At this year’s Xbox E3 Showcase, we saw Microsoft make some big moves announcing they acquired five developers, one of which was a brand new team based in Santa Monica: Playground Games (Forza Horizon series), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few, Contrast), Undead Labs (State of Decay series), The Initiative, and Ninja Theory (Heavenly Sword, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice).
The announcement got a lot of people excited about the future of the Xbox. Especially when the makers of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice are an in-house developer. Seeing a critically acclaimed studio under the Xbox banner. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, head of Microsoft Studios Matt Booty explains the reasoning behind acquiring a studio like Ninja Theory.
That reason is the Xbox subscription service Game Pass. Right now, the Game Pass features many of the Xbox One exclusives currently available with the promise of any new exclusive being available on the service on the day of its release. Acquiring a studio like Ninja Theory broadens the type of content that is available on Game Pass.
“When we start to think about Game Pass, what really is the driver for that content,” Booty asks while speaking with GamesIndustry.biz. When you think about our existing content as it relates to Game Pass… you can see that we’re fortunate to have some really large franchises, with Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Minecraft, Age of Empires… these are all well-established franchises.” He continues saying, “I use the world franchise deliberately, because these games are typically multi-platform, they have a presence off of Xbox, they have millions of players and iterations of the game going back a decade or more.
Booty also states that Microsoft believes that Game Pass is a great way for players to discover games they may have never tried. So why Ninja Theory? Booty explains, “An amazing thing about Ninja Theory is that it is very clear that the studio orbits around ideas and creativity, and the characters, storytelling, and settings really come first for them. That just meshes really well with our desire to provide our players, especially those in Game Pass, with content that is new, unique, has variety, and sits outside of the stuff we are doing with our bigger franchises.”
This notion can apply to all of the studios Microsoft acquired, as well. From zombie hunting with Undead Labs’ State of Decay 2 (which is currently available on Game Pass) to the open-world racing with Playground Games’ Forza Horizon 4, there are a variety of experiences to enjoy through Xbox Game Pass.
If you want to try out Xbox Game Pass for yourself, you can get a 14-day trial for free. If you end up liking the subscription service, you can currently get a month for $2; typically it is $9.99 a month.