After a long and drawn out courtship between the two companies, Microsoft Studios, in an attempt to strengthen their innovative game and entertainment brand, has finally tied the knot and said its vows with Austin, Texas-based game developer Twisted Pixel. Twisted Pixel is responsible for several fan-favorite Xbox LIVE Arcade titles such as ‘Splosion Man and the more recent Kinect title, The Gunstringer.
Twisted Pixel was founded in 2006 as an independent studio that developed award winning Xbox LIVE Arcade titles. They will now bring their talented development team to Microsoft Studios in order to create and develop future entertainment offerings for the Xbox 360 platform – as well as future Microsoft consoles.
Acquisitions of small developers made by giant corporations can give pause to the most skeptical cynic, but Matt Booty, speaking with Joystiq, said he wants Twisted Pixel’s scrappy, do-it-yourself character preserved after the acquisition:
“Microsoft’s a very big company, and you’ve got Twisted Pixel, a relatively smaller developer. We’re very invested that they get to stay who they are, and they get to retain the magic they’ve got as a smaller indie developer. We’d like to leave the golden goose alone, so to speak.”
Phil Spencer, corporate Vice President of Microsoft Studios, praised Twisted Pixel’s track record:
“Twisted Pixel has an incredible track record of innovative, critically acclaimed, and most importantly, fun, games. Microsoft Studios is home to cutting-edge entertainment experiences, and the incredible creativity of the Twisted Pixel team will help drive further innovation around Kinect and Xbox LIVE.”
Michael Wilford, co-founder and CEO of Twisted Pixel, offered his stamp of approval of the union between the two companies as well:
“It is really exciting for us to solidify our long-standing relationship with Microsoft Studios, who we consider to be the leader in digital distribution and creating new innovations in gaming like Xbox LIVE and Kinect. As part of the family of Microsoft Studios we look forward to bringing even bigger and richer experiences to Xbox and Twisted Pixel fans around the world.”
Twist Pixel now becomes the largest member of Microsoft Studio’s globally-recognized game developers, joining the esteemed ranks of Lionhead Studios (Fable 3) and Rare Ldt. The team’s charter is to create exclusive gaming experiences that offer different experiences when compared to the various Microsoft platforms.
Acquisitions are not always smooth, but Spencer acknowledged some of Microsoft Studio’s past shortcomings and said the company learned from those mistakes when forging the union with Twisted Pixel:
“I lived through the integration of FASA, through Bungie, the integration of Digital Anvil,” Spencer said. “I can go through the list of studios we’ve worked with. I can honestly say we’ve become better at working with partners and keeping them what they are. In the beginning, it was ‘everybody’s got to move to Redmond, kind of integrate completely into the Microsoft process,’ and that doesn’t always work for every culture. I think you have to keep to the core of ‘What is this partnership about?’”
Wilford also confirmed that the Twisted Pixel studio would not relocate – as Microsoft Studios is taking more of a hands-off approach to the purchase. They will be given more room to breathe, with Wilford acknowledging that Pixel’s team is best suited for XBLA development.
Clearly the two companies have been working towards this point – so the acquisition is hardly a surprise. Gamers who appreciate and admire the unique nature of Twisted Pixel’s distinctive, and fresh, take on developing titles should have their concerns somewhat put to rest with Microsoft Studio’s commitment of a new “hands-off approach.” Considering the size of Twisted Pixel, in comparison to other Microsoft acquisitions (others who are still developing titles), gamers should have little to fear.
Do you think the Twisted Pixel acquisition is a good thing? What types of games would you like to see the developer work on – now that it has Microsoft’s backing?
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