While in Italy we are struggling to recover a tens of billions of € from no one knows where to stem the massive rise in the energy sector, Microsoft is ready to buy Activision-Blizzard shares for 68.7 billion dollars, merging them with the army of the Xbox Game Studios. The agreement has been signed and will now have to go through all the procedures to be approved and finalized within a year.
With a few bold takeover moves, in full American turbo-capitalist mega-corporation style, Microsoft now finds itself with a substantial amount of studies. The infamous fan "sometimes taken for insider" Xbox Klobrille has created this infographic which summarizes the organization chart expected by June 2023 quite well. Studies, technologies, IP and personnel. I would say that it may be worth doing a quick rundown on the talents that Microsoft has equipped itself with and that over the years will churn out games for the platform of the Redmond house.
Xbox Game Studios
Under the Xbox Game Studios label we find teams that have either been formed through the acquisition of talents or single purchases, not buying an entire group then. There are both veterans and newcomers in here.
Studio formed in 2007 with home base in Microsoft's Redmond itself, owes its name to the ball robot present in the first game of the Halo series, and in fact their task is to take care of the franchise after Bungie's departure from the ranks of Microsoft studios. After several more or less successful attempts, it seems to have found a new balance with Halo Infinite, despite the troubled development.
Born as an independent studio by former Arkane Guillaume Provost in 2009 in Saint-Henri, Canada, it rose to fame after the somewhat bizarre trailers of We Happy Few, even if the game was quite different from what could be expected from the announcements. In 2018 the studio was bought by Microsoft. Probably to add a voice with a rather unique and singular style, giving them the technical and economic support necessary to give them the right voice.
Double Fine Productions
Historical studio founded in 2000 by Tim Schafer. Their home is in San Francisco, California. Made up of pieces from LucasArts, their enormous strength in the graphic adventure genre led the studio to experiment a lot to find fortune leading to things like Brutal Legend, a Metal-based real-time action-strategy hybrid. Perhaps their biggest exploit in recent gaming history was to clear Kickstarer as a platform to finance independent games, with the success of Broken Age, which raised more than $ 3 million. He joined Microsoft in 2019, very surprisingly as they were among the studios proud to go a little on their own. Their masterpiece is, or rather they are, Psychonauts and Psychonauts 2. If you are someone who believes that Sony studios write deep, mature and human stuff, take a look at these two titles. They are excellent storytellers. And speaking of writers ...
Founded in 2002 in Tustin, California, and entered the Microsoft world in 2018, inXile is one of those software houses born after the destruction of the past. Legendary Interplay (Fallout) co-founder Brian Fargo founded inXile to continue his production of fantasy RPGs. It was not a major financial house, producing The Bard's Tale saga and other minor things for mobile phones. Using Kickstarter, they brought the Wasteland and Torment series back to life. They have always worked on low-budget projects and now having the resources of Microsoft can lead to more complex projects.
Another Californian house, this time based in Irvine, and of a similar vintage to inXile, having been born in 2003. It is the other side of the coin, literally. Interplay had a division, called Black Isle Studios, famous for giving birth to Planescape Torment among the various titles. If inXile was born from Interplay, Obsidian was born from Black Isle, from the minds of Feargus Urquhart, Chris Avellone in which his colleague Josh Sawyer also merged. The history of Obsidian has always been represented by unfinished masterpieces. Whether for resources, lack of technical expertise, lack of time, but many of their jobs arrived with numerous cuts on the market. From Knights of the Old Republic II, Neverwinter Nights 2, Alpha Protocol and Fallout New Vegas. The only constant is a much above average writing. And if you complain that modern games don't treat your choices with respect, check out Alpha Protocol.
Obsidian also found content on Kickstarter and in minor projects, helping the rebirth of CRPGs with Pillars of Eternity, Tiranny and creating Outer Worlds.
Under Microsoft since 2018, they're trying to bring the Pillars setting with Awowed to the world of first-person RPGs.
Miracle born from the brilliant intuition of a single Swedish man. No, we are not talking about Ikea, but about Markus Persson aka Notch and his Minecraft. From 2009 it was a road made of global success and in 2014 Microsoft welcomed having such a powerful IP in its clutches. Considering it's featured in Super Smash Bros, I'd say Microsoft has seen it for a long time. The studio ultimately manages the brand and all related products. Here, too, we have seen the evolution of a developer go from independent to corporate.
Ninja Theory Limited
Born from the minds of Tameem Antoniades, Nina Kristensen and Mike Ball in 2000 in Cambridge in the United Kingdom, Ninja Theory launched into singular projects and we can say of high importance, however, going up against several initial difficulties. Under the name of Just Add Monsters they released Kung Fu Chaos for the original Xbox. After a possible bankruptcy, they found a port in Sony's home, producing Heavenly Sword for them. Things didn't go very well and they broke up with Sony in a bad way. Going through an Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and a very peculiar reboot of Devil May Cry, they seemed to find their artistic dimension with Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. The team has always made use of real-time action combat, combined with a relatively high technical expertise with a strong aesthetic identity. Hellblade is a complete sensory experience as well as a video game. Joining Microsoft in 2018, she should continue to work on sought-after titles, having fewer technological bottlenecks than before.
PlayGround Games + Turn 10
I can't separate these two programming studies. The first is from Lemigton, England, the second in Redmond. The second is an existing veteran since 2001, the first a newcomer with 12 years of history. But they both work on the Forza franchise. If Turn 10 deals with the graphics engine and the competitive Motorsport game, Playground manages the Horizon, the most caciaroni open world playgrounds. Playground will also have to take care of the new Fable.
Straight from Twycross in England, founded in 1985 and stolen by Nintendo in 2002, Rare has had a very tangled history. Under the direction of Nintendo, he produced many iconic games from the golden years. Killer Instinct, Donkey Kong COuntry, Banjo-Kazooie, Battletoads, Goldeneye 007, Perfect Dark and many others. Then the magic began to stop. In 2002 it was bought by Microsoft and produced let's just say crap or at least mediocre products. He produced Kinect Sports. Now it seems to have found some sort of revenge, with Sea of Thieves, but has yet to find an output worthy of the past.
From Vancouver in Canada, in 2010 the need arose to have a studio to deal with an IP left to Microsoft by the original creators. With a role similar to that given to 343 Industries. But if the latter were to replace Bungie, The Coalition was to replace Epic Games. A much easier job, but not without difficulties. With three Gears under his belt (4, 5 e Tactics) in my opinion are on the right track, even if the franchise no longer has the grip it used to be.
In 2009 Jeff Strain founded Undead Labs in Seattle and the name couldn't be more eloquent. His two active games are State of Decay and State of Decay 2. Zombie Survival. And they're developing 3. They were acquired by Microsoft in 2018. A mono-franchise studio for now and doesn't seem willing to vary.
The Initiative is the super team. The Avengers. Based in Santa Monica, California, it has been able to draw on a lot of seasoned, experienced developers. Its aim is to be a direct competitor of Sony's Santa Monica studio. The team is led by Daniel Neuburger, director of the Ultimate Tomb Raider and finds within it the writer of Red Dead Redempion 2 and the executive producer of the reboot of God of War. In addition to them, many of the recruits come from every top-tier studio on the planet. Their first project will be a reboot of Perfect Dark. IP of the Rare, but therefore entrusted to the superteam. They must demonstrate that they can work together. Perfect Dark as IP gives them a very high chance of flexing their muscles, but you'll have to see how much of the original Nintendo 64 concept will remain.
Summing up, the internal direct studies are divided between studies dedicated to the franchises, indies with colorful abilities, the 3 best storytellers in the realm and a super team that has yet to prove its ability.
Based in Rockville, Maryland, vintage 1986, founded by Christopher Weaver as a division of Media Technology, it then became a subsidiary of ZeniMax Media in 1999. Over the years it developed and released its games, until in 2001 it decided to split the role. of publishers and developers, for organizational matters. Since 2021, it has joined the Microsoft family for $ 7,5 billion. Over the years, Bethesda Softworks acquired numerous companies and became a group of developers in turn. We all know her for Skyrim.
Bethesda Game Studios
The story of Bethesda Softworks is tied to that of The Elder Scrolls franchise. This first-person RPG franchise, which sends the player into a vast world to be explored, with numerous quests and a generous freedom of action thanks to increasingly complex implementations of open interactable systems and thanks to the immense support for mods. From this study the elusive figure of Todd Howard emerged, after he became the project leader of Morrowind. Bethesda Softworks also took over the Fallout franchise, which she continued alongside TES. Curious how Microsoft now also has InXile and Obsidian, the creator of the original Fallout and the second developer who worked on the franchise, within it. By now we are out of Skyrim memes sold EVERYWHERE
The Texans of Id Software have been in the race since 1991, founded by legends, now a bit ancient. John Carmack, John Romero, Tom Hall and Adrian Carmack. The technological push that Id gave to PC gaming was something extraordinary at the time and they are considered the creators of first person shooters. Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake. If there was a gun to shoot, they were there. If technology was to be pushed, they were there. By the time many of the founders left and the house made somewhat questionable decisions during the Rage period, with Carmack making a couple of blunders about where to take technological advancement and the relationship between console and PC development spaces. . After joining Bethesda in 2009, under the new creative director Hugo Martin since 2013, the house has found all its mojo with Doom 206 and Doom Eternal, also showing one of the most advanced engines on the market.
Hey but there's Japan in my American super corporation! Here we have people of a certain level, as we are talking about a studio founded by Shinji Mikami, the man behind Resident Evil. Based in Tokyo and in business since 2010, they have two games under their belt. The Evil Within and its sequel. Arriving Ghostwire tokyo. They are the experts of horror games, with the oriental flavor behind the production.
Swedes from Uppsala, active since 2009 and with the desire to blow up Nazis. Formed by veterans of Starbreeze, they tried unsuccessfully to propose ideas to publishers and then came to accept a job on commission: to take the hand of Bethesda's Wolfenstein franchise and give it shape, revitalizing it. Never was a marriage more appropriate, giving life to that wonder that were New Order and New Colossus, with spin offs a little less successful, but still nice.
French studio, based in Lyon (and with a second studio in Texas in Austin), standing since 1999 as deserters from EA France. Born with the love for System Shock, they began to revive the so-called "looking glass games" this sort of first-person action-stealth-rpg-simulator. Their beginnings were on Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic which integrated many stylistic influences of the Looking Glass, eventually becoming consecrated after the union with Bethesda, creating the universe of Dishonored and spitting out that marvel of Prey. Their games are not mass, for many, but in the modern environment they are unique that allow Arkane to stand out a lot both for style and design choices.
Zenimax Online Studios
In Zenimax they thought it best to build a studio in 2007, in the Hunt Valley of Maryland, to devote themselves to the development of online games. Their product arrived in 2014, as The Elder Scrolls Online. Still supported and maintained today. Over time they have carried out support actions to the other studios, helping with Fallout 76 and Doom.
Newly formed team, born in 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin, but formed by veterans, as they are developers transshipped from the defunct Human Head Studios. They have yet to produce something under this new name, but they have several quite famous works behind them. In addition to the first Prey, the one from 2006, the rest became famous for the wrong reasons. They are the work behind Brink, Defiance and The Quiet Man. So yeah, not really the best, but the potential is there.
Alpha Dog Games
Canadian studio in Halifax, born in 2012. They focus on mobile development. They only developed three games: Wrathborne, MonstroCity: Rampage, and Migthy DOOM. There are just a dozen of them. They could benefit from an expansion or joining to mobile divisions of other groups.
With this move, Microsoft has practically taken the giants of Western first-person RPGs, expert houses of high-level shooter games and Immersive Sim games. Technologically, the usual dichotomy coexists, with Id's products that are at the forefront of total technology, and those of Bethesda Game Studios that are gruyere made of bugs.
The acquisition of Activision Blizzard it will end perhaps within a year, if all goes well. 68.7 Billion for a lot of franchises, IPs and personnel.
Blizzard Entertainment Inc.
Mamma Blizzard. Born in 1991, with the headquarters in Irvine, California. Undisputed symbol of PC gaming. With a policy of "comes out when it's ready", in the past years it has accustomed its fans with high quality products and has consecrated entire genres, such as real-time strategy, MMOs and hack'n'slash RPGs and is was champion in the short-term success of the Hero Shooters before the Battle Royale overbearing them replaced them. Today many of the historical staff have left their posts and the company has lost much of its polish, both in terms of quality and contact with the public. When also Carbot Animation moves to Final Fantasy XIV, it's over. Who knows that the new management will not be able to restore the right direction to the company productively. Humanly we know that the change must take place throughout Activision-Blizzard.
The creators of the Call of Duty shooter phenomenon. They were born in 2002 in Woodland Hills, California to Vince Zampella, Grant Collier and Jason West. All the original members worked on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault in the 2015 studio, Inc. Activision quickly joined the company, bought 30% and financed their first project. Which became like the only one. The company produced ONLY call of Duty. Vince Zampella left in 2010 for "insubordination and breach of contracts", later giving birth to Titanfall with his new company Respawn. In 2014 Neversoft was merged with Infinity Ward. The Call of Duty machine is so immense that Activision went so far as to use three teams in rotation and in collaboration, to pull out a CoD each year.
The number two team for Call of Duty, but historically older. Founded in 1996, in the promised land of Santa Monica, California. Until 2005 he produced a myriad of video games. Sports stuff, lots of Spider-Man games and a few cinematic tie-ins. Then in 2005 he began producing the Call of Duty "spin offs", starting with Big Red One, the console version of CoD 2, arriving on Call of Duty 3 and then completely switching to the franchise from 2008. Famous for their Black Ops sub-series and Zombie mode.
Sledge Hammer Games
Studio born in Foster City, California in 2009 by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey, former Visceral and masterminds behind the creation of Dead Space. Their idea was to try to repeat the success of Dead Space at Activision, working on a third-person shooter. Unfortunately for them, it all went to cow. The exit of Zampella threw the plans and it was necessary to go out with a game in good time. The result was to take SledgeHammer and launch them on CoD, as they hadn't produced their game yet. So it all went to hell and they became the third CoD team.
Raven Software was born in 1990 in Wisconsin in Middleton. They were discovered by John Romero and collaborated to make games with Id's graphics engine. Battle developer group. ShadowCaster, Heretic, Hexen, Soldier of Fortune, Star Wars Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy, X-Men Legends, Quake 4, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, 2009 Wolfenstein, Singularity. Until 2010 they continued to churn out good quality games, many of which entered the hearts of many fans of their respective franchises. Then from 2012, they were thrown into the meat grinder that was CoD, often supporting other studies, even bickering to get to have a finished product. We hope now they can escape this curse.
Toys for bob
Founded even in 1989, in Novato in California. In the 90s they created the legendary Star Control. Then they played a little random games and then pulled the Skylanders out of the hat in 2011. In 2018 they took care of the Spyro remasters, as opposed to the development of the N 'Sane Trilogy by the now deceased Vicarious Visions. And then yes, they also helped out on CoD Warzone. MANNAGGIA ACTIVISION JUST MAKE EVERYONE DO COD.
High Moon Studio
He was born in 2001, in Carlsbad, California, under the name of Sammy Entertainment. It was independent for only a year, being taken over by Vivendi and placed under the management of Sierra. They worked on the Trasformers games, they did the Deadpool game, and then of course they worked on CoD, but also Destiny.
Canadian house from Quebec City, founded in 2000. Lived its life as a home for porting between platforms. They worked on many tie titles in motion pictures. They are a technical support team, so yes, they have also worked on all recent CoDs.
Company founded in Malta by the Italian entrepreneur Riccardo Zacconi in 2003. In 2012 he baked Candy Crush Saga. From that moment on he started to grind endless money. Roll credits.
A nice feast of talents but above all of IP. Do you know that Sierra ended up in the middle of Vivendi and then in Activision-Blizzard? May this say that NO ONE LIVES FOREVER COULD COME BACK? Who knows.
I can only close with this image.