Let's have a look at what all is rumored right now at Xbox Game Studios:
343- 343's last game was Halo 5 Guardians in late 2015. It was rumored that Halo 6 began development almost immediately after Halo 5 released on the Halo 5 engine, but was cancelled a few months later and the Halo 5 writer replaced with a new writer, after the story of Halo 5 was so heavily criticized by game critics and series fans. Halo Infinite then began development alongside the new Slipspace engine. We're looking at 4+ years of development if the game releases on schedule later this year and isn't delayed by the devs needing to work from home due to coronavirus. So far it seems like 343 is making all the right decisions to win back classic Halo fans. Classic designs are back again instead of the revamped designs that 343 did for 4 and 5, there is teasing that Chief will save Cortana, classic music is used in the trailers, all good signs.
The Coalition- The Coalition released Gears 5 in 2019. The game got pretty good critic reviews, but user reviews were lower, and the games sales and multiplayer legs seem to be lackluster for the series. The head of the The Coalition, Rod Fergusson, recently left for Blizzard, so we can expect the new head of the studio to be announced soon. The leadership shakeup might be just what the studio needs to get Gears back on track again. Currently, it is rumored that Coalition has a smaller secondary team who is assisting The Initiative with their AAA game, possibly doing the multiplayer mode for their game. It's likely we won't see Gears 6 until at least 2022, possibly even longer depending on how much of a directional change we see for the series and how much they decide to polish it.
Compulsion- Since MS acquired Compulsion in 2018, alot of their time was spent on finishing We Happy Few and it's DLC. Development on their next game, a new IP, seems to have begun this year, with the studio hiring a new writer for the project in January. We don't know much about the IP, other than that they have been expanding some for the project, they had 40 devs when MS acquired them, they are up to 50 now with 4 more job listings open. We Happy Few had promise, but was over ambitious for their small team size and was rushed out before it was ready. With MS funding, a larger team size, and a planned development cycle of at least 3 years, I have hopes that their new IP will be a success.
Double Fine- Double Fine is a bit of a dark horse, as we have no idea what they are working on other than Psychonauts 2, but they are most likely working on something else, as they have had multiple games in development at the same time for most of their life as a studio. Many hope for a Brutal Legend sequel, as Tim Schafer has mentioned a sequel 3 times this decade, in 2013 that he hoped he would be able to get enough funding for Brutal Legend 2, in 2015 he said he thought he would be able to develop Brutal Legend 2 if Psychonauts 2 was a success, and mentioned again in 2017 that they still wanted to do a sequel to it. With Microsoft's budget, they might finally be able to make a sequel.
The Initiative- Since Microsoft opened The Initiative in 2018, headed up by former Crystal Dynamic's head Darrel Gallagher, they've been expanding quite slowly towards their eventual AAA size, after almost 2 years they are at just 42 employees. The reason for the slow growth? They have been carefully handpicking people for lead and senior positions who have AAA experience at some of the most successful AAA studios, like Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, Rockstar, Bioware, Crystal Dynamics, and more. Most of the lead and senior positions are filled now, and it is expected that they will start expanding much more quickly once the only positions left to fill are entry level positions. It is rumored that MS has had their other 1st party studios assisting The Initiative with development grunt work while they have been expanding so slowly, most notably The Coalition. As for what they are working on, all we know for sure is that it is AAA with a heavy focus on story, with MS even describing the game with a AAAA buzzword at points, indicating that it is planned to be large and ambitious with a very high budget. Phil Spencer in an E3 2018 mentioned that Darrel Gallagher had looked at Microsoft's catalog of dormant IP's and was possibly interested in reviving a certain one of them, leading to speculation that The Initiative is developing a story drive 3rd person action adventure reboot of Perfect Dark, due Darrel Gallagher's experience with rebooting Tomb Raider. We know they plan to announce their game this year, but with how slowly they've been expanding we may not see the game release until 2022 or later.
inXile- inXile's next game, Wasteland 3, will release in August, but was a pre-existing contract with Deep Silver. Their next game after that will be their 1st MS exclusive. They have been expanding since MS acquired them, from 70 devs up to 97 so far, with 2 open positions currently. Job listings describe their next game as a AAA singleplayer RPG built on Unreal 4, with rumors suggesting the game will be 3rd person rather than isometric. With the game not beginning full development until later this year, it is likely that we won't see it release until 2022 or 2023.
Mojang- Not much is known about what Mojang is working on besides Minecraft Dungeons and updates for the original Minecraft.
Ninja Theory- Ninja Theory currently has 120 devs, but seems to have alot of teams, at least 3 currently if not more. The first, and largest team, is currently developing Hellblade 2. Hellblade 1 was developed in 3 years with just 20 developers, Ninja Theory has announced that the team working on Hellblade 2 is twice that size, 40 developers. The 2nd team of 15-25 people developed Bleeding Edge and will likely be supporting it with DLC for at least the rest of this year I would guess, after that it's anyone's guess what this team will work on. A 3rd team is developing Project Mara, the first game in Ninja Theory's Insight Project psychiatric research project, a collaboration with a University of Cambridge psychiatrist. The project is a collection of smaller games said to be designed to help people control negative emotions. Project Mara is a psychological horror game, designed to depict the real life horrors that people with psychosis experience as accurately as possible. With 120 devs total, 40 on Hellblade 2, 15-25 on Bleeding Edge, and Project Mara said to be a smaller game, it is highly likely that Ninja Theory has at least 1 other small team working on a 4th game currently, possibly 2 more small teams.
Obsidian Entertainment- After releasing The Outer Worlds last year, all of Obsidian's pre-acquisition contracts have been fulfilled. Obsidian currently has 202 devs split across 3 teams, with 31 open positions. The largest team is rumored to have been working on a AAA 3D Pillars of Eternity game that plays alot like Skyrim since 2018 I believe, if true that game will likely be announced soon. The 2nd largest team developed The Outer Worlds, and it is rumored that they are currently working on DLC for the first game and a sequel, with plans to keep the team size at large AA levels. The 3rd team, of just 12 developers, is developing Grounded, the Honey I Shrunk the Kids inspired singleplayer/multiplayer backyard survival game.
Playground Games- Playground now has 2 main studios, with a 3rd smaller studio who assists the other two. The first is their original studio, focused on the Forza Horizon franchise, the most critically acclaimed racing franchise of this generation with multiple games winning Racing GOTY awards. The first studio has been expanding with plans to eventually reach 200+ devs, and it is looking like their next game will have at least 3 years of development with a release Fall/Holiday 2021 (all previous Forza Horizon games were developed in 2 years. The increased dev team size and extra year of development should mean they are developing the largest, most ambitious, most polished Forza Horizon game yet. The 2nd studio was founded in 2017, and is an RPG studio. The RPG studio has been expanding slowly, much like The Initiative, mainly hiring top tier AAA devs who previously worked at some of the most successful AAA studios in the industry. The RPG studio is aiming for 200+ devs eventually, and growth is expected to ramp up significantly soon, at both studios, with 79 open job listings currently across both studios. As for what they are developing, most rumors point to a Fable reboot. Release will likely be in 2021 or 2022, as even though their expansion has been slow, much like The Initiative, it is rumored that other MS 1st party studios have been assisting them with development grunt work while they have been slowly expanding.
Rare- Rare currently has 246 devs split across at least 2 teams (possibly more), with 15 open job positions. We know they have one team working on ongoing Sea of Thieves content, and another developing Everwild, which seems to be a large AA or small AAA game. It is rumored that they may have a 3rd team as well, but there aren't many rumors about what that 3rd team is developing.
Turn 10 Studios- Turn 10 currently has 132 developers with 11 open positions (compare this to 100 developers in 2014). While that may seem small by AAA standards, it is worth noting that Turn 10 contracts out alot of car modeling to independent contractors, so there are more than just their permanent employees working on their games. Historically, Turn 10's Forza Motorsport games have only gotten 2 years of development, but Turn 10 have been taking their time with Forza Motorsport 8, carefully listening to fan feedback while developing it. If Forza Motorsport 8 releases as an XSX launch title this holiday as rumored, it will have 3 years of development, 1 more than prior Forza Motorsport games.
Undead Labs- Undead currently has 86 developers with no open positions, compared to 60 developers in 2016 when State of Decay 2 was in development. It is rumored that they are developing State of Decay 3 currently, as a large AA or small AAA project. There was some talk about the game being an online game at one point, but they seem to have scaled back on that plan now and are settling for singleplayer/co-op, much like the first 2 games.
World's Edge- Microsoft's newest studio, created internally at Xbox Game Studios in Redmond Washington to assist Relic with Age of Empires 4 and eventually take over the franchise, bringing it wholly internal. Not much is known about their current team size, but it's safe to say that MS is likely aiming for large AA or small AAA.
Xbox Game Studios Global Publishing- Not a 1st party studio, but rather Microsoft's 2nd party division, tasked with publishing games which are developed by studios that MS doesn't own. According to a recent interview, MS has quite a few unannounced 2nd party games in development which they are quite proud of and excited about. Given the fact that MS had some pretty cool 2nd party projects this gen (Sunset Overdrive, ReCore, Quantum Break, Ryse, D4, Crimson Dragon, etc., I have high hopes for the future of Microsoft's 2nd party efforts.
Last edited by shikamaru317 - on 08 April 2020
And remember, that MS is rumored to be aiming for at least 3 years of development across all of those studios and teams.