During its E3 conference, Microsoft announced that it has either newly created or acquired a total of five studios that will be working on first-party titles for Xbox. Xbox head Phil Spencer took to the stage to walk through the portfolio of studios that are now under Xbox's banner.
First, he announced the creation of a brand new studio called The Initiative. Although Spencer did not reveal what exactly this Santa Monica-based studio is working on, he did say that The Initiative is led by Darrell Gallagher. Gallagher was a previously the studio head at Crystal Dynamics working on the Tomb Raider series as well as a senior vice president at Activision for the Call of Duty franchise.
Next, in a not-so-surprising acquisition, Spencer announced that Undead Labs, makers of State of Decay have been purchased by Microsoft. State of Decay and the recently-released State of Decay 2 have been exclusives for Xbox, so it seems a perfect fit for the studio to officially fall under Microsoft's first-party lineup of developers.
Another unsurprising acquisition includes Playground Games, makers of Xbox's exclusive Forza Horizon series. Spencer said that not only will the developer continue to work on the Forza Horizon franchise, but it will also "bring its open-world expertise to a brand-new project." If rumors are correct, that other game could be a full-fledged Fable game.
In what seems like the biggest get for Microsoft, Ninja Theory also joins the roster of first-party studios. Especially so since most recently, Ninja Theory made Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, which went on to win numerous awards in 2017 and garner high praise from gamers and critics alike. Interestingly, Ninja Theory created PlayStation-exclusive Heavenly Sword back for the PlayStation 3, but the developer will now be developing exclusively for Xbox.
Lastly, Compulsion Games, which will release We Happy Few in August of this year, joins Microsoft as the fifth game studio to round out the list.
This is a big move from Microsoft, which has been often criticized for its lack of focus on delivering a strong first-party lineup. If all goes right, these acquisitions should fill out Microsoft's sparse lineup of Xbox exclusives and strengthen its competition against Sony's strong roster of console exclusives.