New Xbox Studio Releases Hype Video

The Initiative is coming into focus.


The new Microsoft game development studio, The Initiative, has released a hype video that begins to explain what the company is all about. Based in Santa Monica, the studio aims to bring in talent from other nearby industries like TV, film, and music, according to studio head Darrell Gallagher, who himself is a veteran of Square Enix and Activision.

As you'll see in the video, The Initiative really is a new studio that only just recently moved into an office. People often talk about joining a company at the ground floor, and it appears that's where The Initiative's at right now. The video also clarifies some of the positions its employees hold. God of War veteran Brian Westergaard is the director of production, Drew Murray (Sunset Overdrive, Resistance 3) is a lead designer, William Archbell (343 Industries) is the technical director, and Blake Fischer (Xbox) is director of world and narrative. Daniel Neuburger, who worked on Rise of the Tomb Raider, is The Initiative's game director. He says in the video that The Initiative plans to stay "small," but it remains to be seen what that means in practice. Others developers in the video talk about how The Initiative plans to "push boundaries," "challenge convention," and take risks as they make something "spectacular and unique."

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Though they are not in the video, The Initiative also hired Rockstar Games veteran Tom Shepherd, while among the other high-profile hirings include Red Dead Redemption 1 writer/designer Christian Cantamessa.

The Initiative's website shows the company has more than a dozen open positions across a number of disciplines including art, designer, engineering, production, and operations.

The Initiative was announced at E3 2018 as part of Microsoft's wider announcement of new studios and acquisitions. The company, which is based in Santa Monica, says its ambition is "about craft, creating story, innovating, and looking ahead to the next big thing." While the company is owned by Microsoft, it claims to operate independently.

The Initiative is just one of seven studios that Microsoft either set up or acquired in the past year. At E3, Microsoft announced that it acquired Playground Games (Forza Horizon), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few), Ninja Theory (Hellblade), and Undead Labs (State of Decay). At Microsoft's X018 event in Mexico City, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Obsidian Entertainment (Fallout: New Vegas) and inXile Entertainment (Wasteland 3).

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