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News Xbox Game Studios in execution mode but still acquiring, says Spencer

CurryPanda

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I'd love to see us continue to get new storytellers with new points of view into our first-party portfolio."

While Xbox Game Studios is largely in “execution mode”, developing new games for the likes of Xbox Series X, Phil Spencer told Stevivor that it still has gaps and the need for “new points of view”.

“We’re always open”
At E3 2018, Spencer confirmed that Xbox Game Studios had acquired Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few), Undead Labs (State of Decay 2) and Playground Games (Forza Horizon 4) in addition to the formation of a new studio called The Initiative. This was followed up by the acquisition of Obsidian (The Outer Worlds) and inXile Entertainment (Wasteland 3) later that same year. While Spencer is pleased with the Xbox Game Studios’ growth, he still says there’s room for improvement.

“We’re always open,” Spencer said when asked if he was still interested in acquiring new developers. “I liked the geographic diversity that we’ve been growing with our studios. If you look at Asia, we don’t have any first party studios in Asia. I think that’s an opportunity for us.”



“We’ve moved from acquisition mode to execution mode,” Spencer continued. “[We are] sitting here with 15 plus studios working on games. But it’s not about a logo parade, or ‘look at who we acquired this week’, but really about what games [the studios] are going to go build.

“I do think that a strong, growing first-party is definitely part of our strategy,” he concluded. “I’d love to see us continue to get new storytellers with new points of view into our first-party portfolio.”

“It’s really what creatives will do”
At X019 in London, Xbox announced Obsidian’s Grounded alongside another look at Ninja Theory’s Bleeding Edge.

“Both of those were started before the acquisition,” Spencer stressed. “So we saw them when we were going through acquisitions at both studios.

“It’s really what creative studios will do — they’ll usually find a small group that wants to go off and try something different. It’s funny with Ninja Theory, because my first game with Nina [Kristensen] and Tameem [Antoniades, co-founders of the studio] was Kung Fu Chaoson the original Xbox. I see similarities betweenKung Fu Chaos and what Bleeding Edge is.”



Spencer said he hopes that Xbox Game Studios can help to nuture that state of creativity.

“The ability to give studios financial stability so they can experiment with new things, absolutely, is one of the things that Matt [Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios] and the team brings,” he said.

“Because you have enough studios and enough rolling business, it’s not make or break for every experiment that a studio takes. We should be able to take some risks.”

While Microsoft has confirmed what Ninja Theory’s next project is — Senua’s Saga:Hellblade 2 — we still don’t know what the next big things are from most of the teams at Xbox Game Studios. With head Matt Booty confirming we’ll see newly announced titles on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X for the next few years, those confirmations shouldn’t be too far off.

 

Lady Bernkastel

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I do have a feeling that they will go after someone in Poland(Bloober Team or Astronaut) or Japan(White Owl or Valhalla), many XGS staffs were in Poland and Japan few weeks ago. In a past interview they said that they are satisfied with their lineup in NA and UK, so it seems that they are now moving into mainland Europe or Asia. There were some job postings for Xbox Game Studios Asian division in Japan.
Or they may still continue in NA(maybe studios like Ready at Dawn).
 
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godhandiscen

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I think Spencer became in charge 5 years ago, and I know he has had to deal with all the mistakes of the previous leadership, but he hasn’t done anything for me as a gamer. This generation there wasn’t a single Xbox exclusive worth my time.

The fun thing is that I didn’t realize how shit the Xbox ecosystem was until my girlfriend got me into the Switch. People love to praise this guy, but to me, he represents the worst generation of Xbox, along with Mattrick. I have never seen so much championing for a executive who pretty much gave up on a generation.
 
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Hendrick's

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I think Spencer became in charge 5 years ago, and I know he has had to deal with all the mistakes of the previous leadership, but he hasn’t done anything for me as a gamer. This generation there wasn’t a single Xbox exclusive worth my time.

The fun thing is that I didn’t realize how shit the Xbox ecosystem was until my girlfriend got me into the Switch. People love to praise this guy, but to me, he represents the worst generation of Xbox, along with Mattrick. I have never seen so much championing for a executive who pretty much gave up on a generation.
He has only truly has the reins for 2 years.
 

Lady Bernkastel

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I think Spencer became in charge 5 years ago, and I know he has had to deal with all the mistakes of the previous leadership, but he hasn’t done anything for me as a gamer. This generation there wasn’t a single Xbox exclusive worth my time.

The fun thing is that I didn’t realize how shit the Xbox ecosystem was until my girlfriend got me into the Switch. People love to praise this guy, but to me, he represents the worst generation of Xbox, along with Mattrick. I have never seen so much championing for a executive who pretty much gave up on a generation.
He didnt even have the first party studios to do what he wants when he came to power. Most of the games signed by Don Matrick like Crackdown 3,Scalebound,Fable Legends,Recore and Dead Rising 3/4 were just mediocre. It takes some time to get your first party at the same level as your competition.
What did you expect ? Announce and release games like Halo Infinite and Hellblade II by 2016. Games are not made in a year or two.
 

Lady Bernkastel

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What if they brought Capcom?.
Microsoft does not want to buy publishers, they would rather buy small and talented studios and raise them. The best we would see is Street Fighter X Killer Instinct from Capcom.
People here hate this strategy, but this is how Sony did acquisitions in the past - they will buy small studios like Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Guerilla Games and Bend, and grow them to what they are now.
 
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JoeyWestSide

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Microsoft does not want to buy publishers, they would rather buy small and talented studios and raise them. The best we would see is Street Fighter X Killer Instinct from Capcom.
People here hate this strategy, but this is how Sony did acquisitions in the past - they will buy small studios like Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Guerilla Games and Bend, and grow them to what they are now.
I agree. They'd be better off buying IP than publishers themselves since that business would be redundant. Heck, look at hellblade 2, that game looks rediculous for a double A type of studio just a couple years ago. If they can do that a studio like Compulsion could make something twice as good as we happy few.
 
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Lady Bernkastel

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I agree. They'd be better off buying IP than publishers themselves since that business would be redundant. Heck, look at hellblade 2, that game looks rediculous for a double A type of studio just a couple years ago. If they can do that a studio like Compulsion could make something twice as good as we happy few.
Both Compulsion and InXile job postings indicate that they are going AAA.
 

DESTROYA

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Execution you say? Who’s on the chopping block?
Next Xbox better be a hit or heads are going to roll.
 
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xiseerht

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I think a developer in Asia is probable the next buy for them ( Russia , China , Japan , etc)
 

Mista

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Next-gen is where you correct this gen's mistakes. Showing interest in SP games is enough for me to see where they're headed

MS never showed interest in SP even during the 360 days which was a better gen for Xbox. You can't also bring anyone from anywhere

You wan't top quality SP games? You try and get veterans in to do the work.
 

Gashtronomy

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Yet he wasn't given actual control and a budget until the end of 2017.
What was he doing for three years?

I'll give him the benefit of the doubt at the moment, as Microsoft seem to be moving in to the next gen with a stronger plan, than last generation, even though they are now on a weaker standing with the industry vs the days of the 360
 

Hendrick's

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What was he doing for three years?
Leading a sub-division with no budget or support from upper management. Basically keeping the lights on until MS could figure out what to do with the sinking ship. He somehow convinced the CEO to not only make Xbox its own division and put him in charge, but to breathe new life into the brand, and more importantly, open up the checkbook.

Make no mistake, the XseX is his make it or break it moment.
 
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GreenAlien

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What does "execution mode" even mean? Are there times when the studios all just do nothing and "save money" for new acquisitions to be bought? No game development during "acquisition mode"?

This is just nonsense.
 
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Vawn

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I think Spencer became in charge 5 years ago, and I know he has had to deal with all the mistakes of the previous leadership, but he hasn’t done anything for me as a gamer. This generation there wasn’t a single Xbox exclusive worth my time.
He's talked a lot though and for many that seems to be enough. If you want games you go with Nintendo and PlayStation. If you want non-stop PR you go with snake oil salesman Mr. Phil Spencer.
 

SuperLupeRap

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What does "execution mode" even mean? Are there times when the studios all just do nothing and "save money" for new acquisitions to be bought? No game development during "acquisition mode"?

This is just nonsense.
Have you ever had acorporate job in your life?

For instance I'm pretty sure the Initiative were on a planning and prototyping phase for a long time before put things into design and production.

Not too hard to understand.
 
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SuperLupeRap

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He's talked a lot though and for many that seems to be enough. If you want games you go with Nintendo and PlayStation. If you want non-stop PR you go with snake oil salesman Mr. Phil Spencer.
You've got a few more months of using that tired line so milk it as hard as you can buddy.

PS5 better not come out with a barren lineup for the first few years like the PS3. I guess you were playing on the Wii and 360 back then right?
 
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chemical boy

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Yesterday comes the rumor of Sony acquiring a study and a few hours later MS talks about making possible purchases. It seems that its only purpose is to imitate Sony
 
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GreenAlien

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For instance I'm pretty sure the Initiative were on a planning and prototyping phase for a long time before put things into design and production.
"The Initiative" seems to be a new studio MS founded themselves. Can that really be called an acquisition? For studios that are not new, I fully expect them to always be planning something and executing some of the previously planned things at the same time.
 
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Dane

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What if they brought Capcom?.
If they did, it would be the same thing as Mojang, nothing changes on platform matters.

Not impossible, but Mojang acquisition was one the best opportunities in gaming, the game still sells like hotcakes and ported like hell.
 

DoctorEkkoUK

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I think Spencer became in charge 5 years ago, and I know he has had to deal with all the mistakes of the previous leadership, but he hasn’t done anything for me as a gamer. This generation there wasn’t a single Xbox exclusive worth my time.

The fun thing is that I didn’t realize how shit the Xbox ecosystem was until my girlfriend got me into the Switch. People love to praise this guy, but to me, he represents the worst generation of Xbox, along with Mattrick. I have never seen so much championing for a executive who pretty much gave up on a generation.
To be fair to the guy he can't just conjur games out of his butt. If he took charge 5 years ago to a platform without games or developers then the time it takes to aquire developers and then have them develop decent games is going to be at least 5 years. We will find out how well he has done in the next year or two with the launch of the new console and the release of some of these studios 1st party games.

I would also argue that in those 5 years he has turned the xboxone brand around from a completley underpowered lame duck to the most powerful current gen console with the X and the best backwards compatability, he has also built good faith with the quality of things like gamepass, play anywhere and sharing exclusives with PC.
 
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Snake29

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What does "execution mode" even mean? Are there times when the studios all just do nothing and "save money" for new acquisitions to be bought? No game development during "acquisition mode"?

This is just nonsense.
Then they are in “execution mode” for more then 3 years..haha.
 
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Vawn

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PS5 better not come out with a barren lineup for the first few years like the PS3. I guess you were playing on the Wii and 360 back then right?
Yes, actually. During the first part of the PS360 generation most of my gaming time was on 360. About half-way through that generation PS3 started getting better games, so I started using it more, but I still used my 360.

That didn't stop me from getting an Xbox One. They completely abandoned me. It has only gotten worse since Phil took over.
 

Panajev2001a

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He didnt even have the first party studios to do what he wants when he came to power.
He was Xbox Game Studios General Manager before becoming Xbox's boss (which was a promotion before becoming VP under Nadella). Fair, we know he is doing good moves and it takes time for some of them to bear fruit, but we are giving this one all the excuses possible... sometimes a bit too many.
 
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Lady Bernkastel

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no more gamepass studios. buy legit AAA studios. they should have bought Respawn.
Ninja Theory, Obsidian, Playground Games and Initiative are more legit AAA then Respawn. The last thing Xbox needs is another fps studio.
Even the job postings for Compulsion and InXile indicate they are going full AAA. Undead Labs is also upto something with the new studio.
 

TeamGhobad

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Ninja Theory, Obsidian, Playground Games and Initiative are more legit AAA then Respawn. The last thing Xbox needs is another fps studio.
Even the job postings for Compulsion and InXile indicate they are going full AAA. Undead Labs is also upto something with the new studio.
no they aren't.
 

JLB

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I think Spencer became in charge 5 years ago, and I know he has had to deal with all the mistakes of the previous leadership, but he hasn’t done anything for me as a gamer. This generation there wasn’t a single Xbox exclusive worth my time.

The fun thing is that I didn’t realize how shit the Xbox ecosystem was until my girlfriend got me into the Switch. People love to praise this guy, but to me, he represents the worst generation of Xbox, along with Mattrick. I have never seen so much championing for a executive who pretty much gave up on a generation.
I have a Switch and its ecosystem is horrendous. I mean, unbelievable horrible. Theres nothing that comes even closer to Xbox on this regard. From refunding policies, pricing, region locked accounts, voice chat, store offers, etc.
I praise Spencer because when he took Xbox leadership, Xbox sold 49k consoles on May 2014, on US. Basically Xbox was dead. Now the console and the platform as a whole looks really great. Also, under his leadership, as Xbox user, I got phenomenal backwards compatibility, two amazing SKUs (S and X) that are orders or magnitude better than the base model, and the wonderful Gamepass, which changed -for good- my gaming habits. Also, and this is more a regional thing, pricing on the store is incredible much better on Xbox than in competition. Takes this as example:

On local Playstation store, FIFA 20 Ultimate is at usd120, while on Xbox store is at a third of that:







At current exchange, FIFA 20 is ARS9000 on PS Store. On Xbox, is 3999. Same game, same version, same everything.
 
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DynamiteCop!

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He has only truly has the reins for 2 years.
This is actually true and a lot of people don't know this. He became the face of Xbox as the "head" 5 years ago but his boss who he now has the position of was Terry Myerson. A lot of people don't even know who that is, they've never heard his name but he was the one calling all the shots.

Myerson was horrible for Xbox, he held a general divisional position and oversaw not just Xbox but like 2-3 other divisions as well. On top of this he didn't have interest or faith in the division, he was by the books a suit which was tasked with overseeing something he didn't care about.
 

Lady Bernkastel

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He was Xbox Game Studios General Manager before becoming Xbox's boss (which was a promotion before becoming VP under Nadella). Fair, we know he is doing good moves and it takes time for some of them to bear fruit, but we are giving this one all the excuses possible... sometimes a bit too many.
You know he had less power than Matt Booty. Unlike Phil Spencer now, Don Matrick was not even an executive, Xbox was a subdivision under Terry Myerson's Windows Devices group. If Don Matrick wanted to focus on kinect he had to do that, if Terry Myerson wanted to reduce budget he had to do that, if Steve Balmer wanted to focus on cloud he had to do that. The command chain was Steve Balmer -> Terry Myerson -> Don Matrick -> Phil Spencer. It moved up a bit to Satya Nadella -> Terry Myerson -> Phil Spencer until 2017 when gaming finally became its own division and Phil Spencer was directly reported to Satya Nadella. This is why he suddenly started buying those studios.
And within 3 years he added 8 new studios and has already started announcing those big budget AAA games for XSX.
 

DynamiteCop!

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You know he had less power than Matt Booty. Unlike Phil Spencer now, Don Matrick was not even an executive, Xbox was a subdivision under Terry Myerson's Windows Devices group. If Don Matrick wanted to focus on kinect he had to do that, if Terry Myerson wanted to reduce budget he had to do that, if Steve Balmer wanted to focus on cloud he had to do that. The command chain was Steve Balmer -> Terry Myerson -> Don Matrick -> Phil Spencer. It moved up a bit to Satya Nadella -> Terry Myerson -> Phil Spencer until 2017 when gaming finally became its own division and Phil Spencer was directly reported to Satya Nadella. This is why he suddenly started buying those studios.
And within 3 years he added 8 new studios and has already started announcing those big budget AAA games for XSX.
Yeah, a lot of people not only don't know the chain of events they didn't truly understand the hierarchy of who was actually in charge.
 

Lady Bernkastel

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Just on pedigree alone no. today no chance.
What are you trying to say ? Hellblade II to looks better than anything Respawn will ever make and a few months ago you considered them AA. Most of these studios have also grown under Microsoft. The same goes for Halo Infinite, its not something I would expect from Respawn.
 
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Panajev2001a

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You know he had less power than Matt Booty. Unlike Phil Spencer now, Don Matrick was not even an executive, Xbox was a subdivision under Terry Myerson's Windows Devices group. If Don Matrick wanted to focus on kinect he had to do that, if Terry Myerson wanted to reduce budget he had to do that, if Steve Balmer wanted to focus on cloud he had to do that. The command chain was Steve Balmer -> Terry Myerson -> Don Matrick -> Phil Spencer. It moved up a bit to Satya Nadella -> Terry Myerson -> Phil Spencer until 2017 when gaming finally became its own division and Phil Spencer was directly reported to Satya Nadella. This is why he suddenly started buying those studios.
And within 3 years he added 8 new studios and has already started announcing those big budget AAA games for XSX.
If you say so... :rolleyes:...
 

TeamGhobad

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What are you trying to say ? Hellblade II to looks better than anything Respawn will ever make and a few months ago you considered them AA. Most of these studios have also grown under Microsoft. The same goes for Halo Infinite, its not something I would expect from Respawn.
hellblade 2 is not even out. and yes Respawn old infinityward is a far more accomplished developer than all of them put together.
 

Vawn

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The fact that they consider "execution mode" something they are only in at certain times is very telling