Xbox Game Studios |OT5| The Cult of Phil in the Age of Booty: A Case Study

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Oct 25, 2017

Hey, everybody, and welcome to the fifth Xbox Studios OT, where we fight over thread titles because the OP is kind of a jackass about them! Not that that's wrong or anything---I agree!

No need to waste time on pleasantries. We all know why you're here.

First Party Studios

Founded in 2007, 343 Industries is Microsoft's home team for all things Halo—video games, movies, TV shows, comics, et cetera. Here's some info:

Noteworthy Persons: Bonnie Ross (General Manager), Frank O'Connor (Franchise Director)

Studio Size: 500 employees

Notable Releases:
  • Halo: Spartan Assault (XB1, Steam, Mobile | 2013 | Metascore 53/70/86)
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection (XB1 | 2014 | Metascore 85)
  • Halo 4 (XB360 | 2012 | Metascore 87)
  • Halo 5: Guardians (XB1 | 2015 | Metascore 84)
  • Halo: Spartan Strike (Win10, Mobile | 2015 | Metascore 66)
  • Halo 5: Forge (Win10 | 2016 | No Metascore)
  • Halo Wars: Definitive Edition (XB1, Win10, Steam | 2017 | Metascore 81)
  • Halo Wars 2 (XB1, Win10 | 2017 | Metascore 79)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • Halo Infinite, the future of Halo.
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection PC version (in conjunction with Ruffian and Splash Damage)

Originally founded in 2010 as Zipline Studios, The Coalition went through two more rebrandings—the first as Microsoft Studios Vancouver, and the second as Black Tusk Studios—before becoming Microsoft's dedicated Gears of War studio after the acquisition of the IP in early 2014. Here's some info:

Noteworthy Persons: Rod Fergusson (Studio Head)

Studio Size: ~300 employees

Notable Releases:
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (XB1, Win10 | 2015 | Metascore 82/73)
  • Gears of War 4 (XB1, Win10 | 2016 | Metascore 84/86)

Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • Gears of War 5
  • Gears Pop!, in conjunction with Splash Damage
  • Gears Tactics


Founded in 2001, apparently due to a lack of simulation racing games present on the Original Xbox, Turn 10 rose to prominence as the Forza Motorsport franchise grew into the tentpole it is today, further expanding in 2012 with the Forza Horizon franchise, developed by Playground Games. Here's some info:

Noteworthy Persons: Alan Hartman (Studio Lead), Dan Greenawalt (Creative Director)

Studio Size: 100 employees

Notable Releases:
  • Forza Motorsport 5 (XB1 | 2013 | Metascore 79)
  • Forza Horizon 2 (XB1 | Collab W/ Playground Games | 2014 | Metascore 86)
  • Forza Motorsport 6 (XB1 | 2015 | Metascore 87)
  • Forza Motorsport 6: Apex (Win10 | 2016 | No Metascore)
  • Forza Horizon 3 (XB1, Win10 | Collab W/ Playground Games | 2016 | Metascore 91/86)
  • Forza Motorsport 7 (XB1, Win10 | 2017 | Metascore 86/82)
  • Forza Horizon 4 (XB1, Win10 | 2018 | Metascore 92/88)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • Forza Motorsport 8

Founded in 1985 by the Stamper brothers, Rareware—as it was then called—focused almost exclusively on development for Nintendo systems, until Microsoft acquired the company in 2002 and shifted their focus to Xbox, changing their name to Rare in the process. Here's some info:

Noteworthy Persons: Craig Duncan (Studio Head), Gregg Mayles (Creative Director)

Studio Size: 200 employees

Notable Releases:
  • Kinect Sports Rivals (XB1 | 2014 | Metascore 60)
  • Rare Replay (XB1 | 2015 | Metascore 84)
  • Sea of Thieves (XB1, Win10 | 2018 | Metascore 68)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:


Founded in 2009 by game developer Markus Persson, Mojang was built around and catered to the development of the modern gaming phenomenon Minecraft. The studio was later acquired by Microsoft in 2014, and still largely focuses on the management and development of the Minecraft IP. Here's some info:

Noteworthy Persons: Jens Bergensten (Lead Creative Designer), Lydia Winters (Brand Director)

Studio Size: 70 employees

Notable Releases:
  • Minecraft (360, PS3, Wii U, XB1, PS4, Switch, Win10, PC, Mobile | 2012-2017 | Metascore 88)
  • Cobalt (XB1, PC | Collab w/ Oxeye Studios | 2016 | Metascore 66)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • Minecraft Dungeons


Established in 2010 by a large group of former racing developers from some of the best studios in the industry, Playground Games pioneered the breakout hit spinoff franchise Forza Horizon, and continues to maintain that series into its fourth iteration, as well as focuses on other projects.

Noteworthy Persons: Will be updated as more info is made known.

Studio Size: I hear this got updated, but I need the number.

Notable Releases:
  • Forza Horizon (360 | 2012 | Metascore 85)
  • Forza Horizon 2 (360, XB1 | 2014 | Metascore 86)
  • Forza Horizon 3 (XB1, Win10 | 2016 | Metascore 91/86)
  • Forza Horizon 4 (XB1, Win10 | 2018 | Metascore 92/88)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:

Originally founded in 2000 as Just Add Monsters, the studio was rebranded as Ninja Theory in 2004 during the development of Heavenly Sword. Comprised of action game experts and a storied history in gaming, Ninja Theory is one of the leaders of action-heavy games and setpiece design.

Noteworthy Persons: Will be updated as more info is made known.

Studio Size: 100 employees

Notable Releases:
  • Kung Fu Chaos (OGXB | 2003 | Metascore 68)
  • Heavenly Sword (PS3 | 2007 | Metascore 79)
  • Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (360, PS3, PC | 2010 | Metascore 80)
  • DmC: Devil May Cry (360, PS3, PS4, XB1, PC | 2013 | Metascore 86)
  • DmC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition (XB1, PS4 | 2015 | Metascore 86)
  • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (XB1, PS4, PC | 2017 | Metascore 81)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • Will be updated as more info is made known.

Founded in 2018, and headed up by Darrell Gallagher, The Initiative is a brand new studio operating out of Santa Monica, California, dedicated to working on brand new AAA games for Microsoft Studios.

Noteworthy Persons: Darrell Gallagher (Studio Head), Dan Staley, Christian Cantamessa, Brian Westergaard, Dan Neuburger, and Tom Shepard

Studio Size: Will be updated as more info is made known.

Notable Releases:
  • Will update as more info is made known.
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • Will update as more info is made known.

Founded in 2009 by Jeff Strain, Undead Labs operated on a laser-guided focus on zombie-based games. Their first game, State of Decay (360), was a smash Xbox Live Arcade hit. Acquired in 2018, Undead Labs remains committed to bringing out the best in zombie-related games, and potentially other projects as well.

Noteworthy Persons: Jeff Strain (Studio Head)

Studio Size: 75 employees

Notable Releases:
  • State of Decay (360, PC | 2013 | Metascore 78)
  • State of Decay 2 (XB1, Win10 | 2018 | Metascore 68)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • State of Decay 3

Founded in 2009 by Guillaume Provost in France, Compulsion Games is comprised of various developers from Valve to Ubisoft, and focuses on story-driven games with weird twists.

Noteworthy Persons: Guillaume Provost (Studio Head)

Studio Size: 40 employees

Notable Releases:
  • Contrast (360, PS3, XB1, PS4, PC | 2013 | Metascore 59/62)
  • We Happy Few (XB1, PS4, PC | 2018 | Metascore 65/68/62)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • Will update as more information becomes known

Founded in 2003 by ex-Black Isle employees, Obsidian Entertainment is one of the foremost Western RPG developers in today’s industry, with a legacy that includes acclaimed titles such as Pillars of Eternity, Fallout: New Vegas, and South Park: The Stick of Truth. Acquired in November 2018, the studio remains committed to brand new WRPG games in both new IPs and old, and will undoubtedly pursue masterclass projects across many fields.

Noteworthy Persons: Feargus Urquhart (CEO), Chris Jones (CTO)

Studio Size: ~190 Employees

Notable Releases:
  • Fallout: New Vegas (360, PS3, PC | 2010 | Metascore 84/82/84)
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth (360, PS3, XB1, PS4, Switch, PC | 2014 | Metascore 82/85/85/85)
  • Pillars of Eternity (PC | 2015 | Metascore 89)
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • New IP: The Outer Worlds

Founded in 2002 by former members of Interplay Productions, inXile Entertainment are the creators behind some of the best CRPGs in the industry, such as Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera. The studio is originally based in Newport Beach, California, however in November of 2015, inXile founded a second studio in New Orleans, where since now-former President Matt Findley has resided as Studio Lead.

Noteworthy Persons: Brian Fargo (Founder and based in Newport Beach, CA), Matt Findley (former president, NOLA Studio Head), George Ziets

Studio Size: ~80 Employees

Notable Releases:
  • Wasteland 2 (XB1, PS4, Switch, PC | 2015 | Metascore 77/80/74/87) [Newport Beach Studio]
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera (XB1, PS4, PC | 2017 | Metascore 79/76/81) [Newport Beach Studio]
  • The Bards' Tale IV: Barrows Deep (PC | 2018 | Metascore 71) [NOLA Studio]
Upcoming Projects and Rumors:
  • Wasteland 3 [Newport Beach Studio]
  • Bard’s Tale IV (console port) [NOLA Studio]

Other Studios/Teams:
  • [email protected], publishing support and pilot program for independent game developers
  • Microsoft Studios Global Publishing, handles Microsoft Studio publishing between first party and partner studios
  • Mixer, streaming service
  • Backwards Compatibility Team, handles Xbox One BackCompat
  • Microsoft Foundry, intern program
  • Mixed Reality Team, works on AR/VR content for Xbox and Windows 10
  • Microsoft Casual Games, works on the casual games collection for Microsoft, including MS Solitaire, Wordament, and MS Mahjong
  • Xbox Growth Team
  • Xbox Game Pass
  • Project xCloud
Acquisitions, Studios and Otherwise (8th Gen):
Studios/Teams Shut Down or Spun Off (8th Gen):
  • Twisted Pixel (The Maw, Splosion Man), left in 2015
  • Press Play (Max and the Curse of Brotherhood, Kalimba), closed in 2016
  • Lionhead Studios (The Fable Franchise), closed in 2016
  • Team Dakota (Project Spark), disbanded in 2016
  • Xbox Fitness Team, disbanded in 2016
  • Decisive Games, disbanded before public outing in 2016
Cancelled/Discontinued Titles (8th Gen):
  • Black Tusk's new IP, cancelled to shift focus onto Gears of War and subsequent titles
  • Project Spark, servers closed in 2015
  • Fable Legends, cancelled with Lionhead's closing in 2016
  • Project Knoxville, cancelled with Press Play's closing in 2016
  • Xbox Fitness, servers closed June 2017
2019 games so far:
  • To be filled when such games exist

Below we have information regarding upcoming titles created by partner studios, as well as any other relevant material not mentioned previously. Don't fret. This section will get a MAJOR rework in the days and weeks to come.

We begin with the Upcoming Partner Titles:

Title: Crackdown 3

Developer: ReAgent Games, Cloudgine, Sumo Digital, Ruffian Games

Release Date: February 15, 2019

Enter Crackdown 3’s sandbox of mayhem and destruction and become a Super-Powered Agent dedicated to Justice by any means necessary. Explore the heights of a dangerous futuristic city, cut through gang-infested streets in a transforming vehicle, and wield amazing abilities to dismantle a ruthless criminal empire. Developed by original creator Dave Jones, Crackdown 3 will deliver cooperative chaos and an all-new multiplayer mode where destruction is your ultimate weapon against friends and rivals online. Whether you’re playing the all-new Campaign or enjoying a truly revolutionary competitive experience, you’ll never look at open-world gaming the same way again.


Title: Age of Empires IV

Developer: Relic Entertainment

Release Date: 2019



Miscellaneous & Important Information
Current Partner Studios:
  • 4J Studios, original console versions of Minecraft
  • Armature, ReCore DLC/updates
  • Beep Industries, VooDoo Vince Remastered
  • Certain Affinity, assistance on Halo projects
  • Cloudgine, Crackdown 3
  • Flaming Foul Studios, Fable Fortune
  • Forgotten Empires, Age of Empires 1: Definitive Edition, Age of Empires 2 & 3: Definitive Editions
  • Iron Galaxy Studios, Killer Instinct new characters/updates
  • Moon Studios, Ori and the Blind Forest, Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • ReAgent Games, Crackdown 3
  • Relic Entertainment, Age of Empire 4
  • Saber Interactive, assistance on Halo projects
  • Skybox Labs, Age of Empires DLC, Halo 5: Forge updates
  • Smoking Gun Interactive, Age of Empires: Castle Siege
  • Splash Damage, assistance on Gears of War 4 DLC
  • StudioMDHR, Cuphead
  • Electric Square, Miami Street (renamed to Forza Street)
  • Sumo Digital, Crackdown 3
Rumored Partners:
  • None so far
Cancelled Partner Collaborations:
To reiterate, this post will be updated whenever new information is revealed or things need to be adjusted to reflect the current outlook as per the facts. If you have any suggestions, or believe I've left something out, please ping me in the Discord or send me a message here on Era and I'll address any issues as soon as I can.

Credit for the headers goes to Klobrille.

IF YOU WANT TO GET INTO THE XBOXERA DISCORD, PLEASE PM ME ON ERA. I'll try and get you in as soon as I can.
Last edited:

Bits N Pieces

Oct 27, 2017
It really is a great OT, good job Kaironaut.

And this should settle us nicely into the madness that is E3!

One thing, are we sure on the studio count for most of them?


Feb 12, 2018
OT5 already.

I have high expectations for E3 this year, but even higher expectations for next year.


Oct 28, 2017
This thread doesn't matter until hmqgg drops a bomb.

...and by bomb I mean, a small nugget of information that you guys will think he photoshopped.


Oct 24, 2018
Thanks for the new OT. Maybe you can add that MCC is coming for PC to the OT. Also Splash Damage is assisting with MCC (PC), Gears 5 and Gears Tactics. Ruffian is also assisting with the PC port of MCC.
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