Microsoft Studios (& Partners) Current and Future Landscape

Nov 9, 2015
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Disagree. I do think out of the 7 unknown projects, even if they're far off, I think there's at least 2 AAA-level games.

Historically MS do try to balance out their internal/external AAA portfolio, and it's hard to imagine that they aren't trying to find more devs that can deliver to them a Crackdown 3/State of Decay 2 level game as opposed to just another ReCore or Ori.
Possible. Problem is though that none of the new IP's they've had this gen, AAA or smaller game, have been able to excite people outside of the Xbox faithful. Even if all 7 of those are huge AAA titles they need to be able to excite more than just the people who were excited the second they saw the E word
 
Aug 14, 2016
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Why is it that with 450 people 343 still can't make an amazing Halo game?
Throwing people at a game doesn't make it better, in fact it can cause issues in development.

Also yeh like nekkid said halo 4 has a fantastic campaign and halo 5 multiplayer is easily the best in the series. Forge is a league above anything they have made as well.
 
Jun 12, 2013
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343 handles not only Halo the game, but Halo EVERYTHING. People forgot that they aren't just a video game studio.
True, but 343i remains big enough even with >100 people on non-development responsibilities that the question remains, if you aren't a fan of Halo 4/5.

But honestly, the same question extends to dozens of games, not just Halo. Games made by upward of 1,000 people can still suck terribly, like some of the AssCreed games. (hello AssCreed 3/Unity)
 
Aug 14, 2016
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Those 450 people arent all devs. 343 does everything about the Halo franchise.

Edit: Beaten.
They actually are 450 devs alone, not including comic book artists, book writers, community managers, merchandising managers etc. They are more likely around 500 including everyone.
 
Dec 9, 2013
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I don't think 343 are great at managing the franchise which is a management issue and I'm not sure their vision is that good for it either even if they did take an up-turn with Halo 5 in the gameplay.

Franchise needs a rest imo but it'll never get one
Why would it need a rest. If you are tired of the franchise don't buy the game. I got tired of COD a few years ago. So I stopped buying it at launch. Now I'm more refreshed in a sense from it. I don't need activision to stop making games
 
Nov 24, 2013
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Halo needs to be doing more IMO to make it standout as the must own shooter. Nowadays it's lost in a sea of many. It's supposedly Microsoft's premium IP and they are just too lackadaisical with it for me.

I don't think there is anything wrong with a new one every 3 years, but that should be it. No spin offs on the side or things like that.
 
Dec 8, 2013
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Halo needs to be doing more IMO to make it standout as the must own shooter. Nowadays it's lost in a sea of many. It's supposedly Microsoft's premium IP and they are just too lackadaisical with it for me.

I don't think there is anything wrong with a new one every 3 years, but that should be it. No spin offs on the side or things like that.
I want my Halo RPG!
 
Aug 14, 2016
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Halo's main problem was the games sales and popularity never converted in to it's level of production. When I think of a 14 million selling game I think of a game with very high production levels that outreach the competition. I think of a Rockstar game, a Dice game or a Blizzard game. If Microsoft wants halo to be this 10 million plus seller they have to treat it with the money, talent and time. A Halo game every 4 or 5 years with level of content and quality deserving of the sales would be great. It would allow for their GAAS Halo model to have a longer tail as well. Microsoft should treat Halo likes it GTA.
 
Aug 3, 2015
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Halo's main problem was the games sales and popularity never converted in to it's level of production. When I think of a 14 million selling game I think of a game with very high production levels that outreach the competition. I think of a Rockstar game, a Dice game or a Blizzard game. If Microsoft wants halo to be this 10 million plus seller they have to treat it with the money, talent and time. A Halo game every 4 or 5 years with level of content and quality deserving of the sales would be great. It would allow for their GAAS Halo model to have a longer tail as well. Microsoft should treat Halo likes it GTA.
Totally agree. It's the same for gears of war btw.
 
Dec 9, 2013
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Halo's main problem was the games sales and popularity never converted in to it's level of production. When I think of a 14 million selling game I think of a game with very high production levels that outreach the competition. I think of a Rockstar game, a Dice game or a Blizzard game. If Microsoft wants halo to be this 10 million plus seller they have to treat it with the money, talent and time. A Halo game every 4 or 5 years with level of content and quality deserving of the sales would be great. It would allow for their GAAS Halo model to have a longer tail as well. Microsoft should treat Halo likes it GTA.
I mean the games as a service model does have a faculty long tail at this point at 18 months and it's going to get a boost once gamepass launches.
 
Dec 13, 2006
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Why would it need a rest. If you are tired of the franchise don't buy the game. I got tired of COD a few years ago. So I stopped buying it at launch. Now I'm more refreshed in a sense from it. I don't need activision to stop making games
Because I don't think continually releasing games in the franchise in the frequency they are currently is doing its overall health and value to xbox much good?

It's not like it comes out every 3 years, there's stuff all over the place, consumers get fatigued and at some point quality suffers.

Halo 5 can carry on as a service for a while longer
 
Jun 12, 2013
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It's not so much asking Halo to go and rest, but rather if 343i is going to maintain the same trajectory and have Halo 6/7 be Halo 5 with a prettier coat of paint/more content...

Instead of 3 years, maybe it'd be a good risk if they were give 5-6 years to completely rethink Halo again and find a new pivot that can re-excite the gaming community the same way the original trilogy did.

It doesn't even have to be anything drastic like a genre-change (RPG) or massive shake-up in mechanics/design (Zelda). But simply an "angle" to the franchise that would make people who are tired of Halo turn their heads once more.

You know, something like how COD4's modern warfare setting, stellar campaign, MP elements stuff completely shook up COD.
 
Aug 29, 2014
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Halo's main problem was the games sales and popularity never converted in to it's level of production. When I think of a 14 million selling game I think of a game with very high production levels that outreach the competition. I think of a Rockstar game, a Dice game or a Blizzard game. If Microsoft wants halo to be this 10 million plus seller they have to treat it with the money, talent and time. A Halo game every 4 or 5 years with level of content and quality deserving of the sales would be great. It would allow for their GAAS Halo model to have a longer tail as well. Microsoft should treat Halo likes it GTA.
This sounds like it would be an amazing game if Microsoft followed the GAAS model.

I want my Halo RPG!
Yep, I feel this would be the best step to take for like the next generation of xbox console. I think a free to play halo would work well in combination with that RPG.
 
Dec 13, 2006
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It's not so much asking Halo to go and rest, but rather if 343i is going to maintain the same trajectory and have Halo 6/7 be Halo 5 with a prettier coat of paint/more content...

Instead of 3 years, maybe it'd be a good risk if they were give 5-6 years to completely rethink Halo again and find a new pivot that can re-excite the gaming community the same way the original trilogy did.

It doesn't even have to be anything drastic like a genre-change or massive shake-up in mechanics. But simply an "angle" to the franchise that would make people who are tired of Halo turn their heads once more.
I don't really trust 343 with this though, they'd probably be better off giving halo to someone else and starting their own ip
 
Nov 24, 2013
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Halo's main problem was the games sales and popularity never converted in to it's level of production. When I think of a 14 million selling game I think of a game with very high production levels that outreach the competition. I think of a Rockstar game, a Dice game or a Blizzard game. If Microsoft wants halo to be this 10 million plus seller they have to treat it with the money, talent and time. A Halo game every 4 or 5 years with level of content and quality deserving of the sales would be great. It would allow for their GAAS Halo model to have a longer tail as well. Microsoft should treat Halo likes it GTA.
Yes, very good point. If Microsoft want to continue with these long running IP's they need to give them much more attention. Putting out just a good or very good game isn't enough, it needs to be excellent and leading the genre.
 
Aug 14, 2016
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Totally agree. It's the same for gears of war btw.
I don't know if I would stretch that to gears it doesn't have the potential cash flow to allow that, and a gears doesn't really need that many people or production time. Coalition a 200 person studio delivered gears 4 and ultimate edition in a shorter than normal production time and it had loads of content and set a graphical bar for xbox first party. I think the best thing to do for gears is to alternate it between another game developed by the coalition, similar to naughty dog with uncharted and the last of us. But obviously were naughty dog had issues I don't think we would see them under Rod Fergusson's management, that guy is super efficient.
 
Dec 9, 2013
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Because I don't think continually releasing games in the franchise in the frequency they are currently is doing its overall health and value to xbox much good?

It's not like it comes out every 3 years, there's stuff all over the place, consumers get fatigued and at some point quality suffers.

Halo 5 can carry on as a service for a while longer
See that's where I disagree. If halo were to take a 5-6 year break, that would hurt it way more than continuing to churn out sequels. Once it gets out of the mind, it's not just going to claw its way back to a whole new generation of people. Also while it's "fatigued", they would be leaving way too much money on the table. Releasing halo in 5 years from now isn't suddenly going to make it a 20 million seller game or make up for not having 5 years of game sales and micro transactions
 
Mar 5, 2014
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I agree.
I would love to see a Halo games with a longer development cycle.

I think Naughty dog have found a good formula where they have two teams that work on games at the same time. One team will be smaller while the other is bigger.
The bigger team makes asset and produces the next upcoming game while the smaller team is making prototypes and writing (pre production stuff) for what will become their next next game.

At least I believe I read somewhere that this is how they operate, and to me it sounds like quite a good plan as it gives their games more time in planning and pre production stage while ensuring that artists who need to have assets to make and such always have something to work on rather than being laid off and then rehired and such as I have read about happening at some studios.
 
Aug 14, 2016
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I agree.
I would love to see a Halo games with a longer development cycle.

I think Naughty dog have found a good formula where they have two teams that work on games at the same time. One team will be smaller while the other is bigger.
The bigger team makes asset and produces the next upcoming game while the smaller team is making prototypes and writing (pre production stuff) for what will become their next next game.

At least I believe I read somewhere that this is how they operate, and to me it sounds like quite a good plan as it gives their games more time in planning and pre production stage while ensuring that artists who need to have assets to make and such always have something to work on rather than being laid off and then rehired and such as I have read about happening at some studios.
GAAS model also allows for artists to have something to work on and avoids down sizing during projects, so thats not really a issue for 343 as they have two teams a live team and a production team.
 
Jun 12, 2013
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343i doesn't need to follow ND's model, since as put; they have a sizable live team, production team and a clear road map for development well in advance of whatever game they're making at point in time.

They've said it before that they've pretty much planned out the high level story of what their next 3 games would look like, and thus they pretty much get to work on the next Halo as soon as the last one ships with already a clear framework in place.

If anything, ND is a relatively inefficient team by games industry standards from a writing perspective. The Lost Legacy took them approximately a month or two of story brainstorming, because ideas didn't start getting cemented until after UC4 went gold?

ND makes up for their pre-production inefficiencies by being set up for quick iterations in development. But that's not an aspect that 343i needs to ape.
 
Apr 25, 2015
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343i really lacks the talented creative leads to really revitalize it to the previous standards of the franchise. H5 got the gameplay down but when you look at the other areas of the game I don't see similar results. I don't think highly of that team considering their lead writer is a comic book writer who has written b tier marvel comics and worked on spartan ops.

For your crown Jewel IP you need to spend the money if need be to court these creatives. Halo in the past launched as an event a part of that has to do with the game being regarded as high quality around and content rich. Halo 5 launched with the least amount of modes and lack of social playlists compared to predecessors

The campaign disappoints from having the Prometheans still being boring to fight, the warden fights being terribly designed and repetitive. The story is non existent, Chief is barely in the game and Locke seems one dimensional and isn't a contrast to Chief at all.

As a fan of the series after Halo 6 I would like to see a soft reboot starring Master Chief in a mysterious setting where they just go all out and make things interesting again without all the extra baggage they've introduced. They're is just too much they've introduced and not executed on to really care about the current direction.

Part of me thinks more time to iterate on the game would've helped them but it's Halo and it needed to hit for them. It's their biggest IP it's not going anywhere especially with all the flops they've had this gen.

I think this plays a part in their new IP investment in a negative way. In the 360 era Halo and Gears were able to cover the games that flopped. They generated the sales that could do so. From MS culture it seems that they need sales from their IPs in general now because Halo and Gears aren't picked up the slack for the IPs that are doing badly on their first entry but they have potential.

Going back to 343 the problem is that they don't have the Creatives that would essentially champion their vision against management and Microsoft due to not really having the credibility and freedom for it. They also need to do a much better job on the management front of the IP.
 
Dec 13, 2006
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See that's where I disagree. If halo were to take a 5-6 year break, that would hurt it way more than continuing to churn out sequels. Once it gets out of the mind, it's not just going to claw its way back to a whole new generation of people. Also while it's "fatigued", they would be leaving way too much money on the table. Releasing halo in 5 years from now isn't suddenly going to make it a 20 million seller game or make up for not having 5 years of game sales and micro transactions
Might not making it a 20m seller, might avoid doing more damage to the franchise though, which they've been doing quite a lot since they took over.

I guess we will see what they they took from Halo 5 and see if it actually makes Halo 6 a better game because if it doesnt i'd argue there may well be much less money being left on the table than you would think.
 
Mar 26, 2013
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Next year is BF2 and the next CoD from Treyarch (any other FPS?), so as long as Halo 6 release date isn't very close to these two titles, it should do well. September would the best time for its release.

Gears 5 though, seriously needs to make big changes to the formula. Gears 4 didn't do that well (for gears game), and from the look of it the MP is not very well liked.
 
Jun 3, 2014
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Next year is BF2 and the next CoD from Treytech (any other FPS?), so as long as Halo 6 release date isn't very close to these two titles, it should do well. September would the best time for its release.
Will probably come out early October again. Sept is forza time and they aren't gonna put halo next to forza horizon 4. Not to mention you've got fifa and I think madden too. Also a first destiny expansion
 
Apr 25, 2015
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Will probably come out early October again. Sept is forza time and they aren't gonna put halo next to forza horizon 4. Not to mention you've got fifa and I think madden too
Halo 5 was actually late October, it was Gears 4 that was early October. Madden is late August and Fifa is September. For Halo though Cod and Bf are bigger competition than Fifa and Madden are for it because of being in the same genre.
 
Aug 11, 2016
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Yawn. You guys are crazy. Halo 5 was pretty damn good. The only part that was very questionable was the multiple wardens. It has beautiful environments and the traversal is better than ever. Enemies are more satisfying to kill than Halo 4 too.

Multi is the best in the series.
 
Oct 23, 2011
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Recore didn't perform well, not critically nor finacially. The reason it's being still worked on is most likely because it has a champion: Phil Spencer. For some reason, he really likes the game.
It's not that surprising since everything I've heard is that the game start out very strong but the further you go the more unfinished it gets, and it culminates in the "ending" which just abruptly ends the whole thing with one of the cores missing and a large chunk of the map completely unused.
 
Aug 14, 2016
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If I were to go about the best way to structure MS studios and their production times I would go with something like this:

343 - A 4-5 year production time (due to the team size 450 plus)
- Focus on internal tech and Halo engine (lead studio)
- Focus on core content (Maps, modes etc)
- 3 Team approach to development, Live team, production team and prototyping team
- A 3 year GAAS support time after launch followed by a year of small updates
- Rockstars approach of just building on the core fundamentals to massive heights
(open world size, intractability, AI, LOD and graphics etc.)
- Using Halo as a core platform feature not game
- Using Halo to emphasise platform features (Live, Cloud, Arena etc.)

Coalition - A four team approach, Live team, Production team A, Production team B & Prototype
- Two franchise approach, alternating between the two at a two year gap
- Refocusing of gears to it’s original war story and horrors elements
- Focus on holding on to it’s TPS crown, but continue to redefine it rather than stagnate
- A more clear focus on story, as their other studios don’t have a focus in this area
- A new IP that can follow the GAAS model but is story focused single player
- A live team that works across both franchises
- A prototype teamed that is constantly in pre-production for both franchises
- A increase in team size were appropriate
- A four year development time with smaller production teams (100-150)
- Rod organising a studio heads structure
- Defining clear creative leads within the studio, Rod focuses on management

Turn 10 - A three studio approach, Playground, Turn 10 & a new studio
- A new franchise entry for Forza, Motorsport, Horizon & Underground?
- A three year development cycle for Horizon and Underground
- A four year development cycle for motorsport (2 per generation)
- A focus on a longer multiplayer focused GAAS model
- A redesigned GAAS model that doesn’t focus on car packs but expansions
- A introduction of cosmetic transactions to lower expansion entry price
- Free race track model, subsidised
- A focus on building a competitive model for Motorsport
- Horizon continuing to focus on expanding the casual audience
- Underground would not follow any GAAS model to avoid competition and team size

Rare - Blizzard model of multiple GAAS games with long-tail support
- Evergreen studio, studio is seen as a revenue generator rather than IP studio
- Internal Publishing team focused on reviving old franchises (IG would report to Rare)
- Continue a New IP focus, it’s good to have a studio known for that
- GAAS Focus (their studio started restructuring two years ago) they have handled it very well
- Platform focused, Rare is seen as integral as xbox live to the platform revenue model
- Embrace history to build a studio image similar to a Nintendo or Rockstar
- Rare seen as a publishing label for other internal MS studio projects (Ori etc)
- Multi team approach, multiple live teams supporting multiple GAAS titles and prototype
- Community driven design, not in prototype but polish and content generation
- 4-6 Year development times using small core teams
- Focus on constant prototyping for new IP and existing GAAS
- Eventual Multi small studio style approach, similar to Dice
- Studios shouldn’t eclipse 150 people
- Eventual solely live team studio accompanying the main studio

Mojang - Internal indie development, developed by the Minecraft teams (Cobalt, scrolls etc.)
- Continue to do what their doing

Microsoft Studios Development team (90 Developers Seattle) (?? Developers England)
- Continue to focus the publishing arm on second party studios (Undead labs etc.)
- Development on core MS studio PC franchises ( AOE, Mech series etc.)

Lionhead - Rebuilding the studio from the ground up to support the large RPG model
- They have shown they know how to build internal studios with coalition and 343
- Small 30 people creative leads team that builds the studio
- Focus on large open world RPG market (Witcher, Fallout etc)
- One large team focused on a single project over 4 years
- GAAS support through large expansions
- Second smaller team focused on expansion content
- Core engine and technology team, Prototyping team

I wouldn’t expand First party anymore than this, it would also have to be expanded slowly over time especially in Rare’s case. I would also have a team working solely on the Pc Platform similar to the xbox platform team. A store that is viable would go along way in making this sort of restructuring more viable in the short term.
 
Nov 11, 2015
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It's not that surprising since everything I've heard is that the game start out very strong but the further you go the more unfinished it gets, and it culminates in the "ending" which just abruptly ends the whole thing with one of the cores missing and a large chunk of the map completely unused.
Probably why they are coming out with a definitive edition.
 
Jun 12, 2013
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Yawn. You guys are crazy. Halo 5 was pretty damn good. The only part that was very questionable was the multiple wardens. It has beautiful environments and the traversal is better than ever. Enemies are more satisfying to kill than Halo 4 too.

Multi is the best in the series.
Part of the context here is discussing what needs to be done to re-elevate Halo, given sales results speak for themselves, that Halo 5 has faced a decline.

And while Metacritic and MC user scores aren't everything, it shows an reception that sees Halo 5 as a good product, but not necessarily a product that rekindles the flames of Bungie yore.

Being 'damn good' isn't enough.
 

Sony

Nintendo
Jun 15, 2016
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Halo needs to be doing more IMO to make it standout as the must own shooter. Nowadays it's lost in a sea of many. It's supposedly Microsoft's premium IP and they are just too lackadaisical with it for me.

I don't think there is anything wrong with a new one every 3 years, but that should be it. No spin offs on the side or things like that.
It can't. Halo is at a place where if it tries to innovate people will hate it for not being Halo and if they keep it classic, people will hate it for not evolving. There is no win/win for Halo. Growing up with HALO 1-3, I really loved Halo 5's MP.
 
Jun 3, 2014
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Halo 5 was actually late October, it was Gears 4 that was early October. Madden is late August and Fifa is September. For Halo though Cod and Bf are bigger competition than Fifa and Madden are for it because of being in the same genre.
Oh yeah. September has destiny expansion too which will probably be just as big if not bigger than those two (ttk sold more than the base game did at launch right? Or am I misremembering). Genre doesn't help but halo will be swamped out if it releases in September imo and will hurt fh4 aswell.
 
Aug 14, 2016
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Gears 5 though, seriously needs to make big changes to the formula. Gears 4 didn't do that well (for gears game), and from the look of it the MP is not very well liked.
I don't know were you got that from, Gears 4 multiplayer makes previous games look like a 5 year old created them in MS paint. If only seen a lot of praise for multiplayer and horde as the best in the series. The multiplayer team over at the coalition is great at responding to the community and make quick changes.
 
Jun 12, 2013
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Oh yeah. September has destiny expansion too which will probably be just as big if not bigger than those two (ttk sold more than the base game did at launch right? Or am I misremembering). Genre doesn't help but halo will be swamped out if it releases in September imo and will hurt fh4 aswell.
I think you're remembering wrongly. Destiny (vanilla) sold extremely well. If TTK had outsold base Destiny, it would've been a bigger news.
 
Dec 9, 2013
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Next year is BF2 and the next CoD from Treyarch (any other FPS?), so as long as Halo 6 release date isn't very close to these two titles, it should do well. September would the best time for its release.

Gears 5 though, seriously needs to make big changes to the formula. Gears 4 didn't do that well (for gears game), and from the look of it the MP is not very well liked.
Not really. The MP is liked but the gears MP is way more niche and hardcore than a halo which has a bunch of goofy mini games and warzone( which contrary to the the it gets online is probably one of the most popular modes). Even in the gears social modes new players are going to get wrecked. Way more than a COD or a Halo

Gears doesn't need any innovation. It needs to just have its place with the hardcore fan base. I felt that Gears 4 needed to come out. Now that it has, I don't think 5 is as necessary right away. Not that it needs a rest or anything, but the formula is as perfect as it's gonna get