Back in 2018 during Microsoft’s E3 conference, Phil Spencer went on stage and announced five new studios. Four were acquisitions; Playground Games, Compulsion Games, Ninja Theory, and Undead Labs. Those four studios were already made studios and had already released games. The Initiative was the only studio announced that was in pre production per se. They were going to be built from the ground up. According to Spencer, The Initiative was “building a team of world class talent to create groundbreaking new game experiences.”
Since the announcement of this studio, we still don’t know much about them, except the talent they have hired. According to VGC, the studio has hired approximately 27 people. The collective resumes of those hired is impressive to say the least.
Talent includes Kai Zheng, Ian Miller, Brain Westergaard, Ray Yeomans, and Chris O’Neill who were all devs on 2018’s critically acclaimed God of War. Drew Murray was a lead designer on the excellent Sunset Overdrive. Robert Ryan is a senior designer who was previously employed by excellent studios Motive and Naughty Dog. Christian Cantamessa was hired as a narrative assistant and worked on 2018’s critically acclaimed Red Dead Redemption 2. Tom Sherpherd was hired as a technical director and worked on GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2.
That’s just to name a few of the talented people currently employed by The Initiative, and they’re still hiring. Now, this isn’t to say that it’s guaranteed that this studio is guaranteed to make a game as great as the games the individual talents worked on. Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, Sunset Overdrive, and GTA 5 are some of the best action and narrative games this generation.
To match those heights wouldn’t be fair to ask of a brand new studio, no matter the pedigree. But it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities nonetheless. Imagining what a brand new team is capable of is one of the exciting parts of being a fan. Anything is possible when you have this much talent, and a brand new studio built for Xbox with the goal to create great AAA games is just what Xbox needs.
The studio is small and still growing. We probably won’t know what the team is working on for a while. But the start is exciting, let’s hope the talent assembled can build a great game.