In the run up to the Xbox Series X launch, which will happen on November 10th, Microsoft has been making huge moves in the gaming world. Their main focus has been building a huge arsenal of first party studios to make top games for the platform. Recently they acquired ZeniMax, parent company of Bethesda, for $7.5 billion. Now they have been poaching developers from their competition for their new Santa Monica based studio.
The new studio, The Initiative, is based is Santa Monica and is close to the Naughty Dog studio, the studio responsible for games such as The Last Of Us 2 and the Uncharted series’. Lauren Garcia, who worked as the Character Shading Technical Director on The Last Of Us 2, has joined The Initiative as the Studios Senior Shader Technologies Developer. Taking to Twitter, Mr Garcia announced the news saying that The Initiative is “is an incredible team working on something truly special.”
The first game from the new studio has yet to be announced but Phil Spencer has stated that it will be a reboot of a classic franchise. Looking at Microsoft owned IP’s, the likely culprits are Perfect Dark, Kameo, Conker, or Banjo-Kazooie (all Rare titles). It is possible it could be Binx too, which would be great to see and a huge blast from the past.
Garcia isn’t the only Naughty Dog developer to be hired by The Initiative, Sound Designer Jordan Denton and Designer Robert Ryan have also jumped shipped in recent months. It is interesting considering The Last Of Us 2 was the PS4’s swan song and a video game masterpiece, yet multiple developers have jumped ship to Xbox rather than continuing their work at Naughty Dog.
The Naughty Dog devs also join a stacked line-up of developers at The Initiative. Brian Westergaard, most known for his work on the God of War series, joined as Direction of Production. Rockstar veteran Tom Shpherd and Red Dead Redemption writer Christian Cantamessa have also joined the studio, as well as other former employees of Xbox, 343 Industries, and Crystal Dynamics.
With a studio full of some of the highly regarded developers in the US, The Initiative’s first game for the Xbox Series X is set to be a great one.