Category: Microsoft Studios Projects

Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (May 2015)

May 2015 Edition

First-party studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One) / Halo: The Master Chief Collection updates (Xbox One)
  • Big Park – Entertainment and sports apps (Xbox One)
  • Black Tusk Studios – Gears of War (Xbox One)
  • Decisive Games – Unannounced project
  • [Fun]ction Studios – Hololens development
  • Good Science Studio – Hololens development
  • Lift London – Touch Devices Project / 3 unknown projects
  • Lionhead Studios – Fable Legends (Xbox One/PC) / New IP
  • LXP – Hololens development
  • Mojang – Minecraft (PC/Mobile) / Scrolls (PC/Mobile)
  • Press Play – Kalimba (Xbox One/PC)
  • Rare – Unannounced game(s)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark (Xbox One/PC)
  • Twisted Pixel – New IP
  • Turn10 – Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One) / Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast and Furious (Xbox One/Xbox 360)

Second party studios (publishing relationships or contract work): (more…)

In-depth look at Xbox One exclusives for 2015 and beyond

Looking at the Xbox One line-up from Microsoft Studios for 2015 and beyond, here is my list of every game both announced and unannounced (within reason) that represent the future of what we will be playing. The first part of the list is what we know and the second part is a big analysis of first-party studios, second-party partners and anything else worth mentioning:

Released/announced 2015 titles:

  • Screamride (Frontier Developments) – 03/03/15
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios) – 11/03/15
  • State of Decay Year One Survival Edition (Undead Labs) – 28/04/15
  • Halo 3 ODST (Unknown) – Spring 2015
  • Unannounced game #1 -> post-Spring pre-Fall 2015
  • Unannounced game #2 -> post-Spring pre-Fall 2015 
  • Fable Legends (Lionhead) – Holiday 2015
  • Gigantic (Motiga) – Holiday 2015
  • Halo 5 Guardians (343 Industries) – 27/10/15
  • Forza Motorsport 6 (Turn10 Studios) – Holiday 2015
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics) – Holiday 2015

Unknown/2016 titles:

  • Phantom Dust (Unknown) – TBC
  • Scalebound (Platinum Games) – TBC
  • Crackdown (Cloudgine) – TBC
  • Quantum Break (Remedy Entertainment) – 2016
  • Gears of War (Black Tusk Studios) – TBC

(more…)

Splash Damage (Brink, Dirty Bomb) worked on Halo MCC, maybe more?

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 01.11.19

Based in the south of England like myself Splash Damage are a studio well-known for multiplayer shooters such as Brink, Enemy Territory and soon Dirty Bomb as well as the multiplayer for Batman Arkham Origins, they’ve worked with a range of publishers including Activision, Bethesda, Warner Bros, Nexon and now seemingly Microsoft.

Whilst I was doing some searching on Linkedin recently I noticed that a Splash Damage employee Gordon Biggans listed Halo The Master Chief Collection March 2015 Content update in his profile, this was particularly interesting as Splash Damage were not one of the original studios workings on the game – Ruffian Games, Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity, United Front Games, 343 Industries and Blur Studios, so to see Microsoft had added in another studio was quite interesting and perhaps shows that they needed a studio with significant multiplayer experience to finally get the game up and running as it should do. (more…)

Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (April 2015)

April 2015 Edition

First-party studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One) / Halo: The Master Chief Collection updates (Xbox One)
  • Big Park – Entertainment and sports apps (Xbox One)
  • Black Tusk Studios – Gears of War (Xbox One)
  • Decisive Games – Unannounced project
  • [Fun]ction Studios – Hololens development
  • Good Science Studio – Hololens development
  • Lift London – Touch Devices Project / 3 unknown projects
  • Lionhead Studios – Fable Legends (Xbox One/PC) / New IP
  • LXP – Hololens development
  • Mojang – Minecraft (PC/Mobile) / Scrolls (PC/Mobile)
  • Press Play – Kalimba (Xbox One/PC)
  • Rare – Unannounced game(s)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark (Xbox One/PC)
  • Twisted Pixel – New IP
  • Turn10 – Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One) / Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast and Furious (Xbox One/Xbox 360)

Second party studios (publishing relationships): (more…)

Xbox Twitter follow list

Whether you are new to Xbox/Twitter or just want more people to follow, these are a lot of the main accounts to follow including official Xbox new outlets, Microsoft staff, development studios and community stuff.

Microsoft News Outlets:

Xbox Wire: @XboxWire – Blog

ID@Xbox: @ID_XboxBlog

Major Nelson: @majornelson – Blog

MS Studios: @MSStudiosBlog – Blog

Xbox: @Xbox – @XboxCanada – @XboxNZ_Official – @xboxuk

Microsoft staff: (more…)

Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (GDC March 2015)

GDC March 2015 Edition

First-party studios:

Second party studios (publishing relationships): (more…)

Microsoft’s new studios are Hololens developers

Recent rumours, website leaks, job listings and Linkedin profiles have given us some indication that Microsoft have some new unannounced game studios working hard in Redmond, following my previous posts and more recent events being the Windows 10 event in January it seems that the announcement of Hololens has given us an insight into what these new studios are working on and the answer is Hololens.

Previous posts:

Using the people whose profiles I was looking at before its easy to see at the very least I was right that they are working in these studios, which is reassuring at least!

What I’m looking for here is the people associated with Microsoft Studios and Xbox, theres obviously going to be profiles i’ll miss because there are so many but the purpose of my interest was to find out about the new Microsoft Studios and then to find out what they were doing so this like a part 2 to my previous posts. (more…)

Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (February 2015)

February 2015 Edition

First-party studios:

  • 343 Industries:
    • Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One)
    • Halo: The Master Chief Collection updates (Xbox One)
  • Big Park: Entertainment and sports apps (Xbox One)
  • Black Tusk Studios: Gears of War (Xbox One)
  • Good Science Studio: Unknown if they even exist anymore
  • Lifestyle Entertainment: “1 vs 100 style download game” (Xbox One)
  • Lift London: Touch Devices Project / 3 unknown projects
  • Lionhead Studios:
    • Fable Legends (Xbox One/PC)
    • New IP
  • Mojang
    • Minecraft (PC/Mobile)
    • Scrolls (PC/Mobile)
  • Press Play
  • Rare: Unannounced game(s)
  • Soho Productions:
    • Upload Studio V2 (Xbox One)
    • Other apps
  • Team Dakota
    • Project Spark (Xbox One/PC)
  • Twisted Pixel – New IP
  • Turn10 – Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One)

(more…)

My 2015 predictions: A huge year for gaming

Following my predictions last year and the review I recently did of those (scoring a disappointing 21/44!) these are my predictions for the year ahead with the score total for comparison next year in brackets. I’ll try not to be too obvious with guesses like “Halo 5 releases this year” as that’s just cheating. Ive got a lot of games down for announcements but not a 2015 release as im not sure exactly how this year will pan out for releases:

Microsoft – Xbox One/Xbox 360/PC:

  • Xbox One slim released this year [1]
  • Rare announce new Banjo-Kazooie and Battletoads [2]
  • New internal studios: Leap Experience Pioneers, [Fun]ction Studios, Platform Next are announced, focused on smaller, VR or cloud based games [4]
  • Fable Legends released on PC as well as Xbox One, is Free-to-Play and is not well received [3]
  • Quantum Break is critically acclaimed and sells well when it releases [2]
  • Halo 5: Guardians releases to critical acclaim and blockbuster sales [2]
  • Halo Reach and Halo Wars ports announced for Xbox One, Skybox Labs developing Halo Wars port, Halo: Spartan Strike releases on Xbox One and Xbox 360[4]
  • Gears of War Collection announced and released this year for Xbox One and PC with cross-play, teaser trailer for Gears 4 at E3, is 30fps [7]
  • Crackdown MIA at E3 for Gamescom showing, no release date offered [2]
  • Phantom Dust is not released this year [1]
  • New PressPlay and Twisted Pixel games announced and released this year [2]
  • Microsoft secure at least 1 other third-party exclusive [1]
  • A new Minecraft spin-off announced exclusively for MS platforms (PC, 360, Xbox One and mobile). Exclusive upgrades for Xbox versions of the main game confirmed to tie in to PC/Mobile versions [2]
  • State of Decay follow-up teased after Year One Survival Edition releases [1]
  • Price drops to $349 official with a 1 game bundle in February for Evolve, $299 holiday bundles including third-party game, Halo 5 Guardians or Rise of the Tomb Raider [4]
  • Microsoft pick up Homefront: The Revolution marketing [1]
  • Killer Instinct Season 3 releases this year with a “guest” character (like Master Chief or another character) [1]
  • Lionhead new IP teased at Gamescom conference, is a survival game [2]
  • Microsoft VR announced at E3 with tech demos from previously released games [2]
  • Forza 6 announced around E3 for holiday release [1]
  • Indie parity clause stays [1]
  • Sunset Overdrive and Forza Horizon 2 released for PC in the summer, Halo: The Master Chief Collection releases towards the end of the year [3]
  • New Xbox One Dashboard UI revealed at January Windows 10 event, released near E3 [2]
  • New RTS announced (Rise of Nations or Age of Empires) by Decisive Games. More ports of PC back catalogue updated for Steam [2]
  • Microsoft announce their own PSX style event for early 2016, called x16 [2]
  • Scalebound given early 2016 release date, has 4 player co-op [2]
  • Lift London release multiple games this year including an Xbox One game [2]
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider is critically acclaimed and sells well [2]
  • New AAA exclusive announced from an independent developer [1]
  • Microsoft own nearly all the new IPs made by independent develops they announce this year [1]
  • Microsoft relax restrictions on cross-platform play and Gold requirements for MMOs, Final Fantasy XIV announced for Xbox One [3]
  • Games with Gold for Xbox One increases to two new games per month [1]
  • An exclusive first-party MOBA announced [1]
  • Xbox 360 gets a $50 price drop [1]
  • Ori and the Blind Forest is the highest rated Microsoft Studios title this year [1]

Maximum points possible: 70

Sony – Playstation 4/Playstation 3:

  •  The Order 1886 gets varying critical reception but sells ok [2]
  • Bloodborne gets great critical acclaim, sells very well [2]
  • Until Dawn gets varying critical and doesn’t sell well [2]
  • Uncharted 4 gets great critical reception, sells huge numbers – 5 million this year alone [2]
  • Guerrilla Games new IP announced, release date is early 2016, new Killzone announced by Guerrilla Cambridge [3]
  • Gran Turismo 6, God of War Ascension, Beyond Two Souls and Uncharted Master Thief Collection announced for PS4 [4]
  • New God of War announced for 2016 release, still has Kratos as the main character [3]
  • New Sony Bend IP announced for 2016 release [2]
  • Sucker Punch tease new IP at PSX conference [2]
  • Street Fighter V dated for 2016 [1]
  • Quantic Dreams new game announced [1]
  • Rime releases to great critical acclaim [1]
  • Wild given 2016 release date [1]
  • PS Now subscription prices are reduced [1]
  • Project Morpheus given unspecified 2016 date and new name [1]
  • EA Access launches on Playstation 4 with exclusive feature [2]
  • Sony pick up co-marketing for EAs Star Wars games and have exclusive beta for Battlefront [2]
  • Another third-party exclusive announced with a port of earlier game(s) by Sony’s Third-Party Production team [2]
  • Suspend/Resume finally releases and is buggy, big OS update released during the year [2]
  • A new Paradox console exclusive is announced, Hollowpoint and Magicka get a good critical reception [3]
  • The Last Guardian is still dead (no new footage/details) [1]
  • Destiny is once again featured in Sony’s E3 conference to announce holiday retail expansion [2]
  • Deep Down releases and is poorly received [1]
  • Ratchet and Clank Redux is announced as Insomniac’s last R&C game, gets positive reviews, film bombs [3]
  • Playstation 4 gets a $50 (and worldwide equivalent) price drop for holiday 2015 (so, August/September time) [2]
  • 2 new AAA exclusives announced from independent developers [2]
  • Playstation TV is discontinued in US [1]
  • Japan Studio AAA JRPG announced [1]
  • Gravity Rush 2 announced as PSVita/PS4 release, Killzone Mercenaries and Gravity Rush ported to PS4 [3]
  • Tearaway: Unfolded releases to great critical acclaim but disappointing sales, Media Molecule new IP announced [3]
  • Shadow of the Beast releases [1]
  • Knack 2 announced for holiday release [1]
  • Playstation 3 and PSVita get $50 price drops [2]
  • No Man’s Sky is incredibly highly rated [1]
  • Dead Rising 3 releases on PS4 [1]

Total: 64

Other games industry events:

  • Call of Duty decline continues with Treyarch’s Call of Duty (Black Ops 3) [2]
  • GTAV heists finally launch and are disappointing, single player expansion released later in the year, Rockstar announce their next AAA release for 2016 (Agent or Red Dead 3) [4]
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution sequel releases this year, new Hitman not revealed, Final Fantasy XV releases with Kingdom Hearts 3 demo, Rise of the Tomb Raider not announced for non-Xbox platforms  [5]
  • New Mass Effect given early 2016 release date, Battlefront releases in November and is disappointing, other Star Wars game revealed at E3 (Visceral/Bioware), Mirrors Edge dated for Spring 2016, Battlefield Hardline releases to controversy due to the Police theme but does work online, new PGA Golf game sells poorly [7]
  • Battleborn releases and bombs as does Evolve, Mafia 3 releases this year from Hangar13 Studios, Ken Levine announces new project, Another Borderlands announced along with remastered release of previous titles, new Bioshock announced [6]
  • Assassins Creed Rogue releases on Xbox One/PS4 in Spring, Victory has the same sort of issues (not as bad) as Unity does [2]
  • Rainbow Six Siege releases to critical acclaim and high sales, Watch_Dogs 2 announced at E3 for 2016, The Division is delayed until early 2016 and Ubisoft release another broken game (not R6) [6]
  • Titanfall 2 announced for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC at E3 with Xbox exclusive content (inc beta) and 2016 release with single player campaign [3]
  • Fallout 4 announced, Doom releases with outsourced multiplayer (Certain Affinity), Elder Scrolls Online goes Free-to-Play and console release, Dishonoured 2 announced [6]
  • Valve finally announce Left for Dead 3 for next-gen/PC, bring Team Fortress 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive only to PS4 [3]
  • Resident Evil Zero remastered later in the year with Resident Evil 2 announcement as well, new Devil May Cry announced for 2016, New Capcom Vancouver IP announced for Xbox One/PS4/PC, Capcom bring back a classic IP for next-gen [5]
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain finally releases in June, is balls to the wall awesome and sells gangbusters, Silent Hills confirmed as multiplatform and due for 2016 release [4]
  • Fortnite releases in open beta on PC and console version announced [2]
  • Batman Arkham Knight is disappointing, Mad Max finally releases, Gauntlet gets improved console release, LEGO Jurassic Park releases with the movie, Harry Potter game announced [5]
  • Crytek release Hunt: Horrors of a Gilded Age in beta, Warface releases for Xbox One/Playstation 4 and my heart is still broken over a lack of Ryse 2 [3]
  • Cyperbunk 2077 E3 teaser trailer [1]
  • Homefront: The Revolution releases in the holidays, new Metro teased [2]
  • Nintendo don’t announce a new handheld or home console, Zelda WiiU is the highest rated game of the year, another classic franchise is brought back, Amiibo’s continue to do well [4]
  • Codemasters lose the F1 license despite improved Xbox One and Playstation 4 release [1]
  • More Bungie staff leave [1]
  • Someone announces a AAA game with dinosaurs in it [1]
  • Xbox One sales continue to steadily improve (US/UK) during the year and its a close race during the year with PS4 in the US with neither significantly making any ground, Microsoft win the holidays again (US), PS4 continues to outsell heavily worldwide [3]
  • Not a huge amount of AAA new IPs are announced [1]

Total: 77

Criteria for sales will be based sales charts and statements are made by the publishers and making a reasonable judgments on the information available. Critical reception based on reviews and general reception, the critical receptions are mainly saying the games are good/bad/dividing and I’ll ignore any personal bias otherwise that makes its a pointless task!

Also, lack of Nintendo predictions is because I don’t really follow them not that they won’t do much.

Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (January 2015)

January 2015 Edition

First party studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One) / Halo: The Master Chief Collection updates (Xbox One)
  • Big Park – Entertainment and sports apps (Xbox One)
  • Black Tusk Studios – Gears of War (Xbox One)
  • Good Science Studio – Unknown
  • Kids and Lifestyle Entertainment – “1 vs 100 style download game” (Xbox One)
  • Lift London – Touch Devices Project / 3 unknown projects
  • Lionhead Studios – Fable Legends (Xbox One) / New IP(s)
  • Mojang – Minecraft (PC/Mobile) / Scrolls (PC)
  • Press Play – Kalimba (Xbox One/PC)
  • Rare – Unannounced game
  • Soho Productions – Upload Studio (Xbox One)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark updates/DLC (Xbox One/PC)
  • Twisted Pixel – New IP
  • Turn10 – Forza Horizon 2 DLC (Xbox One)

Second party studios (publishing relationships):

  • 4J Studios – Minecraft: Xbox Edition DLC (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Access Games – D4 DLC (Xbox One)
  • Certain Affinity – Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary / Halo 2 Anniversary (Xbox One)
  • Cloudgine – Crackdown (Xbox One)
  • Grounding Inc – Phantom Dust (Xbox One)
  • Frontier Developments – Screamride (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Harmonix – Dance Central: Spotlight DLC (Xbox One)
  • Insomniac Games – Sunset Overdrive DLC (Xbox One)
  • Iron Galaxy – Killer Instinct: Season Two (Xbox One)
  • Moon Studios – Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One/PC/Xbox 360)
  • Platinum Games – Scalebound (Xbox One)
  • Playground Games – Forza Horizon 2 DLC (Xbox One)
  • Remedy Entertainment – Quantum Break (Xbox One)
  • Skybox Labs – Unannounced game (Xbox One)
  • Sumo Digital – Xbox Fitness (Xbox One)
  • Toylogic – Happy Wars (Xbox 360/Xbox One)
  • Undead Labs – State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition (Xbox One/PC) / Unannounced project
  • United Front Games – Halo The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)
  • Vanguard Games – Halo: Spartan Strike (PC/mobile)
  • Wargaming.net – World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition (Xbox 360)

Third-party relationships (exclusives games that are third-party publisher titles):

  • Crystal Dynamics [Square Enix] – Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One/Xbox 360)

Recent publishing or third-partnerships partnerships with no announced active exclusive project:

  • Bluepoint Games [Electronic Arts] – Titanfall DLC (Xbox 360)
  • Capcom Vancouver – Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One)
  • Crytek – Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One) / Warface: Xbox 360 Edition (Xbox 360)
  • Hidden Path Entertainment – Age of Empires II HD Edition (Steam)
  • Respawn Entertainment [Electronic Arts] – Titanfall DLC (Xbox One/PC)
  • Signal Studios – Ascend Hand of Kul updates (Xbox 360)
  • Zoe Mode – Powerstar Golf DLC (Xbox One)

Other information/hints:

Speculation:

Rumours:

Change list & other notes:

  • Removed Josef Fares next project from speculation following TGA announcement of a deal with EA
  • Added speculation about a second Black Tusk team following a new year tweet
  • Added speculation about Splash Damage working on an Xbox One game following a Eurogamer article
  • Added Skybox Labs back to Second party publishing relationship as their website lists an Xbox One game (unannounced and they’ve worked with MS several times before)

Previous lists:

Job listings: Rare – Multiple titles, multiple projects, UE4/Unity

Its not too dissimilar to a job listing I wrote about in a much bigger post covering several studios I made recently, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts on what is going on at Rare.

On the 8th December they posted (or updated anyway) a job listing for a Lead UI Artist and theres a few interesting things in there:

Rare - Lead UI Artist Rare - Lead UI Artist 2

 

(Via Microsoft Careers)

These were the things I wanted to highlight really:

  • “…exploring a variety of styles across multiple genres and projects”
  • “Work with the game designer and art director to build out wireframes for multiple titles
  • “Manage a UI team and their deliverables across multiple projects
  • “Drive forward the vision for the wider user experience on multiple titles
  • “Basic practical skills of implementation inside of UE4, Unity

Thats very specific language and seems pretty clear as to what it means and this is what I think is going on at Rare: Unreal Engine 4 is being used for their next AAA game – which we know they are making, its the obvious choice, now whether they are modifying it significantly or not I don’t know but considering how widespread UE4 is at MS its not a surprise, there have been rumours of a new Banjo-Kazooie game being in development, I’m not 100% convinced they are making it but it could be.

Next up Unity, now UE4 and Unity are very popular and modern engines and whilst I’m not development I suspect they’re completely different engines, they want people with experience for modern engines and I think they are likely developing something else on a smaller scale using Unity. Lets not forget Rare remade Jetpac in Jetpac Refuelled for XBLA so they do have form for it, this would also explain multiple genres and multiple titles, titles being games and projects being something thats not a game. Battle toads was recently trademarked, its the obvious thing to guess really but there is nothing to specifically say what it is.

FInally, Rare some impressive new tech for Kinect Sports Rivals for their “champions” which are like next-generation avatars and I suspect they will have a team adapting that to work on embedding that within the Xbox One OS as well. They could be working on other games beyond that, with the way Microsoft like their studios to have “Incubation” teams I suspect Rare have something similar to that.

At a glance I think that seems like a decent guess of the activity going on, now it could be something completely different to Banjo-Kazooie and Battletoads, or maybe Banjo is the Unity game and the AAA game is a new IP, time will tell but we know that Rare have shown a game to Head of Xbox Phil Spencer so I suspect we will only have a few months to wait until we start to hear more concrete news on what Rare are developing.

Personally I would like to see a new Perfect Dark, now you might be think “another FPS etc” but I think if Rare took a different approach, going for something like Splinter Cell Conviction/Deus Ex: Human Revolution, a proper secret agent with stealth etc they could be onto something unique and different and wouldn’t need to compete with the Call of Duty, Battlefield, Halo crowd.

I do think that they need to be getting back to multiple games of all shapes and sizes and it seems like that certainly could be happening, i’d like to see them do more Jetpac Refuelled makeovers for some of their other N64 games like Jet Force Gemini and Blast Corps, and maybe do something with that Xbox Conker game if they’re not going to make a sequel. Finally an Xbox One port of Trouble in Paradise would suffice, I don’t feel like I need another one as good as the series was.

All eyes will be on Rare hopefully at some point next year.

Job listings: Team Dakota open incubation team for new project

Team Dakota’s single project so far has been Project Spark, an ambitious title especially for a new team on new hardware (and Windows 8) that came out of beta in October on PC and Xbox One but is still a long way from being “complete” – if it ever will be. Project Spark is progressing at a good speed as they polish it up, add new features and new DLC packs including the Conker pack next year, the fact that it was given some time on-stage at the Microsoft E3 2014 conference shows the confidence that Xbox have in the team and the project and its good to see it improve.

But whats next for Team Dakota? Well, given the size of the project i’d have expected in all honesty for them to continue with that for the foreseeable future but it seems they and Microsoft have other ideas:

“Team Dakota’s newly formed incubation team is working on creating our next new hit. Come join us as we incubate new project ideas with the goal being to find that next hit to bring to market and build a team around.” (Via Microsoft Careers website – link reliably may vary as positions get filled)

Team Dakota Incubation 1 Team Dakota Incubation 2

 

Reading the full listing is quite interesting although doesn’t give us much of a clue as to what sort of project they might work on, the intent to expand seems like an obvious thing to expect when they are going multi-project but outside of that there isn’t much specifically to take from it.

My favourite part of these job listings outside of finding something genuinely interesting is wild speculation time. Looking at Xbox, they have Project Spark and now Minecraft from their recent Mojang acquisition, so I can’t personally see them doing another game/project that is primarily focused on building something but that doesn’t mean it won’t include features like that. I get some Twisted Pixel vibes from them, I’m not expecting a serious game or anything like that, something light hearted, fun and creative.

It will be very interesting to finally hear about whatever this ends up being although I suspect it won’t be for a long time before we hear about it, further developments such as what engine they might use considering all of their other studios seem to be moving over to Unreal Engine 4 and Unity would be something to look out for as well.

At Microsoft Studios and Xbox it seems their teams are expanding to be multi-project studios, the future looks good.

Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (December 2014 Edition)

December 2014 Edition

First party studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One) / Halo: The Master Chief Collection updates (Xbox One)
  • Big Park – Entertainment and sports apps (Xbox 360/Xbox One)
  • Black Tusk Studios – Gears of War (Xbox One)
  • Good Science Studio – Unknown
  • Kids and Lifestyle Entertainment – “1 vs 100 style download game” (Xbox One)
  • Lift London – Touch Devices Project / 3 unknown projects
  • Lionhead Studios – Fable Legends (Xbox One) / New IP
  • Mojang – Minecraft (PC/Mobile) / Scrolls (PC)
  • Press Play – Kalimba (Xbox One/PC)
  • Rare – Unannounced game
  • Soho Productions – Upload Studio (Xbox One)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark updates/DLC (Xbox One/PC)
  • Twisted Pixel – New IP
  • Turn10 – Forza Horizon 2 DLC (Xbox One)

Second party studios (publishing relationships):

  • 4J Studios – Minecraft: Xbox Edition DLC (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Access Games – D4 DLC (Xbox One)
  • Certain Affinity – Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary / Halo 2 Anniversary (Xbox One)
  • Cloudgine – Crackdown (Xbox One)
  • Grounding Inc – Phantom Dust (Xbox One)
  • Frontier Developments – Screamride (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Harmonix – Dance Central: Spotlight DLC (Xbox One)
  • Insomniac Games – Sunset Overdrive DLC (Xbox One)
  • Iron Galaxy – Killer Instinct: Season Two (Xbox One)
  • Moon Studios – Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One/PC/Xbox 360)
  • Platinum Games – Scalebound (Xbox One)
  • Playground Games – Forza Horizon 2 DLC (Xbox One)
  • Remedy Entertainment – Quantum Break (Xbox One)
  • Sumo Digital – Xbox Fitness (Xbox One) / Forza Horizon 2 updates [No DLC] (Xbox 360)
  • Toylogic – Happy Wars (Xbox 360/Xbox One)
  • Undead Labs – State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition (Xbox One/PC) / Unannounced project
  • United Front Games – Halo The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One)
  • Vanguard Games – Halo: Spartan Strike (PC/mobile)
  • Wargaming.net – World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition (Xbox 360)
  • Zoe Mode – Powerstar Golf DLC (Xbox One)

Third-party relationships (exclusives games that are third-party published titles):

  • Bluepoint Games [Electronic Arts]  – Titanfall DLC (Xbox 360)
  • Crystal Dynamics [Square Enix] – Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Respawn Entertainment [Electronic Arts] – Titanfall DLC (Xbox One/PC)

Recent publishing partnerships with no announced active project:

  • Capcom Vancouver – Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One)
  • Crytek – Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One) / Warface: Xbox 360 Edition (Xbox 360)
  • Hidden Path Entertainment – Age of Empires II HD Edition (Steam)
  • Signal Studios – Ascend Hand of Kul updates (Xbox 360)
  • SkyBox Labs – Age of Mythology Extended Edition (Steam) / Rise of Nations: Extended Edition (Steam)

Other information:

Speculation:

Rumours:

Change list & other notes:

  • Halo MCC is released but in disarray so I’ve not changed any of the listings for it as I assume all the studios are likely to be still working on it.
  • Added United Front Games to the list of Halo MCC developers, they developed the front end menu
  • Added a few notes about LiftLondon, Press Play and Rare, changed formatting of the other information list

Previous lists:

Microsoft Studios – Current projects list (November 2014 Edition)

November 2014 Edition

First party studios:

  • 343 Industries – Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One) / Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One) / Halo Channel [app] (Xbox One)
  • Big Park – Entertainment and sports apps (Xbox 360/Xbox One)
  • Black Tusk Studios – Gears of War (Xbox One)
  • Good Science Studio – Unknown
  • Kids and Lifestyle Entertainment – “1 vs 100 style download game” (Xbox One)
  • Lift London – Touch Devices Project / 3 unknown projects
  • Lionhead Studios – Fable Legends (Xbox One) / New IP
  • Mojang – Minecraft (PC/Mobile) / Scrolls (PC)
  • Press Play – Totem (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Rare – Unannounced game
  • Soho Productions – Upload Studio (Xbox One)
  • Team Dakota – Project Spark updates (Xbox One/PC)
  • Twisted Pixel – New IP
  • Turn10 – Forza Motorsport 5 DLC (Xbox One) / Forza Horizon 2 DLC (Xbox One)

Second party studios (publishing relationships):

  • 4J Studios – Minecraft: Xbox Edition DLC (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Access Games – D4 DLC (Xbox One)
  • Certain Affinity – Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary / Halo 2 Anniversary (Xbox One)
  • Cloudgine – Crackdown (Xbox One)
  • Grounding Inc – Phantom Dust (Xbox One)
  • Frontier Developments – Screamride (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Harmonix – Dance Central: Spotlight DLC (Xbox One)
  • Insomniac Games – Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One)
  • Iron Galaxy – Killer Instinct: Season Two (Xbox One)
  • Moon Studios – Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One/PC/Xbox 360)
  • Platinum Games – Scalebound (Xbox One)
  • Playground Games – Forza Horizon 2 DLC (Xbox One)
  • Remedy Entertainment – Quantum Break (Xbox One)
  • Ruffian Games – Halo The Master Chief Collection: Halo 3 / Halo 4 (Xbox One)
  • Saber Interactive – Halo The Master Chief Collection: Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary / Halo 2 Anniversary (Xbox One)
  • Sumo Digital – Xbox Fitness (Xbox One) / Forza Horizon 2 updates [No DLC] (Xbox 360)
  • Toylogic – Happy Wars (Xbox 360/Xbox One)
  • Undead Labs – State of Decay: Year One Survival Edition (Xbox One/PC) / Unannounced project
  • Vanguard Games – Halo: Spartan Strike (PC/mobile)
  • Wargaming.net – World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition (Xbox 360)
  • Zoe Mode – Powerstar Golf DLC (Xbox One)

Third-party relationships (exclusives games that are third-party published titles):

  • Bluepoint Games [Electronic Arts]  – Titanfall DLC (Xbox 360)
  • Crystal Dynamics [Square Enix] – Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One/Xbox 360)
  • Respawn Entertainment [Electronic Arts] – Titanfall DLC (Xbox One/PC)

Recent publishing partnerships with no announced active project:

  • Capcom Vancouver – Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One)
  • Crytek – Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One) / Warface: Xbox 360 Edition (Xbox 360)
  • Hidden Path Entertainment – Age of Empires II HD Edition (Steam)
  • Signal Studios – Ascend Hand of Kul updates (Xbox 360)
  • SkyBox Labs – Age of Mythology Extended Edition (Steam) / Rise of Nations: Extended Edition (Steam)

Other information:

Speculation:

Rumours:

Change list & other notes:

  • SO and Halo MCC released so I’ve changed them to DLC and updates

Previous lists:

Gears of War 1-3 media uploaded on Xbox Wire… what does it mean?

NeoGaf poster The Odd One today posted about some curious new activity on the Xbox Wire media assets page yesterday involving the Gears of War franchise.

Microsoft of course bought the franchise back in January from Epic Games which included all existing and future titles in the critically and commercially successful series (which is one of my favourites of all time) and handed off development to their Black Tusk team in Vancouver Canada with Rod Ferguson formerly of Epic (then helped finish off Bioshock Infinite) joining to team to helm the project.

Most interestingly is that the media assets uploaded are only of Gears 1, 2 and 3 with last years somewhat disappointing prequel Gears of War Judgment potentially left out in the cold. Personally as a big Gears fan whilst Judgment didn’t feature the wildly popular Horde mode, made some perhaps wrong choices with the campaign presentation (being an entirely arcade mode from Gears 3 format) and with a disappointing base multiplayer mode it still has its place in the franchise along the other 3 games. The game looked the best, had the best writing of all 4 games, was still a great single player experience and Overrun multiplayer mode was incredibly fun and better then the Beast multiplayer mode that it expanded upon from Gears of War 3. Perhaps it’s either a mistake, intended as a later addition to any possible collection or the media assets being uploaded are for something completely different.

Now that Microsoft own the series, its possible they’re intending to bundle featuring the first 3 titles for this holiday on Xbox 360? It would be incredibly easy to do or maybe they just have a post planned for it, neither of those are entirely out of the question.

We can only assume what the timeline is for the release of the Black Tusk Gears of War title with Holiday 2016 generally considered the most likely option as it would give the studio just shy of 3 years to make the game, they already had experience with Unreal Engine 4 on their cancelled new IP so I doubt they needed much time to adjust to the engine as they were working on it already. Its been speculated (and hinted at by a reliable industry insider) that a collection is forthcoming which would be fantastic and I would suspect if that’s true it would come out like Halo The Master Chief Collection is a year before the next instalment which puts 2015 as the expected release period for that.

Shinobi Gaf hint

Could any potential Collection be due sooner than we think? I would have expected an E3 2015 announcement but with less work needing to be done on the games to get them suitable for Xbox One release – the titles already look great on 360 still and with an upgraded resolution, perhaps frame-rate if they wanted to go to 60fps and then a Halo MCC style menu to connect the games it would surely take less time than Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 2 Anniversary which had entirely new graphics engines added with switching between the old and new, as well as Halo 2s new CGI cutscenes. This is not to say it would be easy and quick to make, but compared to the Halo Collection I suspect it would be considered as such.

If the asset upload is related to an upcoming announcement, you have to wonder when they would do it, Microsoft don’t have any formal plans for big event shows until E3 2015, the Video Game Awards are being planned for early December but they aren’t what they were and I’m not sure Microsoft would make such a big announcement there. I think if I’m being honest I expect the recent findings to be unrelated to any upcoming announcements unless Microsoft are planning an out of the blue announcement which I wouldn’t expect unless it was due earlier than Holiday 2015 but this is all wild speculation, I can’t help myself as a big Gears of War fan though!

As of writing the media assets are still up on the page dated 28/10/2014 if you wish to have a look, I’ve taken some screenshots to document it incase they are pulled from the website for any reason. It’s a good time to be a Gears fan now that the future is secured at Microsoft, perhaps we might hear sooner than we expected about plans for the franchise, but even if we don’t, E3 2015 is surely a lock for teasers and announcements.

Here are links to a couple of posts I wrote about Gears of War way back at the start of 2014 and also in 2013