Rumor: Microsoft In The Process Of Acquiring New Game Studios For Next-Gen Console

IO Interactive in the running, Asobo Studio looking to go AAA.
A huge leak coming from NeoGAF apparently details the entirety of Microsoft's presentation at E3 2019.
A huge leak coming from NeoGAF apparently details the entirety of Microsoft's presentation at E3 2019. Microsoft

As part of a bigger push to obtain and develop more IPs, Microsoft has recently been in the market for game studios to pad its catalog of original titles. This is looking more and more like the best idea they have had in a while, and heading into the next generation of consoles, this is looking like this should be their game plan moving forward.

I have outlined this sentiment more than a month ago, when I stated that one of the best ways that Microsoft can beat Sony in the upcoming generation of consoles is to release more first-party exclusives. Matching or even besting the specs provided by Sony for the PS5 could work in Microsoft's favor, but in the long run, the only good reason to buy a console is its library of games.

It looks like Microsoft is indeed taking this sentiment to heart, as evidenced by the recent leak provided by user Braldyr on NeoGAF. While the bulk of the post is rumor and speculation attributed to games and titles on Microsoft’s slate for E3 2019, a smaller section mentions the possible studios Microsoft is looking to, or is in the process of, acquiring. As with all rumors and speculations, take everything noted with a big grain of salt.

Studios approached/in the process of being purchased

According to the leak, these are some of the rumored studios that Microsoft either approached or is already deep in talks to purchase.

  • IO Interactive – best known for their Hitman series. This Danish developer based in Copenhagen has a history with Microsoft, with a partnership cancelled due to a game that never came to fruition back in 2010. The developer has recently found independence as well, with the rights to their Hitman series reverting back to them after their dissolution from Square Enix through Eidos Interactive, now known as Square Enix Europe. According to the leak, a letter of intent has already made its way a few months ago to the studio according to the NeoGAF poster's sources. That said, IO Interactive has recently expanded as well, getting offices in Sweden to form a subsidiary, IOI Malmo.
  • Relic Entertainment – this one is a bit trickier. Relic is a Canadian developer based in Vancouver, and is probably best known for their expertise in real-time strategy titles such as Homeworld, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War and Company of Heroes. Back in 2017, Microsoft announced that they hired Relic to develop the upcoming Age of Empires IV. According to the leak, Microsoft wants a studio dedicated solely to RTS titles, and Relic Entertainment ticks all the right boxes. The only problem, though, is that Sega currently owns the developer, although a buy-out is possible between Sega and Microsoft, if the latter is persuasive enough.
  • Asobo Studio – after the release and consequent critical acclaim for their latest title A Plague Tale: Innocence, I believe that Asobo Studio is the next big developer to keep an eye on. The leak just states that they are currently in talks with Microsoft. Such an acquisition could be great for the publisher, as Asobo has proved itself capable of handling a title on the same scale as a AAA release, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.

Studios that aren’t happening at all

Braldyr goes on to clarify that the rumors surrounding two studios being picked up by Microsoft are untrue. The studios in question are CD Projekt RED, developer of the The Witcher series and the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, and Creative Asssembly, best known for their Total War series.


These are the studios which are currently rumored to be in talks with Microsoft, although the poster knows nothing about it.

  • Bluepoint Games – an American independent video game company best known for their work with Sony on remastering some of its titles, such as the Uncharted franchise, the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and the remake of Shadow of the Colossus. While it doesn’t make sense for Microsoft to be in talks with a studio with a close working relationship to Sony, there have been rumors for quite some time now that Microsoft has been talking with a studio that had a strong history with Sony in the past, and Bluepoint certainly fits the bill. Besides, Bluepoint would be a fantastic investment, seeing as Microsoft needs a dedicated remastering studio for its backlog of classic titles, a role which Bluepoint can fill.
  • PlatinumGames – I have a harder time believing this, because of how well Platinum’s relationship with Nintendo has been going. The poster also included this legendary Japanese studio due to the recent statements made by the studio’s lead Atsushi Inaba, in which he vindicated Microsoft for most of the blame that fell on the publisher after the cancellation of Scalebound, a title Platinum and Microsoft worked together on for the Xbox line of consoles. While this buyout seems very unlikely, I wouldn’t rule out a partnership of sorts in the future, possibly to revive Scalebound for a new generation of consoles.
  • 4A Games – the Ukrainian-Maltese developer best known for the Metro series is also in the mix. This would make sense even as a rumor as Metro has its roots in the Xbox 360 days, where it spent most of its marketing and fan-building. The poster then goes on to state that the acquisition is not a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when’; regardless of the announcements made at E3 2019, it would not be surprising if the studio does get picked up at some point.

Stay tuned for more of our coverage once it drops and some of these studios ultimately get confirmed or debunked. For the full list of rumors, check it out here.

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