Microsoft announced that it has acquired Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, Playground Games, and Compulsion Games during their E3 2018 presentation.
This acquisition comes with the announcement of a new Microsoft game studio known as The Initiative in Santa Manica, according to The Guardian.
The acquisition of Ninja Theory is perhaps the most anticipated. The Cambridge-based studio is best known for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, DmC: Devil May Cry, Enslaved: Journey to the West, and Heavenly Sword. Hellblade is especially notable out of all of them as it won multiple BAFTAs along with selling half a million copies all without the backing of a major publisher, according to PC Gamer.
Undead Labs was behind the State of Decay series. The studio was formed in 2009 by game industry veteran Jeff Strain. Both State of Decay games were Xbox and Windows exclusives.
Playground Games was founded in 2010 and is behind the Forza Horizon series, according to Variety. The studio announced in 2017 that they are creating a new team for creating open world action RPGs, according to the publication. The next entry in the series, Forza Horizon 4, was announced at Microsoft’s E3 2018 presentation.
Compulsion Games is behind the Kickstarter-funded We Happy Few, which is due for release on August 10, 2018 according to the E3 press conference.
Undead Labs, Playground Games, and Ninja Theory have all sent statements regarding the acquisition (via Gematsu).
Today at the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing, Head of Gaming Phil Spencer announced that Undead Labs, the studio behind the State of Decay franchise, is joining the Microsoft Studios family. The team at Undead Labs has worked in close partnership with Microsoft Studios since 2010, and we are now joining forces to take State of Decay even further.
Five years ago we released the original State of Decay for Xbox 360, a unique survival-fantasy game that broke many established rules of game design, including permanent character death. We hoped that players would enjoy feeling like they were playing a true survival experience, with real consequences, and we were humbled and excited when the game attracted a passionate and dedicated fanbase numbering in the millions.
On May 22, we launched the ambitious sequel State of Decay 2, deepening the survival-fantasy experience with a larger world, a more sophisticated simulation, a broader selection of base building and customization options, and the number-one fan-requested feature: co-op multiplayer. As with the original State of Decay, the game has developed a strong fanbase, with over two million players building communities, creating personal stories, and taking down more than two billion zeds within the first two weeks since release. We have been elated by the fan reception and look forward to continuing to support and enhance State of Decay 2.
This acquisition signals Microsoft’s and Undead Labs’ commitment to growing the State of Decay franchise and continuing to deliver the ultimate zombie survival experiences for fans, both those new to the franchise and those already dedicated to the community. On behalf of Undead Labs and Microsoft, I’d like to thank the fans of the game for giving us the opportunity to continue building the world of State of Decay.
Stay safe out there!
At E3 today, Head of Gaming Phil Spencer announced several new investments Microsoft is making to vastly increase our resources for developing original content. It was a direct message to our incredibly dedicated fans who inspire what we do and why we do it. We know you want high quality, innovative content, and we’re committed to bringing you more and more gaming experiences in the years ahead.
As part of this commitment to our fans, and the opportunity to leverage the amazing creative talents of the U.K. development community, I’m delighted to welcome our long-term partner Playground Games and their extraordinarily talented team into the Microsoft Studios family.
Ever since Playground Games was established as a studio, they have partnered exclusively with Turn 10 Studios and, together, both teams’ shared vision, strong partnership, and successful collaboration have advanced the Forza franchise to new heights. The Forza racing franchise saw its biggest year yet in 2017, with over 22 million unique fans driving throughout Forza games. We could not have reached this success without Playground Games’ incredible talent, which resulted in 2016’s award-winning, breakout hit, Forza Horizon 3.
Playground Games’ unique, creative vision and passion, together with the power and resources of Microsoft, will see this innovative team take their talents to an all-new level. Playground Games will continue to work on Forza Horizon and they are bringing their open world expertise to an entirely new project we’ll have more to share about later.
With the close bond already established between Playground Games and Turn 10, it made sense for us to keep that connection intact. I will serve as the Studio Head for the Forza franchise, with both Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios reporting to me.
Announced today, Playground Games is currently working on Forza Horizon 4. Forza Horizon 4 features dynamic seasons in the open world, shared across the entire global community. Including new gameplay, weekly challenges, and stunning visuals, seasons change everything. Experience beautiful, historic Britain in spectacular native 4K and HDR, collect over 450 cars and live the Horizon life together. Playground Games’ development on Forza Horizon 4 will not be interrupted and we are committed to the worldwide launch on Xbox One, Windows 10, and Xbox Game Pass on October 2, 2018 as an Xbox Play Anywhere title.
We hope you are as excited about this as we are. We’re inspired by your passion and can’t wait for you to see what is coming next.
We are super excited to announce that we at Ninja Theory have agreed to become a part of Microsoft Studios! What does this mean for you, the Xbox fans? It means that we’ll be super-charged to bring you more games that, like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, will each be unique experiences that are rich in creativity, quality and ambition. In the video above, we’ve shared, in our own words, why we’ve chosen to open this new chapter in the Ninja Theory story
The heritage between Ninja Theory and Xbox is rich, going all the way back to 2000 where our first ever game was Kung Fu Chaos for the original Xbox. Since then, the Xbox community have shown us incredible support – culminating in the release of Hellblade on Xbox One earlier this year. Now our job is to get the gears in motion on new games for Xbox fans. We can’t wait to start sharing with you what we have in mind.