Something spectacular is brewing in the Microsoft company as they are mustering all their considerable influence and resources with a singular goal to gather the finest game developers in their fold. Yesterday those were Playground Games, Undead Labs, Ninja Theory and Compulsion games, today that are modern legends of the CRPG genre Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment, tomorrow…well, who knows? One thing is certain, though: Microsoft’s action plan slowly starts to resemble the plot of the Magnificent Seven movie as they are gathering the best of the best of the game developing world, recruiting both talented individuals and legendary teams under Microsoft’s four-colored banner.
The latest arrival in their flock is none other than talented Drew Murray. Mr. Murray, a game designer of considerable renown, who was previously known for the work he did for Insomniac Games (Resistance: Fall of Men and its sequels, as well as Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, among other things) had recently decided to change his allegiance and join Microsoft, more specifically their The Initiative Studio. Apart from the obvious tendency to acquire as much as possible talented developers and teams, their intention is also to fuse some of them in their brand new “supergroup” studio called The Initiative, which they created from the scratch.
Now, what’s the deal with this new studio and what Microsoft hopes to achieve with it? The Initiative Studios is based in Santa Monica, California and it had been founded just recently, in 2018 with a mission to gather “world-class talent and create groundbreaking new game experiences.” Apparently, the location isn’t just randomly chosen, because, according to the head of The Initiative Studios, Santa Monica is “a hotbed for existing and up-and-coming talent“. After they had failed to deliver on their promised game development ventures such as Fable Legends and Scalebound, Microsoft obviously intends to up its game and seriously dedicate itself to the game development for their Xbox and PC platforms – which is why they’ve been doing all this recruiting in the first place.
The Initiative Studios obviously hold a special position in Microsoft’s plans to conquer the gaming market. The crew from The Initiative claims that they operate as an independent studio, but that they are fully backed by Microsoft, meaning that they have access to all the resources of this company. With all the talented people that they intend to recruit and which are already part of the team, this certainly seems like an ideal combination, at least in theory. In practice…well, it suffices to say that most of us are justifiably mistrustful in big corporations and their good intentions. However, just as in the case of Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment, Microsoft and The Initiative Studios seem to have settled a good arrangement between them.
The head of The Initiative Studios, Darrell Gallagher (who, among other positions, was also the head of Crystal Dynamics responsible for mega-successful Tomb Raider reboot) is apparently very optimistic about the future of The Initiative and the creative liberties they have been given. Gallagher said that under his leadership the studio will strive to create something groundbreaking: “I’ve been given the mandate and the freedom and the support to go do that. It’s almost the best of both worlds, where I get to go build something—I love building things. If you look at my history, it’s building IP, building studios, building teams, building entertainment. I love being able to build. To do that with the support of Xbox and Microsoft behind me, looking for ground-breaking new gaming pillars to work within the future, it’s a great opportunity.”
Admittedly, all this sounds very encouraging. The Initiative seems like a developer which is focused on the future of the gaming industry. As Gallagher remarked: „That’s really the mandate: make something groundbreaking. Innovate. Take those brightest minds in the industry and beyond and say, “What can we do in the future?” We have all this hardware, all these tools, all the creativity.” Well, when you’re called The Initiative, there’s no other way for you than to take the initiative and create something revolutionary which will rock the gaming world. Let’s keep an eye on them and see if they’ll live up to expectations.