Microsoft’s newly formed first-party studio The Initiative has added a former Rockstar Games developer to its roster, possibly hinting at the sort of games we can expect.
Former Rockstar technical director Tom Shepherd has joined The Initiative, presumably in the same role, as a job listing for the same position was recently removed from the Microsoft website. Shepherd previously worked as technical director on Grand Theft Auto V and Max Payne 3, as well as multiplayer lead on Red Dead Redemption. Clearly, Shepherd knows his way around massive open-world games, which could mean that Microsoft is looking for a new first-party open-world action title to follow Crackdown 3‘s release in February.
In addition to Shepherd, The Initiative has already started assembling some major talent, starting with former Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher as its own studio head. Its current roster, according to LinkedIn, includes a God of War producer, a former recruiter from Respawn Entertainment, and a lead writer from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Unfortunately, it sounds like the studio is still hiring for major positions, so don’t expect a new game from them anytime soon.
The Initiative is one of five new first-party studios that Microsoft announced at E3 2018, but it’s the only one being built from the ground up. Along with The Initiative, Microsoft acquired Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, and Compulsion Games, and reports have circulated that its on the verge of acquiring Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment to work on a new RPG.
Whether or not we’ll see a new game from these studios before Xbox launches its new Project xCloud streaming service is unclear, though releasing a new open-world first-party game from a new Microsoft Studio to coincide with the service’s launch seems like the smart thing to do. After all, one of Microsoft’s major motivations for acquiring these studios was to make subscription-based Xbox Game Pass more appealing by adding even more first-party titles in its library, according to Microsoft Studios head Matt Booty. The same could be said for xCloud when its public test kicks off in 2019.
Source: The Inner Circle