MICROSOFT HAS SUCKED up a clutch of game studios, created a brand new studio called 'The Initiative', and expanded its game streaming service in a bid to stick two fingers up at Sony's PlayStation 4.
At E3 2018, Phil Spencer, Xbox's big boss, revealed that Redmond's gaming division Microsoft Studios has snapped up Playground Games, the studio behind the newly revealed Forza Horizon 4, Undead Labs, a firm working on a zombie survival games, Compulsion Games, the folks being We Happy Few, and Ninja Theory, a studio shot into widespread claim after its game Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice tackled mental health through dark Norse tale.
All these studios will help boost the number of exclusive Xbox One titles for the for the brand to plonk under its banner. But Microsoft is clearly trying to push its development potential further with the creation of another studio dubbed The Initiative.
There's no word on what The Initiative will be working on, but it's headed up by games industry veteran Darrell Gallagher, so should be capable of knocking out something decent.
For a while, the Xbox One had lagged behind the PlayStation 4 in producing exclusive titles and subsequently seemed to lose ground to Sony's games console. Now, with more studios under its belt, the Xbox One could be set for a proper comeback.
To further this cause, Spencer noted Microsoft is also working on a new streaming service for the Xbox that will use Redmond's cloud reach to pipe games to not only Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs but also phones.
"Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console gaming on any device," said Spencer.
Essentially, the new service looks to be a streaming version the Xbox Game Pass that provided access to some major titles on Xbox One consoles for a monthly fee; think Netflix for Xbox games, only with the need to download the games rather than stream them.
Speaking of Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft is applying its machine learning ethos into the service. Called FastStart, the new Game Pass feature will use smart algorithms to figure out what files and data a game needs to start up and prioritise their downloading, meaning people can start playing the game before it has fully downloaded.
So the Xbox looks to have had a pretty decent E3, with the promise of a suite of exclusive games to come and features that make Xbox One gaming more pleasurable and spread further afield. But time will tell if the Xbox One can make up for the ground it lost to the PlayStation 4 during its formative 2013 and 2014 years. µ
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