Xbox Game Studios: Former Netflix Marcos Waltenberg arrives, The Initiative expands

Xbox Game Studios: Former Netflix Marcos Waltenberg arrives, The Initiative expands

Xbox Game Studios

The Xbox Game Studios expansion plans continue, over the weekend Marcos Waltenberg (former Netflix marketing partner manager) updated his LinkedIn profile announcing that he is now the new director of the Xbox Global Partnerships team.

Marcos' job Waltenberg will be to find new third-party agreements with external developers and publishers with the aim of "changing the vision of gaming on Xbox", in the past Marcos has taken care of the same task for Netflix, bringing to the platform many TV series and films in exclusive.

News also for The Initiative, the studio has hired new professionals including artists, narrative designers, producers, engineers, experts in graphic interfaces and level designers. In particular, names such as Robert Shannon (formerly The Coalition), Kurt Kupser (formerly Naughty Dog) and Joseph Than, producer with experience in Blizzard and Obsidian Entertainment, join the team. Rhonda Cox also recently joined The Initiative after working at Sony Santa Monica as a producer of God of War.

The Initiative announced Perfect Dark in 2020, a highly anticipated title that will bring the character of Joanna Dark, absent since 2005, when Perfect Dark Zero was launched for Xbox 360. We hope to hear more in the next few months.






Xbox Game Studios breakdown: Every game that Microsoft's first-party studios are working on

a group of people posing for a photo: Xbox Game Studios Bethesda © Provided by GamesRadar Xbox Game Studios Bethesda

Microsoft has built quite the collection of first-party studios. Through investment and smart acquisitions, Xbox Game Studios is now a powerhouse in the industry. That's an envious position for Microsoft to be in, given that it spent much of the previous generation cycle combating a misconception that the Xbox One had few exclusive games to offer prospective players.


With the 7.5 billion dollar acquisition of ZeniMax Media confirmed, the total number of studios creating games for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Game Pass under the Xbox Games Studios umbrella has risen from 16 to 24. This means that studios like Bethesda, Arkane, and MachineGames will be working alongside the likes of 343 Industries, Playground, and Rare – sharing knowledge and working together to ensure that Xbox is the best place to play.


The purchase of ZeniMax follows two years of rapid expansion within the Xbox division, with Microsoft acquiring seven studios in the last three years alone, as well as investing in the opening of two new units in The Initiative and World's Edge. It's an exciting time to be a part of the Xbox ecosystem, but what have each of these talented teams delivered in the past and what could they be working to deliver in the future? Let's get into it.

343 Industries

Notable releases: Halo: Master Chief Collection (PC/Xbox One, 2014), Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One, 2015).


Currently working on: Halo Infinite (PC/Xbox Series X, TBC 2021)


Founded in: 2007


343 Industries has stewardship over the Halo franchise. The studio is currently hard at work on Halo Infinite, its third mainline installment to the series. Halo Infinite was supposed to be a launch game for Xbox Series X and Series S, although it was delayed into 2021 to give the team time to get it just right. 

Alpha Dog Games

Notable releases: Wraithborne (iOS, 2012), MonstroCity Rampage (iOS, 2017)


Currently working on: TBC


Acquired in: 2021


Alpha Dog Games is a mobile-focused developer that was actually acquired by Bethesda in late 2019 to support the publisher's growing interest in the iOS and Android market. Given Microsoft's investment in mobile and cloud gaming, it's likely that Alpha Dog will continue working behind the scenes on the initiative.

Arkane Studios

Notable releases: Dishonored (Multi, 2012), Prey (Multi, 2017)


Currently working on: Deathloop (PS5 / Xbox Series X / PC, 21 May 2021)


Acquired in: 2021


Arkane Studios is known for building complex immersive sims, experiences that weave a reactive sense of choice and consequence right through the action. Arkane is currently working on Deathloop, which will launch as a timed-exclusive on PS5 for 21 May 2021, before coming to Xbox Series X and PC later in the year. 

Bethesda Game Studios

Notable releases: Fallout 3 (Multi, 2008), The Elder Scrolls 5: Skrim (Multi, 2011)


Currently working on: Starfield (TBC), The Elder Scrolls 6 (TBC)


Acquired in: 2021


By acquiring Bethesda Game Studios, Microsoft has added one of the most successful and influential outfits in the industry to its arsenal. This is the studio responsible for overseeing the Fallout and The Elder Scrolls franchises, although it also has a brand new IP in the works called Starfield. None of its in-development games currently have release dates or release platforms confirmed. 

Bethesda Softworks

Notable releases: N/A


Currently working on: N/A


Acquired in: 2021


Microsoft didn't just acquire eight development studios, it also brought ZeniMax Media's publishing wing into the fold too. That means that 'Bethesda' as you traditionally know it will continue to exist, with Microsoft allowing it to work semi-autonomously where it will continue to publish the games that are born from its portfolio of partners. 

Compulsion Games

Notable releases: Contrast (Multi, 2013), We Happy Few (Multi, 2018)


Currently working on: TBC


Acquired in: 2018


Compulsion Games has only released two games since its formation in 2009, Contrast and We Happy Few, which are polar opposites in terms or theme and genre, although they are connected by a shared value: an undeniable sense of style. Compulsion Games is yet to reveal what it is working on now.

Double Fine Productions

Notable releases: Psychonauts (PS2/Xbox, 2005), Brutal Legend (PS3/Xbox 360, 2009)


Currently working on: Psychonauts 2 (Multi, 2021)


Acquired in: 2019


Double Fine Productions creates cult-classics. Ever since its formation in 2000, Double Fine has always made games its own way, with an unwavering desire to provide windows into weird and wonderful worlds. It is yet to reveal what it is working on beyond Psychonauts 2, which is set to ship in 2021. 

id Software

Notable releases: Doom (Multi, 2016), Doom Eternal (Multi, 2020) 


Currently working on: TBC


Acquired in: 2020


They don't come more legendary than id Software. This is the studio that essentially created the first-person shooter with Wolfenstein 3D in 1992, Doom in 1993, and Quake in 1996, and is known for having the industry's greatest shotgun. id is yet to reveal what it is working on following the release of Doom Eternal. 

inXile Entertainment

Notable releases: Torment: Tides of Numenera (Multi, 2017), Wasteland 3 (2020, Multi)


Currently working on: TBC


Acquired in: 2018


inXile is a studio with speciality in c-RPGs, founded by Brian Fargo – director of Wasteland and executive producer of the original Fallout. inXile recently shipped Wasteland 3 and is yet to reveal what it is working on next. Rumours persist that the team is building a 'AAA-RPG' for Xbox Series X, but only time will tell. 

MachineGames

Notable releases: Wolfenstein: The New Order (Multi, 2014), Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (Multi, 2017)

Gallery: Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade details Graphics and Performance mode and new effects (GamesRadar)


Currently working on: Indiana Jones


Acquired in: 2021


MachineGames was founded in 2009 by former members of Starbreeze Studios, before being handed the reins to the Wolfenstein series in 2010. The studio made a name for itself with its subversive and tightly-designed first-person shooters. It was recently announced that Bethesda will be collaborating with LucasFilm Games to create a brand new Indiana Jones game, with MachineGames handling development.

Mojang Studios

Notable releases: Minecraft (Multi, 2011), Minecraft Dungeons (Multi, 2020)


Currently working on: Minecraft


Acquired in: 2014


Mojang is the Minecraft company. Acquired by Microsoft in 2014 for 2.5 billion dollars, Mojang has been dutifully updating and evolving Minecraft across all of its supported platforms since. While the studio rarely operates outside of the core Minecraft experience, it did release a family-friendly dungeon-crawler in 2020 called Minecraft Dungeons. 

Ninja Theory

Notable releases: Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (Multi, 2017), Bleeding Edge (PC/Xbox One, 2020)


Currently working on: Senua's Sage: Hellblade 2 (PC/Xbox Series X, TBC), Project: Mara (TBC)


Acquired in: 2018


Ninja Theory built its reputation creating beautiful, detailed action-adventure games like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DmC: Devil May Cry. Since its 2018 acquisition, Ninja Theory has continued to invest in state-of-the-art motion capture as it prepares to deliver a sequel to Hellblade and a brand new IP in Project: Mara. 

Obsidian Entertainment

Notable releases: Pillars of Eternity (PC, 2015),  The Outer Worlds (Multi, 2019)


Currently working on: Grounded (Xbox One, 2020), Avowed (PC/Xbox Series X, TBC)


Acquired in: 2018


Obsidian Entertainment is a legendary developer of RPGs. Whether it's action-heavy, like Fallout: New Vegas and The Outer Worlds, or leaning more heavily into the strategy-side with Pillars of Eternity, the name 'Obsidian' is a mark of quality. The studio currently has Grounded in early-access and is working on an Elder Scrolls-inspired RPG, Avowed.  

Playground Games

Notable releases: Forza Horizon 4 (PC/Xbox One, 2018)  


Currently working on: Fable 4 (Xbox Series X, TBC)


Acquired in: 2018


Playground Games was given the keys to the Forza franchise back in 2010, with Forza Horizon developed in collaboration with series stalwarts Turn 10. Ever since, Playground has consistently delivered open-world racing games that go above and beyond that of the competition. The studio now has a second team dedicated to rebooting a legacy Xbox series, Fable. 

Rare

Notable releases: Viva Pinata (Xbox 360, 2006), Sea of Thieves (PC/Xbox One, 2018)


Currently working on: Everwild (Xbox Series X, TBC)


Acquired in: 2002


Rare is a legendary British studio. So much so, it's difficult to know where to even begin. So let's skip the history lesson and fast-forward to the present. Rare continues to support and update Sea of Thieves, one of the best multiplayer games of the generation, while it works on a brand-new co-operative experience in Everwild. 

Roundhouse Studios

Notable releases: N/A


Currently working on: TBC 


Acquired in: 2021


Roundhouse Studios is an unknown quantity. This is a studio created by Bethesda in 2019, staffed by developers that were with Human Head Studios right to the bitter end. Given that staff has experience in everything from FPS to RPGs, it's impossible to know what it is working on – but whatever it is, it's bound to still be in the very early stages of pre-production. 

Tango Gameworks

Notable releases: The Evil Within (Multi, 2014), The Evil Within 2 (Multi 2017)


Currently working on: Ghostwire: Tokyo (PC/PS5, 2021)


Acquired in: 2021


Tango Gameworks is Shinji Mikami's studio, the famed creator of such classics as Resident Evil and Dino Crisis. Tango's first two releases were confident, terrifying psychological horror games, although the next is a little weirder. Ghostwire: Tokyo is set to arrive in 2021 as a timed-exclusive for PS5 before landing on other platforms in the future. 

The Coalition

Notable releases: Gears of War 4 (PC/Xbox One, 2016), Gears 5 (PC/Xbox One, 2019)


Currently working on: TBC


Founded in: 2010


When Microsoft acquired the rights to Gears of War from Epic Games in 2014, it was handed off to The Coalition. The studio now leads production on the franchise, pushing the scope of the series with each new installment. The Coalition hasn't announced what it's doing next yet, but you can bet it'll be Gears shaped.

The Initiative

Notable releases: N/A


Currently working on: Perfect Dark 


Founded in: 2016


The Initiative is being built from scratch by Xbox Games Studios, headed up by former Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher and packed with staff from BioWare, Naughty Dog, Respawn Entertainment, and others. After years of speculation, we finally know what The Initiative is working on: a Perfect Dark reboot for Xbox Series X. It's been over 15 years since Joanna Dark's Xbox 360 outing, so we're certainly excited to see what The Initiative does with the IP.

Turn 10

Notable releases: Forza Motorsport 7 (PC/Xbox One, 2017)


Currently working on: Forza Motorsport (Xbox Series X, TBC)


Founded in: 2001


Ever since its formation, Turn 10 has been known for its meticulous attention-to-detail, working to create the most realistic and engaging racing sims imaginable. It's currently building a next-generation Forza experience for Xbox Series X, although Microsoft hasn't yet given the game a release window. 

Undead Labs

Notable releases: State of Decay (PC, 2013), State of Decay 2 (PC/Xbox One, 2018)


Currently working on: State of Decay 3 (PC, Xbox Series X)


Acquired in: 2018


Undead Labs has had its sights on delivering the ultimate zombie survival experience ever since its formation. The studio is currently working on State of Decay 3 for Xbox Series X, which will be its first release since it became a first-party Xbox studio in 2018. We expect big things from this one. 

World's Edge

Notable releases: Age of Empires: Definitive Edition (PC, 2019)


Currently working on: Age of Empires 4 (PC, TBC)


Founded in: 2019


While World's Edge isn't directly responsible for making new games, it has been positioned as a caretaker for one of Microsoft's biggest franchises. The studio coordinates development for Age of Empires, working to ensure external studios such as Relic Entertainment and Forgotten Empires are properly aligned. 

Xbox Game Studios Publishing

Notable releases: N/A


Currently working on: N/A


Founded in: 2000


Xbox Game Studios Publishing is an internal group within the Xbox Game Studios group that supports both external developers and those under the wider first-party group. The Global Publishing team works to bring titles like Sunset Overdrive and Crackdown 3 to life, and more recently worked with partners like Dontnod to bring Tell Me Why to the platform. 

ZeniMax Online Studios

Notable releases: The Elder Scrolls Online (Multi, 2014), Fallout 76 (Multi, 2018)


Currently working on: N/A


Acquired in: 2021


ZeniMax Online Studios is responsible for creating and overseeing Bethesda's online-focused games, such as The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76. It isn't thought that the studio has anything new in the works, although it will continue to support and grow these games long into the future.  


Extended Reading: What the Xbox acquisition of ZeniMax could mean for games like The Elder Scrolls 6, Starfield, and Deathloop?

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