Earlier this summer during its pre-E3 showcase in Los Angeles, Microsoft made a few surprise announcements. One of the particularly best ones was the confirmation that the company has added Ninja Theory, the developers of DmC: Devil May Cry and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, to its internal fold, while still allowing the company to be run independently.
While it’s a huge asset to Microsoft’s team, a few folks were wondering why it made the acquisition. Well, thanks to an interview with GamesIndustry International, head of Microsoft Studios Matt Booty provided a better perspective.
"When we start to think about Game Pass, what really is the driver for that is content. 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 explained. “I use the word franchise deliberately, because these games are typically multi-platform, many of them have a presence off of Xbox, they have millions of players and iterations of the game going back a decade or more.
"At the other end of the spectrum, we've got the ID@Xbox program, which is bringing in hundreds of new games from smaller indies. We've had a lot of success there. But both of those leave a little bit of a gap in terms of variety and also cadence of content.”
He continued, "We believe that Game Pass is fantastic for our players because of the ability to discover games and the chance to circle back on games that they missed when they first came out. They're also being exposed to things that, because it's available on Game Pass, they might like to try and maybe become a fan of. We think that what drives a lot of that is variety and creativity. So when we think about: 'Why Ninja Theory?' They really just fit into that category of developers that's getting harder and harder to sustain in the industry. A developer that is right on the cusp of large AAA content, making very well-crafted content. I don't think we'd use indie to describe Ninja Theory. But at the same time, it's not the same as a studio that has multiple hundreds of people working on the next iteration of a AAA franchise, like a Halo.
"We started looking at studios that are built around creative leads and people. 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."
As for whether the company will be adding more studios to the fold, Booty explained, “I don't want to seem like we're going out to fill a quota. It's not about filling a spreadsheet by any means. We will, however, have an interest in studios right now that fit this criteria of 50 to 100 people, who are making games on a two to three year cadence, and have content that we think will be of interest to our Game Pass subscribers. That means content that is a little different to what our big AAA franchises can deliver.0comments
"One of the fantastic things about Game Pass is that it can support different kinds of content."
We’ll see what Microsoft has planned for Ninja Theory in the year ahead. But for now, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is well worth checking out. You can play it now on Xbox One, as well as PlayStation 4 and PC.