Why it matters: Microsoft's first party exclusives for Xbox has been lacking. In response, the company bought four studios and create a fifth one in order to bring exclusive parity with Sony. This could pay off big in the long run when combined with the Xbox Game Pass.
Let's face it. First party exclusive titles haven't been the Xbox's strong point for this console generation. Sony has created hit after hit with games like God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Bloodborne that make the PlayStation 4 the best console you can buy if you care about exclusives. Microsoft seems keenly aware of that and at their E3 2018 press conference, announced that they have purchased four studios and created a totally new one for a total of five in an effort to make killer Xbox exclusives.
The studios being acquired by Microsoft are Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, and Complusion Games. The brand new studio is called The Initiative and is being led by Darrell Gallagher, who previously headed up Crystal Dynamics. Undead Labs and Playground Games were natural acquisions due to their work on State of Decay and Forza respectively. Ninja Theory was probably the surprise and it may lead to Xbox only sequels to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Devil May Cry.
“We are committed to building an industry leading first-party studios organization. And as you saw earlier, we are making one of our greatest single year investments in teams by adding five new creative studios,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. He went on to declare that Xbox will be always be the best place to experience gaming and hinted at a cloud gaming service and new Xbox consoles for the future.
For some people, the news of these acquisitions may be a case of “too little, too late”. However, Microsoft seems to be planting seeds for the next generation of consoles and hoping that these new studios will be able to fill the Xbox store with exclusives out the gate. Sony has a massive headstart and only time will tell if Microsoft will be able to compete. However, the $10 per month Xbox Game Pass could be the trojan horse Microsoft needs to undermine Sony.