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Here's what each Microsoft game studio is working on

Microsoft has snapped up six developers in the past year, including inXile Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment, both of which have rich histories in PC gaming. Phil Spencer, head of gaming at Microsoft, has told PC Gamer that the company’s main role will be giving the studios "tools, talent and resources," and the developers themselves have told fans that Microsoft will not dictate the types of games they make. 

It's too early to know how these developers may change under the new Xbox Game Studios umbrella. For now, with more cash behind them, we’re looking forward to seeing what all of Microsoft's new studios will come up with next, as its other studios such as Mojang and 343 continue to work on the big franchises. What exactly are newcomers like Ninja Theory and Compulsion Games working on? Here's what we know for sure, and what we've been able to suss out.

Obsidian Entertainment

Date founded: June 2003
Approximate size: 150-200 employees
When was it acquired? November 2018

What games has it made? 

Obsidian's most recent game was RPG Pillars of Eternity 2. It’s also the studio behind Fallout: New Vegas, Tyranny, Alpha Protocol, and Neverwinter Nights 2. Its founders, including Feargus Urquhart and Chris Avellone, previously worked at Black Isle Studios, developer of Planescape: Torment and Fallout 2.

What’s Obsidian working on now?

The Outer Worlds, a first-person RPG that’s being led by Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain, who created the original Fallout in the 90s. It’s the pair’s first game together for ages, and one of our most anticipated games of 2019. It doesn’t yet have an exact release date in 2019, but a recent SteamDB leak suggested it will be out in August. Notably, The Outer Worlds is being published by Take Two, as it's been in development since before the Microsoft acquisition.

As of February 2019 Obsidian is also actively patching and updating Pillars of Eternity 2, and its last DLC pack was released in December. The Pillars of Eternity dev team are likely working on a new project that could be its first published by Microsoft.

InXile Entertainment

Date founded: October 2002
Approximate size: 85 employees
When was it acquired? November 2018

What games has it made?

In the past two years, InXile has released dungeon crawler The Bard’s Tale 4: Barrow’s Deep, VR spin-off The Mage’s Tale, and RPG Torment: Tides of Numenera. It’s also the developer of 2014’s Wasteland 2, the follow-up to 1988 RPG Wasteland. The original was directed by Brian Fargo, InXile’s CEO.

What’s InXile working on now?

InXile's big project is Wasteland 3, which is due out in "late 2019". It’s an isometric, squad-based RPG with tactical combat, set in a post-apocalyptic Colorado. The story is a direct sequel to Wasteland 2.

Additionally, InXile has been working on The Bard's Tale 4 since its release in September 2018, releasing numerous post-release patches. InXile announced plans for a majorly updated Director's Cut release in June 2019. 

Ninja Theory

Date founded: March 2000
Approximate size: 100 people
When was it acquired? June 2018

What games has it made?

Ninja Theory's most recent game was Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, the moody hack-and-slash that explored mental illness. Its previous games include DmC: Devil May Cry and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

What’s Ninja Theory working on now?

We don’t know for sure—before the acquisition, chief creative director Tameem Antoniades told Samuel that Ninja Theory was "working on a mix of projects of different sizes and different themes," including some VR games. He said that Hellblade’s tone didn’t necessarily mean the studio’s next game would explore another serious subject: Other members of the team were working on "more fun, traditional games." For his part, Antoniades said he was keen to make a game about a "personal hero journey," citing PS2’s Ico as a comparison. 

In November, Phil Spencer hinted that an announcement on Ninja Theory’s next game would come at some point in 2019. "It’s really fun to not only see what Ninja Theory has done in the past, but to look forward to next year and things that might come," he said at the time.

Playground Games

Date founded: Early 2010
Approximate size:
400 employees
When was it acquired? June 2018

What games has it made?

Playground is the studio behind the Forza Horizon series. The latest entry, Forza Horizon 4, was a damn good open world racer.

What’s Playground Games working on now?

A new Fable game is what's rumored. In 2017 Playground announced that it wanted to "test [itself] in a different genre," and the company opened an office last year to work on a new game. It was later rumoured that this would be an open-world RPG, which was followed by a report from Eurogamer that said a 200-strong team at the office would work on a new Fable game—a franchise that Microsoft owns. 

Microsoft’s acquisition of the studio happened after that report, which certainly lends credence to the idea that a new Fable game is in the works. Microsoft oversaw the creation of various Fable games in the 2000s and 2010s at Lionhead Studios, another developer that it owned. Lionhead closed in 2016.

In addition to a Fable game—if that is indeed what Playground is working on—we’d bet it also has another Forza Horizon in the pipeline.

Compulsion Games

Date founded: 2009
Approximate size:
40-50 employees
When was it acquired? June 2018

What games has it made?

We Happy Few, a very average open-world stealth game, and 2013 puzzle-platformer Contrast.

What’s Compulsion Games working on now?

Compulsion is still working on DLC for We Happy Few, including a free sandbox mode and three mini stories. It hasn’t announced its next game yet, or even hinted at what it’s cooking up.

Undead Labs

Date founded: November 2009
Approximate size: 60 employees
When was it acquired? June 2018

What games has it made?

Only two so far: zombie survival horror State of Decay and its sequel, State of Decay 2, which was solid.

What’s Undead Labs working on now?

State of Decay 3—although we don’t yet know when it’ll be releasing. Head of Xbox Games Studios Matt Booty said last year that "the studio will have some other incubation, they’ll work on some things, but this is a State of Decay 3 team."

The Initiative

Date founded: 2018
Approximate size: Unknown
When was it acquired? Microsoft announced it was founding a new studio, The Initiative, at the same time it acquired several of the above studios last year.

What games has it made?

None so far, as the studio was just founded. Studio head Darrell Gallagher formerly helmed Crystal Dynamics, the studio behind the Tomb Raider series.

What's The Initiative working on now?

No idea. A game may not even be in development yet. In an interview with Venturebeat last year, Gallagher said: "My focus is one of opportunity and trying to make something ground-breaking. I’ve been given the mandate and the freedom and the support to go do that."

Mojang

Date founded: 2009
Approximate size: 75 employees
When was it acquired? 2014

What games has it made?

Minecraft, Caller's Bane (Scrolls), Crown and Council. But mostly Minecraft.

What's Mojang working on now?

Alongside Minecraft's perpetual development, Mojang is also working on a spin-off called Minecraft Dungeons. The dungeon crawler was announced at Minecon 2018 and should be out sometime in 2019. It's four player co-op game with loot and, as expected, lots of blocks.

Rare

Date founded: 1985
Approximate size: 100-200 employees
When was it acquired? 2002

What games has it made?

Too many to list, but most famously Donkey Kong Country, Goldeneye, Banjo Kazooie, and Perfect Dark. Its most recent big project is Sea of Thieves.

What's Rare working on now?

Sea of Thieves released in March 2018 and is still being updated, though we don't know how many of Rare's developers are working on the game.

A trailer at E3 2018 also teased that Rare is working on a new Battletoads game, along with DLaLa Studios.

343 Industries

Date founded: 2007
Approximate size: 400-500 employees
When was it acquired? 343 was founded by Microsoft to take charge of the Halo series.

What games has it made?

343 Industries developed Halo 4 and Halo 5, and remasters Halo Anniversary and The Master Chief Collection in collaboration with outside developers. It also collaborated with Creative Assembly on Halo Wars 2, and other developers on Halo mobile spin-offs.

What's 343 Industries working on now?

The big one is Halo Infinite, the sequel to 2015's Halo 5: Guardians. Microsoft has shown little of the game, only revealing it in the form of an engine demo at E3 2018. We do know that Master Chief is back. Recent rumors suggest it will include more RPG elements than past Halos, and also be a launch game for new Xbox hardware in late 2020. We also know that it will be coming to PC.

343 is also continuously working on Halo: The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One. While rumors have popped up many times over the years that Master Chief Collection will come to PC, there's still no sign of that happening.

The Coalition

Date founded: February 2010
Approximate size: 250+ employees
When was it acquired? Founded by Microsoft as Zipline Studios, eventually renamed The Coalition.

What games has it made?

Under the name The Coalition, the studio has developed Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Gears of War 4 for the Xbox One and Windows.

What's The Coalition working on now?

Gears 5, which looks to be a significant departure from the series formula. An early trailer placed a greater emphasis on exploration than past Gears games.

Also in the works: Gears Tactics, a turn-based strategy game.

Turn 10 Studios

Date founded: 2001
Approximate size: 200-400 employees
What was it acquired? Founded by Microsoft

What games has it made?

Turn 10 was established to make the Forza series, and that's what it's done, most recently releasing Forza Motorsport 7 in 2017, and collaborating with Playground Games on the Horizon series.

What's Turn 10 working on now?

Forza Motorsport 8 hasn't been announced yet, but it's a safe bet that it's coming. Since the release of Forza 7 in late 2017, Turn 10 has been updating the game, adding car packs. Its final paid DLC came out in January 2019.