Leap Experience Pioneers (LXP), Platform Next Studios and Launchworks – Microsoft’s secret studios?

Sorry for the horrendous formatting in advance and thanks to everyone who has given me information and helped me make this post

Recently a trademark was found for LXP – Leap Experience Pioneers with a cool logo that originally thought to be related to a game however further investigation shows that LXP are actually a development studio at Microsoft that seems to have beaverd away at something for Microsoft for a while.

There were job listings for Leap back in 2012 but nothing more was known. With Microsoft adding a slew of new studios to their internal development teams – Black Tusk (Formerly Microsoft Vancouver), Lift London, Microsoft Victoria (shutdown in December 2013), Xbox Entertainment LA and Team Dakota many forgot about the job listings but it seems they have resurfaced.

Phil Spencer recently mentioned on twitter to me that they have a couple of unannounced studios and I did press about LXP being one of them and if they are making smaller titles or AAA projects but he didn’t reply – probably thought he had told me too much already.Phil Spencer tweetPlatform Next was another studio that was mentioned a while back but like Leap went MIA and it was presumed they either disappeared or were folded into another studio.

Scouting using Linkedin Profiles (bullet points will be taken from top to bottom of the pictures below) via NeoGaf and my friend Doffen via twitter as well as my own research the following information on LXP has been found:

Leap Experience Pioneers (LXP) are an in-house games developer for Microsoft based in the US. Although they had been in existence for some years they thought it was the right time to define their identity. Something that all parts of their business could relate to, but more importantly, be inspired by. They considered themselves pioneers (as their name suggests) and wanted to encapsulate the spirit of fronteering Americans – combining a cowboy with an astronaut with attitude. We then set about creating some short animated logo stings and brand guideline document. (Territory Studio via NeoGaf)

LXP

  • Worked on 2 projects: First one was Kinect, the second is unannounced, recruited internally from Turn10
  • 30+ members on the team
  • Incubating new IP
  • Science fiction related
  • Ex-Turn10 staff member
  • Lead artist – Ex Good Science Studio member
  • Studio has been around for over 3 years
  • Using (or used) Unreal Engine 3
  • Worked on Kinect Adventures (Good Science Studio title)
  • Further confirmation they’ve been around for 3+ years
  • Audio lead – another ex-Good Science Studio member
  • “Entertainment incubation team”
  • Lead FX Artist – Project Natal/Kinect, Kinect Funlabs, Kinect Star Wars
  • Lead VFX in Microsoft publishing arm Kudo ORG

Nick Fajt - Senior Program ManagerRon Amador - Lead Artist LXP

Brian Mount - LXP UE3Adam Smith Kipnis - Audio Lead LXPJamie Kirchenbaum

 Kudo Tsunoda has been mysteriously inactive for the Xbox One launch despite his prominent role in the original Kinect and the V2 device being included in every console which I find rather odd. His Linkedin in says he is still at Microsoft as a Corporate Vice President so what is he working on? I suppose its possible he might be working on any sort of VR or AR technology they’re developing and as it’s not ready to show could be why he’s still quiet on his side but the last pictures from somebody working for LXP in the Greater Seattle Area refers to Kudo ORG which doesn’t any clearer in the relation to the rest of the information.

To add to that, Halo 4’s Executive Producer Kiki Wolfkill can be seen in an LXP t-shirt on her instagram (Via Bosjbug on twitter). Back in early January 343i did a blog post about happenings at the studio, and said this about Kiki:

But what about Kiki, our EP from Halo 4? Our intrepid Wolfkiller is right here, developing exciting new stories, experiences and technologies that will transform the way that you experience Halo. She will have more to share at a later date, but I can promise that what she is working on is really cool.

The plot thickens, her Linkedin profile does say she is still with 343i though and that clearly says she is still working on Halo, so perhaps sharing some tech or a collaboration between studios? It would seem like E3 is a good place to unveil some of the mystery!

Theres some interesting information in those profiles, although how old it is I don’t know, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had moved any game development to Unreal Engine 4 (as Black Tusk did a while back).

Platform Next are potentially the other studio mentioned, looking on Linkedin I found the following information (from Top picture to bottom)

  • Ex-Platform Next employee now at 343i was working on Kinect experiences and Technology until March 2013
  • Includes work on Kinect Adventures, Kinect Star Wars and Kinect Funlabs – another Good Science Studio connection
  • A current art director at Platform Next, used to work on Kinect Funlabs and Kinect Star Wars – both of them were Good Science Studios projects (Kinect Star Wars with other developers) as shown by the still active website
  • Senior visual director at Microsoft – Platform Next Studios

Albert Robles 343i PNext Alberto Cerriteno PNext Lloyd Bagtas Profile

It seems there is a link to Good Science Studio somewhere along the way, they’re still on the list of Microsoft Studios developers job listings which was updated to reflect Microsoft Victoria no longer being active.

It’s an interesting development with Phil’s tweet to me above, there could be plenty of other explanations including internal teams and R&D teams whose work gets folded in platform related stuff but considering the link of Good Science Studio to these Linkedin profiles and the lack of information from those studios (Kids and Lifestyle Entertainment – KALE is still somewhat unknown but listed on that MS Studios page and they recently commented on their current title that is similar to what Microsoft did with 1 vs 100 on Xbox 360 so at least we know they still exist.

The third team – Launchworks seems to be a new name for the old XBLA team, with Xbox Live Arcade not existing on Xbox One they could have just been Xbox Live Productions or something but it seems they were given a different name. The Launchworks name and websites were trademarked in 2013 and actually has a website up on the domain which shows off games released on XBLA like World of Tanks and Killer Instinct which is a downloadable only title on Xbox One but fits the old criteria of XBLA.

This is all I’ve got except for the Launchworks images below which backup my assertions, it seems unclear on the status of Good Science Studio whilst LXP certainly are a studio and Platform Next Studios could be too but we need more answers. If I (or anyone else) finds anymore information I will be sure to update the post.

Hong Dimante Jason York Jeremiah Strong Rukari Austin Scott Guest

A list of the Linkedin Profiles if anyone else wants to have a look:

LXP:

Linkedin Profile 1 – Adam Smith Kipnis (Lead Audio)
Linkedin Profile 2 – Nick Fajt (Senior Program Manager)
Linkedin Profile 3 – Ron Amador (Lead Artist)
Linkedin Profile 4 – Brian Mount (Software Development Manager)

Platform Next Studios:

Linkedin Profile 1 – Alberto Cerriteno (Art Director) “PNext”
Linkedin Profile 2 – Albert Robles Sr Mission Designer at 343i – Ex-Platform Next
Linkedin Profile 3 – Lloyd Bagtas Senior Visual Designer at Platform Next Studios

Launchworks:

Linkedin Profile 1 – Jason York (Producer)
Linkedin Profile 2 – Scott Guest (Technical Director)
Linkedin Profile 3 – Jeremiah Armstrong (Associate Producer)
Linkedin Profile 4 – Hong Diamante (Senior Program Manager)
Linkedin Profile 5 – Rukari Austin (Community Coordinator)