Spencer Says He's Not Done Shopping (and then a rumor)

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OneBadMutha

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#1
https://wccftech.com/spencer-always-open-to-expand-1st-party/

I think we’re always open to look into expanding our first party. I don’t think Matt (Booty) and I looked at E3 as the end of our journey here. I think it’s something we’ll always keep our eyes open. Some of these deals may not all happen at the same time, we were lucky to be able to keep the news quiet for a while, which doesn’t always happen but was nice that it did so we could land the news here and the surprise. We know investment in our first-party, whether it’s new things or growth or existing franchises, is important.​
Lastly, Spencer said that the next projects from the newly acquired studios might have very different schedules. For instance, Ninja Theory is already working on something as they shipped Hellblade almost a year ago now, while the other teams are still busy on existing projects.​

Also found this at Resetera:


"The Waypoint crew was saying on their podcast about the Xbox conference that they've heard other acquisition talk that they don't want to mention since it may affect the deal. So there's definitely other stuff getting worked on."


Also under the radar:
  • Microsoft doubled Rare to 200 employees very recently
  • Undead Labs nearly doubled near the end of production (likely having to do with Microsoft buyout)
  • Ninja Theory had less than 30 of their 100 employees working on Hellblade because the rest of them had to work as contractors to keep the studio financially viable. Now the other 70% can focus on their own games.

Spencer is getting all the resources he needs to build gaming's Death Star...pointed at 2020.
 

JinCA

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#2
I'm glad these investments are happening, better late than never.
 

OneBadMutha

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#3
There's this in a Booty Interview:

https://www.polygon.com/platform/am...&utm_source=twitter&__twitter_impression=true

"At the same time, we’re going to start some things from a complete blank piece of paper. What we’re doing with Darryl [Gallagher] down in Santa Monica ... we didn’t buy a team. We’re starting a studio. We were very fortunate to get in touch with Darryl Gallagher who’s a great leader, an industry veteran. He worked at Square. He worked on Tomb Raider. He was at Activision. We’re going to take a bet on a person. We’re going to take a bet on people that he’s going to be able to put together a team, and we’re just going to really hand him a blank piece of paper. But know that he’s got that full support of Microsoft, and know that we want to chase after that bigger game plan."

Refreshing approach with their studios. I think Game Pass is what makes this possible. Studios need to put out high quality content...not necessarily easily marketable content since most people with Game Pass will at least download 1st party games.
 

The Sunset Limited

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#4
So apparently Initiative Games, one of the studios announced at E3, is a large AAA developer. Microsoft doing some good things for the next XBox. Dark times may be nearing an end.
 

Andy

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#5
There's this in a Booty Interview:

https://www.polygon.com/platform/am...&utm_source=twitter&__twitter_impression=true

"At the same time, we’re going to start some things from a complete blank piece of paper. What we’re doing with Darryl [Gallagher] down in Santa Monica ... we didn’t buy a team. We’re starting a studio. We were very fortunate to get in touch with Darryl Gallagher who’s a great leader, an industry veteran. He worked at Square. He worked on Tomb Raider. He was at Activision. We’re going to take a bet on a person. We’re going to take a bet on people that he’s going to be able to put together a team, and we’re just going to really hand him a blank piece of paper. But know that he’s got that full support of Microsoft, and know that we want to chase after that bigger game plan."

Refreshing approach with their studios. I think Game Pass is what makes this possible. Studios need to put out high quality content...not necessarily easily marketable content since most people with Game Pass will at least download 1st party games.
This is excellent news. Sounds like a very big investment.

Great to hear Phil about buying more studios.

Ninja Theory's game in 2019 then, maybe. On Gamepass.


"We know investment in our first-party, whether it’s new things or growth or existing franchises, is important."

Nice to see them finally following through.
 

GordoSan

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#6
There's this in a Booty Interview:

https://www.polygon.com/platform/am...&utm_source=twitter&__twitter_impression=true

"At the same time, we’re going to start some things from a complete blank piece of paper. What we’re doing with Darryl [Gallagher] down in Santa Monica ... we didn’t buy a team. We’re starting a studio. We were very fortunate to get in touch with Darryl Gallagher who’s a great leader, an industry veteran. He worked at Square. He worked on Tomb Raider. He was at Activision. We’re going to take a bet on a person. We’re going to take a bet on people that he’s going to be able to put together a team, and we’re just going to really hand him a blank piece of paper. But know that he’s got that full support of Microsoft, and know that we want to chase after that bigger game plan."

Refreshing approach with their studios. I think Game Pass is what makes this possible. Studios need to put out high quality content...not necessarily easily marketable content since most people with Game Pass will at least download 1st party games.
Had a chat with some random fellow this morning, who was a barista at a local coffee spot. He saw my badge and wanted to talk about Nintendo. Somehow we got to Game Pass, and he was just like, "oh, that's a no brainer. New games are always coming out, and they'll be added all the time." That's just one take, but I think that in general, Microsoft may actually braking through with this. I think that I heard this twice, but I would expect it more at the Xbox Experience.
 

OneBadMutha

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#7
Below is what I've pieced together based on multiple interviews, investor commentary and what Spencer and Nadella have said themselves.

Before the Spencer promotion, my personal opinion was Microsoft was going to sell Xbox. That was obviously wrong however Xbox reported to Windows and Windows leadership didn't believe in or understand gaming. Many investors thought that resources invested in Xbox were a waste because they were diluting the focus that should be on Windows. After the 2013 debacle, the people of power with that belief were emboldened and they were able to shut off the flow of money to Xbox to focus more on their core business.

Somehow Spencer convinced Nadella to buy Minecraft. Spencer's original pitch to buy Minecraft was shut down by Myerson. Nadella admitted this in an interview. Spencer went over Myerson's head some time later and made the case again. Nadella went for it. Minecraft is rumored to have made as much profit for their gaming division as the rest of the division combined. Since Minecraft is on everything and made as much as the combined closed Xbox ecosystem, it opened up Nadella's eyes to the potential of gaming if they could shed being tied to one piece of plastic.

Spencer started Game Pass last year. He said he envisioned it being comparable to a gaming Netflix. He was talking speculatively at the time (like he didn't have any green light yet) but during an interview after Game Pass was announced, he talked about the idea that a service like this could be a way to support all types of content including that which would be hard sells on their own. When Nadella pushed out Myserson, promoted Spencer to the head of the table and Spencer said all 1st party games would go to Game Pass, I got hyped and predicted this would happen. They were the only next steps that made any sense. Nadella showed that he bought the Spencer sales pitch once he moved Myerson out from between them. I still don't believe they have enough studios to independently support Game Pass for what they envision it to be so expect more buy-outs or some significant 2nd/3rd party relationships until they do find more studios to buy.

At this point, all leadership positions from the very top all the way down to their studio heads have changed since that infamous 2013 Xbox One reveal with the exception of 343 and Turn 10. In my opinion, this is the best company structure and leadership Microsoft gaming has had from a gamers and developers standpoint. It's why I've been so positive about the brand despite the fact they haven't been investing for a few years. New people. New strategy.
 

Edge BC

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#9
I hope they're considering Remedy. Other than that, I have no idea which studios they could be eyeing. I never expected them to add Compulsion games.
 

menace-uk-

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I hope they're considering Remedy. Other than that, I have no idea which studios they could be eyeing. I never expected them to add Compulsion games.
They are buying EA, Sony and Nintendo :laugh: These rumours will start soon--or again in EA's case.
 

Pureshooter

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#12
If nothing else we can dispel the rumors that had been floating around that MS was looking to bow out of the console race entirely. If nothing else they reestablished their commitment to gaming, which is good for everyone.
 

starseeker

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#13
Shopping for a new job? If someone has the performance, or rather lack of it at my firm, he/she will have be given the boot.
 

Mcmasters

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#14
I hope they're considering Remedy. Other than that, I have no idea which studios they could be eyeing. I never expected them to add Compulsion games.
I'm actually kinda bent they haven't acquired Remedy yet. I don't care what people say; Remedy makes some of the most creative and exciting content in my opinion. Their visionary story tellers. Microsoft needs Remedy to join the family. Its such a perfect fit! WTF Phil? Knab dem mofos!
 

Andy

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I'm actually kinda bent they haven't acquired Remedy yet. I don't care what people say; Remedy makes some of the most creative and exciting content in my opinion. Their visionary story tellers. Microsoft needs Remedy to join the family. Its such a perfect fit! WTF Phil? Knab dem mofos!
There may be a little tension in that relationship. I'm imagining that if I'm Remedy, I'm a little aggravated at MS for squeezing us into their TV/TV/TV initiative by making QB into this hybrid game/TV show. That did not go over well, and it contributed to the game's mediocre reception, despite all the effort QB put in. I'm guessing there is some resentment or tension there. And then, on top of that, they didn't renew their contract. That's not going to leave you with warm feelings.
 

Hedon

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There may be a little tension in that relationship. I'm imagining that if I'm Remedy, I'm a little aggravated at MS for squeezing us into their TV/TV/TV initiative by making QB into this hybrid game/TV show. That did not go over well, and it contributed to the game's mediocre reception, despite all the effort QB put in. I'm guessing there is some resentment or tension there. And then, on top of that, they didn't renew their contract. That's not going to leave you with warm feelings.
I personally feel that QB was underrated. It's the only game I have ever played that had live action like it did. I think Ashmore did pretty good. Though I didn't know that MS was the one pushing the live action for that title.

MS should have said to Remedy, here is 10 million dollars in publishing money, make Alan Wake 2 please.
 

Andy

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Though I didn't know that MS was the one pushing the live action for that title.
I don't know that for sure, either, it's just awfully coincidental that Remedy decides to incorporate a literal TV show at the same time MS is pushing TV/TV/TV integration. I'm just assuming there was some influence there. MS also seems to have had a pattern back then (which was around the same time the Fable project was falling apart) of being heavy with the suit interference -- "suggestions" from executives more interested in corporate monetization models than in letting developers do their thing. So it would fit in that regard, too.
 

starseeker

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I understand why. As someone who face possible layoffs on 2 occasions, & depression due to that, nothing is worth more to an employee than job security.

If MS can provide this to them, while allowing the employees to have their creative freedom, & MORE importantly their job, kudos to them.
 

Hedon

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#19
MS opens a new studio and buys 4 more. Yet they closed Lionhead, lets Bungie go off into Activisionland, Twisted Pixel, XSN and others. Then they have a studio they bought make Fable (most likely). Why didn't they just keep all their studios to begin with and give them creative freedoms?
 

Andy

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MS opens a new studio and buys 4 more. Yet they closed Lionhead, lets Bungie go off into Activisionland, Twisted Pixel, XSN and others. Then they have a studio they bought make Fable (most likely). Why didn't they just keep all their studios to begin with and give them creative freedoms?
I think the short answer is because they had their heads up their ass.
 

yankeessuck

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#21
I don't know that for sure, either, it's just awfully coincidental that Remedy decides to incorporate a literal TV show at the same time MS is pushing TV/TV/TV integration. I'm just assuming there was some influence there. MS also seems to have had a pattern back then (which was around the same time the Fable project was falling apart) of being heavy with the suit interference -- "suggestions" from executives more interested in corporate monetization models than in letting developers do their thing. So it would fit in that regard, too.
Supposedly Remedy wanted to do live action for Alan Wake 2. MS liked the live action but wanted a new IP instead.
 

Hedon

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#23
Supposedly Remedy wanted to do live action for Alan Wake 2. MS liked the live action but wanted a new IP instead.
Live action for Alan Wake 2 would be cool to see.
 

OneBadMutha

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#25
MS opens a new studio and buys 4 more. Yet they closed Lionhead, lets Bungie go off into Activisionland, Twisted Pixel, XSN and others. Then they have a studio they bought make Fable (most likely). Why didn't they just keep all their studios to begin with and give them creative freedoms?
Different organizational structure and strategy. New people. New perspectives. Commitment only started late 2017.

Spencer was in Shannon Loftis’s position when Bungie was let go and had funding cut off when he reported directly to Myerson. It’s not been validated but the rumor is Microsoft only had so much budget in UK and the choice was to keep Rare or Lionhead...so they went with Rare. Reduced budget wasn’t enough to sustain them both.

Also just rumors...Bungie was a bit frustrated and bored being forced to only work in Halo shooters. They pitched Destiny and Microsoft said no.

Scalebound’s cancellation may have been a combo of Platinums lack of progression combined with Xbox’s lack of budget. Not fully one or the other.

In the end, came down to money. Always comes down to money.

Hopefully Microsoft also has takeaways from those experiences so that when studios start deteriorating as single IP/single genre factories, they let them spread their wings a little going forward.
 
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timmy-boy

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#26
The biggest miss Microsot made was not snatching up Bioware. Probably would have done a better job than EA too. Oh well. I am excited to see Microsoft invest in first party because it will bring some much needed competition to Sony (still think they have much better first party studios though) and if it can keep studios like Ninja theory going but also thriving the industry is so much better for it. Manufacturers have a unique position and should be able not only put out groundbreaking titles but also different and unique titles third party wouldn't take a risk on.
 

Nervusbreakdown

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#27
MS opens a new studio and buys 4 more. Yet they closed Lionhead, lets Bungie go off into Activisionland, Twisted Pixel, XSN and others. Then they have a studio they bought make Fable (most likely). Why didn't they just keep all their studios to begin with and give them creative freedoms?
Well, those things were done way before Phil.
I am pretty sure things would be different if he had MS from day one.
 
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OneBadMutha

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#28
Phil was interviewed by Jeff at Giant Bomb. Jeff said there’s rumors around E3 of another major acquisition. Phil replied by saying they’re still looking to acquire studios and left it there.
 

NitX

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#29
opens a new studio and buys 4 more. Yet they closed Lionhead, lets Bungie go off into Activisionland, Twisted Pixel, XSN and others. Then they have a studio they bought make Fable (most likely). Why didn't they just keep all their studios to begin with and give them
Because that's not how this business works. Lionhead's burn rate would have been tremendous. You could fix that by laying off a bunch of people but then the studio morale gets shot. It was probably a painful decision but one that was for the best. Anytime a studio gets bigger than 100 its a concern and if they dont deliver they are probably getting shutdown. To avoid this problem a lot of the bigger studios now just hire people on a per project basis which as a developer also sucks because there is absolutely no security.
 

OneBadMutha

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#30
In the Giant Bomb interview, Phil does candidly talk about how he had been promising this investment for a few years. He was aware of the eye rolls from the community every time he said it but it couldn’t happen until the company reorganization and “other things”. Confirms what I said before. Until he was promoted, his hands were tied. It makes sense to me now because in a corporation, departments have their own budgets and goals. Windows wasn’t going to approve major expenses when the profits weren’t going to be tied to them. It’s one of the disadvantages of being a division within a much larger company. The closer your department head is to the final decision maker, the better. I’ve seen that within my own company.

Now...onto this “major acquisition”. Was that a mis-speak...or is there really something out there that would be considered major? Who are the biggest Indies out there?

CD Project Red, Bungie, Platinum, Insomniac, Ready at Dawn and Obsidian are all I can think of. First 3 seem extremely unrealistic for differing reasons. Insomniac has expressed their desire to remain independent. Obsidian or Red Dawn?