.
 

Kastrioti

Persecution Complex
Mar 5, 2006
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Microsoft's current assumed direction makes sense for a corporation that seems to be struggling internally with two camps at war. I've always gotten the impression that the folk passionate about gaming have, to a greater or lesser degree, been engaged in a vicious struggle against upper-management, suits if you will, who are more concerned about ROI than they are with delivering solid, varied gaming experiences. The public faces of the committee that designed the original Xbox One are gone, but I highly doubt the more background influencers have gone anywhere.

Now more than ever, it seems that the ROI model is taking over and we'll get even less variety. Which makes me less likely to invest in the Xbox platform beyond the Xbox One S I already have (because I'm not touching the Windows 10 Store with a 10-foot pole) and more likely to get a Nintendo Switch and upgrade to a Playstation 4 Pro, because at least there, I know my desire for single-player, story games will be sated.
Great post and about what I feel about the current situation. I'm sure MS will be fine with the ROI model with Minecraft, Halo etc. but I don't think that's what I want for my console.

I loved the early 360 days where we would get newer single player experiences on top of great MP experiences like GoW, Halo 3, COD4 etc.

It can't help that games like Sunset Overdrive and QB bombed.

I hope there is some sort of middle ground because I get the impression MS higher ups wanted some sort of ROI from Scalebound and wanted to force some sort of Monster Hunter type gameplay because they wanted sustained revenue from the game. I'm really disappointed.
 

sense

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Aug 4, 2012
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Well I sense one or two traditionally multi platform titles moneyhatted for some sort of exclusivity at this point considering they need new exclusives to excite the fanbase during Scorpio reveal. Probably the next tomb raider again and maybe like splinter cell from Ubisoft. Outside the announced ones I honestly don't know what aaa exclusive they can reveal outside halo 6 and forza 7
 

Mass Effect

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Apr 24, 2011
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The former. They don't want you blowing up buildings during the campaign because you're supposed to be saving the city not wrecking it.
Yeah that makes sense. You can't have an Agent blowing up the city they're trying to save lol.

I at least hope they have a mode that lets you play around with the destruction without having to go into multiplayer. Make a "criminal agent" mode that lets us do that while still retaining all the powers or something.
 

Shin-Ra

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Oct 10, 2013
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I think the next major Halo, not necessarily numbered 6, will veer in the same direction as Destiny with online focus for both the campaign and competitive multiplayer, maximising the MTX potential.
 

labaronx

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May 15, 2013
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Well I sense one or two traditionally multi platform titles moneyhatted for some sort of exclusivity at this point considering they need new exclusives to excite the fanbase during Scorpio reveal. Probably the next tomb raider again and maybe like splinter cell from Ubisoft. Outside the announced ones I honestly don't know what aaa exclusive they can reveal outside halo 6 and forza 7
Thats going to be super expensive when you consider the ps4s user base being twice as large best investment would be to put that kinda money in new studios and ride this out
 

Lifeline

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Jun 15, 2015
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It seems to me like Microsoft wants to emulate the Valve model, consolidating and cultivating their output around a few key franchises and supporting them long term (think DOTA2, CS:GO, etc.). It's not a bad strategy when you think about it when you consider how successful Valve's games are, and especially since that's what the market seems to be moving towards. I don't quite get the single player obsession as Microsoft's bread and butter has always been their multiplayer focus compared to their competitors.
Especially now that PC is a big market for them. Multiplayer games will do better on PC than single player. I think Sea of Thieves has the potential to be pretty big, especially with twitch streaming.
 

jelly

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Oct 14, 2013
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I agree that monetising a few big games possibly seems like their game and I think the next versions will be staying around for a while and built upon.

Sea of Theives is no doubt hiding some big money making aspects.

Halo 6 will be the big FPS money maker with lots of stuff to sell.

Forza, that will be a huge no doubt with PC and that goes for all the games.

Minecraft already does the business.
 

blinkz

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Mar 4, 2012
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As someone who uses Xbox as their main console the lack of anything exciting in the pipeline has really made me sour on gaming.

I hope E3 has some surprises in store for release with Scorpio but I'm not going to hold my breath.
 

Kayant

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Feb 25, 2014
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The rumblings about MS shifting to a complete service model makes sense given they are or have already done so for all their other products.

Also I don't see MS finding much success establishing new properties for this given the amount of failures so far in trying to do so.

Also SneakersSO any hint to if any of this is true and what you were alluding to earlier.

Thanks.
 

SneakersSO

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Aug 20, 2015
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Well I sense one or two traditionally multi platform titles moneyhatted for some sort of exclusivity at this point considering they need new exclusives to excite the fanbase during Scorpio reveal. Probably the next tomb raider again and maybe like splinter cell from Ubisoft. Outside the announced ones I honestly don't know what aaa exclusive they can reveal outside halo 6 and forza 7
Nah, no multiplatform title is willing to be moneyhatted at this point, especially not by MS. And all of the signs we can compile from the last year of the Xbox division's maneuvering amount to a division which is having its budget shrunk smaller & smaller - the price tag for a 3rd party exclusive to MS just wouldn't be worth it, and the most that you'd ever get would be a game, if that.

SE has already learned their lesson with Tomb Raider; they won't be making another deal like that again. I could see Splinter Cell having its development funded by MS in part, especially with Ubisoft looking for outside investors to fight off their own acquisition woes, but a new Splinter Cell game in 2017 & funded by MS would look very different than the game I imagine many Splinter Cell fans actually want.
 

Balb

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Around how much did Gears 4 sell? In the Scalebound cancellation thread some people are claiming it flopped but they didn't seem to have data to back that up.
 
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I am SO glad I got rid of my X1 when I did. With the exception of Halo Wars 2 there isnt a game on that list I want. Most of it is stuff I wouldnt even install if it was part of GwG.

Kinda sad that most third party pubs have a better line up than that.
 
Mar 16, 2016
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Nah, no multiplatform title is willing to be moneyhatted at this point, especially not by MS. And all of the signs we can compile from the last year of the Xbox division's maneuvering amount to a division which is having its budget shrunk smaller & smaller - the price tag for a 3rd party exclusive to MS just wouldn't be worth it, and the most that you'd ever get would be a game, if that.

SE has already learned their lesson with Tomb Raider; they won't be making another deal like that again. I could see Splinter Cell having its development funded by MS in part, especially with Ubisoft looking for outside investors to fight off their own acquisition woes, but a new Splinter Cell game in 2017 & funded by MS would look very different than the game I imagine many Splinter Cell fans actually want.
I imagine they could still "moneyhat" (hate this term so I'll just say "give monetary incentives for") timed exclusivity or full exclusivity if the title is:

1) Not a title in an established franchise that would suffer long term negative effects of skipping PS4 (e.g. Not Tomb Raider)

2) Funded by a dollar amount equal to the amount of profit they would hope to get from PS4 copies, even on their high end of estimates (i.e. High end estimate is 1 mil copies on PS4, so at $30 profit a copy they'd want something close to $30 mil)

Just offering some marketing or an advance on payment won't fly anymore like it did in the previous gen.
 

SneakersSO

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Aug 20, 2015
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Around how much did Gears 4 sell? In the Scalebound cancellation thread some people are claiming it flopped but they didn't seem to have data to back that up.
Uh, less than 2 million so far or something like that? estimated to be a little less than 800k in its launch month including digital. Its not a flop in that its a small number, just a flop relative to what Gears has historically did.
I imagine they could still "moneyhat" (hate this term so I'll just say "give monetary incentives for") timed exclusivity or full exclusivity if the title is:

1) Not a title in an established franchise that would suffer long term negative effects of skipping PS4 (e.g. Tomb Raider)

2) Funded by a dollar amount equal to the amount of profit they would hope to get from PS4 copies, even on their high end of estimates (i.e. High end estimate is 1 mil copies on PS4, so at $30 profit a copy they'd want $30 mil)

Just offering some marketing or an advance on payment won't fly anymore like it did in the previous gen.
The problem that point 2 faces is that, the price tag on those PS4 copies just keeps going up & up, and the ROTR situation proved that freezing out the PS audience, even if temporarily, can have lasting damage on your IP's brand. If Sony's marketshare was as large as it is but Sony wasn't selling as many PS4 copies as they should, or if the X1 software sales were as high as PS4, then the 2nd option becomes viable. But Sony just announced they sold over 15 million pieces of software in a 6 week holiday period and their attach ratio is just too large to ignore now.

Theres just no value in signing a 3rd party exclusive for MS, especially a known brand. They'll take too much shit from every angle, and in the end the game won't move the needle. They learned this from ROTR, and in early 2016 we get Spencer coming out saying they were going to focus on their own game going forward specifically due to this. The Xbox division is just stuck in a really screwed position.
 

Anticol

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Mar 16, 2014
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Around how much did Gears 4 sell? In the Scalebound cancellation thread some people are claiming it flopped but they didn't seem to have data to back that up.
You can look for the NPD thread of that month and probably the data is there, if I recall correctly it was not a flop but it didn't sell as well as the others, I think it sold even less than judgement, I am not sure.
 

Roboculus

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Mar 29, 2016
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Yeah, I really get the impression that the gaming division is under a lot of pressure. All the closures and cancellations the last few years really feel like upper management trying to tighten up the budget.
 

blakep267

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Dec 9, 2013
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If you look at the top games that are actually being played on Xbox, they are sports games, online shooters, gta online, monecraft FH3, and roblox. Fallout 4 and skyrim are the only single player/ not heavily online games near the top.

The shift plays to what the audience wants. Sea of thieves, state of decay and Crackdown are going to fit those wants more than scalebound. They'll still have SP stuff in the form of smaller games like ori, cuphead etc but I wouldn't expect that going forward in the triple A space. If that's not your thing, it's probably not the console for you
 

daTRUballin

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I can't believe Scalebound has been cancelled. Although I'm pretty sure I remember some people calling it, huh?

I don't even know what Phil Spencer and the rest of the Xbox division are even thinking anymore. Lots of strange decisions have been made first party wise this generation. Fable Legends cancelled, Lionhead closed, Press Play closed, Twisted Pixel being let go, Phantom Dust cancelled (?), and now Scalebound. Seems like they don't even care about expanding their first party portfolio anymore. Now they have barely any first party studios around and projects keep getting cancelled left and right. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Rare and Sea of Thieves are next........Hopefully I'm wrong of course.

Perhaps Phil Spencer and Satya Nadella aren't the "saviours" of Xbox we thought they would be........At least MS were building up their first party studios under Mattrick and Ballmer's tenures.
 

Zedox

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Oct 16, 2013
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It seems to me like Microsoft wants to emulate the Valve model, consolidating and cultivating their output around a few key franchises and supporting them long term (think DOTA2, CS:GO, etc.). It's not a bad strategy when you think about it when you consider how successful Valve's games are, and especially since that's what the market seems to be moving towards. I don't quite get the single player obsession as Microsoft's bread and butter has always been their multiplayer focus compared to their competitors.
I literally just said this on twitter. It makes sense. Seeing as their biggest news are platform features.
 

Sydle

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Oct 13, 2006
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I can't believe Scalebound has been cancelled. Although I'm pretty sure I remember some people calling it, huh?

I don't even know what Phil Spencer and the rest of the Xbox division are even thinking anymore. Lots of strange decisions have been made first party wise this generation. Fable Legends cancelled, Lionhead closed, Press Play closed, Twisted Pixel being let go, Phantom Dust cancelled (?), and now Scalebound. Seems like they don't even care about expanding their first party portfolio anymore. Now they have barely any first party studios around and projects keep getting cancelled left and right. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Rare and Sea of Thieves are next........Hopefully I'm wrong of course.

Perhaps Phil Spencer and Satya Nadella aren't the "saviours" of Xbox we thought they would be........At least MS were building up their first party studios under Mattrick and Ballmer's tenures.
For Kinect and TV projects that didn't work out.
 

blakep267

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Dec 9, 2013
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I literally just said this on twitter. It makes sense. Seeing as their biggest news are platform features.
It's a shift. Just like how Sony relies on third parties to solve their multiplayer game issues, MS are likely going to rely on third parties to provide single player experiences. Since their own attempts have been met with lukewarm response at most.
 

m23

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For Kinect and TV projects that didn't work out.
Didn't he build up Black Tusk (Coalition), MS Victoria (closed under Spencer), Twisted Pixel acquired, Press Play acquired (closed under Spencer), Decisive Games (closed under Spencer).
 

dancrane212

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Aug 4, 2011
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Hope E3 this year has some decent reveals from MS because, coming right off the cancelation of Scalebound, things really feel dire. The fact that they own fantastic series that shouldn't require massive budgets and yet are hardly used is incredibly disappointing. Even easy targets are ignored. Hell, the idea that MS didn't front resources to get the Shadowrun RPGs on the Xbox is astounding to me; it's not as-if titles like Divinity and Wasteland bombed on console.

I had figured, with the long tail of development these days that it would take a bit for this new Microsoft Studios to kick into gear but even with some games everything just feels...flat overall. I get it that greenlighting sequels to games that struggle to hit sales targets is not as easy as it once was and I understand wanting to cut your losses with projects that aren't going the way you want but seeing ReCore release in the state it did doesn't give me a lot of confidence that the right decisions are getting made.
 

m23

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Well, it wasn't just Kinect and TV projects. I know they bought Twisted Pixel under Mattrick, for example. But to be fair, Mattrick wasn't exactly a saint either. Pretty sure Bungie was let go and Ensemble was closed under his tenure.
Bungie left before Mattrick didn't they, or planned to. That's different as Bungie wanted to go independent, not like they were shuttered.
 

SneakersSO

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It's a shift. Just like how Sony relies on third parties to solve their multiplayer game issues, MS are likely going to rely on third parties to provide single player experiences. Since their own attempts have been met with lukewarm response at most.
What 3rd parties are producing SP titles en masse? Sony relying on MP experiences via 3rd parties makes sound strategic sense - 3rd parties are investing in that direction because its making a boatload of money, Sony is staying out of their way because competing makes no sense, particularly in the months those 3rd parties like to operate in.

All of MS' 3rd party AAA offerings focusing on SP experiences have flopped financially this gen thus far, so theres really no reason to believe MS is going to continue to pursue those deals if they aren't seeing returns on them. The real question within the Xbox division becomes - why fund those branches of content in the games we are making when thats not why people are playing our 1st party games? Don't be surprised if you start hearing of scaling back of SP campaign features in Halo or Gears going forward, or rolling them as MP campaigns.
 

Zedox

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It's a shift. Just like how Sony relies on third parties to solve their multiplayer game issues, MS are likely going to rely on third parties to provide single player experiences. Since their own attempts have been met with lukewarm response at most.
Well MS has bigger plans than just shifting games. They (MS) are a platform company, and they are building out features for the platform across different device types. Their games look to highlight the features of their platform. Competition, micro transactions, communication, broadcasting, etc...

They seem to want to build an audience out of that primarily and then get the other niche games later. All the big games though, highlight those features.
 
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For me, the XI has the least appealing catalogue/lineup of games than any other console to date.

It's like MS just didn't even bother with this one.
 

Sydle

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Well, it wasn't just Kinect and TV projects. I know they bought Twisted Pixel under Mattrick, for example. But to be fair, Mattrick wasn't exactly a saint either. Pretty sure Bungie was let go and Ensemble was closed under his tenure.
Didn't TP make Gunstringer as their first project as a MS owned studio? : P

There were a number of other games cancelled under Mattrick including Kameo 2, Lost Odyssey 2, Banjo 4, and another Perfect Dark.
 

gundamkyoukai

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What 3rd parties are producing SP titles en masse? Sony relying on MP experiences via 3rd parties makes sound strategic sense - 3rd parties are investing in that direction because its making a boatload of money, Sony is staying out of their way because competing makes no sense, particularly in the months those 3rd parties like to operate in.

All of MS' 3rd party AAA offerings focusing on SP experiences have flopped financially this gen thus far, so theres really no reason to believe MS is going to continue to pursue those deals if they aren't seeing returns on them. The real question within the Xbox division becomes - why fund those branches of content in the games we are making when thats not why people are playing our 1st party games? Don't be surprised if you start hearing of scaling back of SP campaign features in Halo or Gears going forward, or rolling them as MP campaigns.
Even then Sony still have there games which MP going to be important .
So while there games are bigger in SP they still have there feet in the other stuff also .
MS big MP games are getting smaller and they don't have any big SP games either .
Software wise they really need to do something fast .
 

blakep267

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What 3rd parties are producing SP titles en masse? Sony relying on MP experiences via 3rd parties makes sound strategic sense - 3rd parties are investing in that direction because its making a boatload of money, Sony is staying out of their way because competing makes no sense, particularly in the months those 3rd parties like to operate in.

All of MS' 3rd party AAA offerings focusing on SP experiences have flopped financially this gen thus far, so theres really no reason to believe MS is going to continue to pursue those deals if they aren't seeing returns on them. The real question within the Xbox division becomes - why fund those branches of content in the games we are making when thats not why people are playing our 1st party games? Don't be surprised if you start hearing of scaling back of SP campaign features in Halo or Gears going forward, or rolling them as MP campaigns.
You have Bethesda, Ubi( lately they've been skewing towards both), 2k, Capcom, SE( the western branches not the Japan stuff cause that's not coming). Then random smaller devs

And I agreed with your second prt
 

SneakersSO

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You have Bethesda, Ubi( lately they've been skewing towards both), 2k, Capcom, SE( the western branches not the Japan stuff cause that's not coming). Then random smaller devs

And I agreed with your second prt
I meant 2nd party developers. You listed publishers. Publishers will not be signing deals for their games to MS. It just won't happen. Costs are just way too high to miss out on the Steam & PS audience at launch. I detailed why in an earlier post.

I meant smaller, 2nd-party devs. Guys like Turtle Rock, Gearbox, Insomniac, Remedy, Obsidian, The Workshop, etc. These are the type of devs that would produce a SP-centric game, potentially, for MS.
 

JlNX

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Aug 14, 2016
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LOL How the hell did you think it was even close to completion?
Based on interviews at E3 with Kamiya, you would have thought they were in alpha ready for a Q1 Q2 2017 launch. So by early January I was expecting the game was a few months from QA and then a month later gold. But guess what? I'm not Phil Spencer, I don't know about development issues. Seems that would be obvious, but your snark proves otherwise.
 

daTRUballin

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Didn't TP make Gunstringer as their first project as a MS owned studio? : P

There were a number of other games cancelled under Mattrick including Kameo 2, Lost Odyssey 2, Banjo 4, and another Perfect Dark.
I'll give you Kameo 2 and Perfect Dark 2 because weren't those two cancelled around late 2007? Mattrick was already there at that point. No idea about Lost Odyssey 2. And I have no clue what you're talking about in regards to Banjo 4. There was never a "Banjo 4" as far as I remember? If I'm not mistaken, Rare had some Banjo racing game they were working on after Nuts & Bolts that was cancelled. Maybe you got those two mixed up? :p
 

Hockeymac18

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Aug 10, 2013
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They do. People just dont buy them. Like Sunset Overdrive or Quantum Break.
Yeah, there's two things here. MS has, in the past, tried to branch out. But the majority of these endeavors didn't yield the results that they wanted/hoped for (especially recently). Have this happen enough, and you get the vicious cycle we have: MS puts out a variety of games...Xbox gamers buy a subset of these games...MS doesn't branch as much in the next round of game developmemnt...Xbox gamers buy games that MS make (which are more and more "safe")...these sell...MS continues to develop games in these genres...Xbox gamers buy those games more and more...cycle repeat.


MS has actually tried to branch out. They often get overlooked in internet wars lists (where, if you looked at those, you'd assume that the only thing MS makes is Halo, Gears, and Forza). In the OG Xbox and early 360 days, it was rather routine (I looked at the OG Xbox as the Dreamcast 2). And in the early years of the XB1, they did try to branch out with many different types of games and IPs. But people aren't buying those games (well, not enough) - just look at all of the new IPs that MS has put out. Look at their sales data. People are clammoring for a Banjo game...and I REALLY, REALLY want one. But let's be freaking honest - that thing is not going to sell.


I don't like it at all, but I understand why MS would look at that information and say "let's play it safe". If I were in the business of making money, I'd probably do the same thing.
 

blakep267

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Dec 9, 2013
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I meant 2nd party developers. You listed publishers. Publishers will not be signing deals for their games to MS. It just won't happen. Costs are just way too high to miss out on the Steam & PS audience at launch. I detailed why in an earlier post.

I meant smaller, 2nd-party devs. Guys like Turtle Rock, Gearbox, Insomniac, Remedy, Obsidian, The Workshop, etc. These are the type of devs that would produce a SP-centric game, potentially, for MS.
I wasn't talking about exclusives. I meant 3rd parties as in 3rd party games on everything

I wasn't saying MS would have moneyhats. My point was I only expect online MP experiences from them here on out and 3rd party games to fill in any void of sp content
 

Water

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May 31, 2013
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Neither of those games were that great tho. I mean, I enjoyed Quantum Break, but it's far from a must play title
I'm pretty sure QB would have had at least somewhat more success if it didn't have the live action albatross around its neck causing all sorts of design, coordination & technical challenges. Microsoft should be attributing quite a bit of the weak performance to their own actions, and - if they have any interest in single player exclusives on their platform - probably have given Remedy cooperation another shot, with a different IP if necessary.

At the time Microsoft wanted TV TV TV, so Remedy pitched a project that combined gaming and TV. I think that general type of concept plays directly to Remedy's strengths (linear story-based design + solid action mechanics, high tech rendering to make the game and live action sides match) so they weren't wrong to go for it. Not Remedy's fault that Microsoft's strategy was bad and/or that Microsoft would flipflop on the strategy before ever giving it a decent shot, just like they flipflopped on Kinect and screwed developers & customers committed to it without ever going all in to produce major Kinect exclusives.