Xbox Game Studios breakdown – everything you need to know about all of the studios Microsoft owns

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Xbox Game Studios is now the largest collection of first-party studios in the video game industry. It’s an enviable position to be in for Microsoft, particularly after so many years of combating the misconception that the Xbox has no games to offer prospective players. With the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S set to launch November 10 with full Xbox Game Pass Ultimate support from day one, it puts the next-generation consoles in a new standing ahead of the Xbox Series X pre-orders going live. 

This has all been made possible by the acquisition of ZeniMax Media, a company comprising eight development studios and a publishing wing. That deal was worth $7.5 billion, and it brought the total number of outfits collecting under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella from 16 to 24. The purchase of ZeniMax follows two years of rapid expansion within the Xbox division, with Microsoft acquiring seven studios in the last two 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? 



343 Industries

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

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

(Image credit: Bethesda)

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

Currently working on: TBC

Acquired in: 2020

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

(Image credit: Arkane)

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

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

Acquired in: 2020

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 in early 2021 before coming to Xbox Series X and PC later in the year. 

Bethesda Game Studios

(Image credit: Bethesda)

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: 2020

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. 

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Bethesda Softworks

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Notable releases: N/A

Currently working on: N/A

Acquired in: 2020

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

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

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

(Image credit: Double Fine)

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

(Image credit: Bethesda)

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

(Image credit: 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

(Image credit: Bethesda)

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

Currently working on: TBC

Acquired in: 2020

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. That’s likely to continue under Microsoft, although the studio is yet to reveal what its next project will be.  

Mojang Studios

(Image credit: Mojang)

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. 

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Ninja Theory

(Image credit: 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

(Image credit: Obsidian/Xbox Game Studios)

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

(Image credit: 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

(Image credit: 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

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Notable releases: N/A

Currently working on: TBC 

Acquired in: 2020

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

(Image credit: PlayStation)

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

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

Acquired in: 2020

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

(Image credit: Microsoft Studios)

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.

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The Initiative

(Image credit: The Initiative)

Notable releases: N/A

Currently working on: TBC

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. We don’t know what The Initiative is up to; it remains one of Xbox’s best kept, and most tantalising secrets. 

Turn 10

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

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

(Image credit: 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

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

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

(Image credit: Insomniac)

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

(Image credit: ZeniMax Media)

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

Currently working on: N/A

Acquired in: 2020

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?

Content courtesy of GamesRadar.com published on , original article here.

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