Would more teams in current studios be better than creating new ones?

https://twitter.com/klobrille Thanks for the picture (everyone should follow him!)

So I was thinking about this to myself after seeing how many staff Xbox Game Studios is hiring at the moment, almost 180 people across 12 of their studios by the way. What do you guys think about building brand new studios vs building more teams within studios?

My theory is surely it would be better from a business standpoint to build teams within studios instead of having to continue to make more and more studios with the number of teams they’re going to need for Xcloud and Game Pass. Having a single studio with multiple teams within it is surely better than have a bunch of studios because the costs of having to organise them both surely would be more expensive right.

With a 1 studio multiple team scenario they can focus on 1 set of bookkeeping than having to look over 2 studios. Then again I’m no studio head or run a gaming business so I don’t know haha. So while it might look like there are only 15 XGS studios there are a lot more because some studios can have 2-3 studio-sized teams within the 1 studio, make sense?

What are you’re thoughts on the studio vs teams situation, do you think it’s best to have let’s say 15 studios with 2 teams in each studio or 30 studios with 1 team in each?

Not trying to cop-out here, but I think a little of both.

Xbox has three brilliant RPG studios, two great shooter ones, two top-shelf racing ones, a survival one, a few multigenre oddballs (Double Fine, Rare, Ninja Theory, Compulsion, Mojang), an emerging AAAA narrative studio and a publishing division with teams for other studios like World’s Edge.

I think when it comes to most genres they are covered, and so there is something to be said for expanding The Initiative over say, acquiring Remedy. It’s a long-term play but one that comes with immense creative control.

That said, there are other areas where the current in-house first party is lacking. Horror (barring Project Mara), simulation (MSFS is second party), fighting, party, platformer/metroidvania, beat em up, turn based and real time strategy (again, World’s Edge publishes), episodic adventure (although Double Fine is great at them when they make em), stealth and especially Japanese style action and JRPGs.

This leaves M.S. with three approaches for these genres:

  1. Publish games and sign exclusivity deals. This helps for devs that don’t want to be acquired or have additional restrictions like public listing (see Bloober and DONTNOD)

  2. Build a new studio or team which takes time but adds control. It helps if some common ground has been set (i.e. PlayGround games had 7 years of worldclass world design experience before starting an RPG team)

  3. Buy studios to fill the niches.

I think 3 is the easiest in the long-term, but I think if they want another RPG team/Racing team/3rd Person Shooter team/etc. it makes a ton of practical sense to expand existing studios as the managrment infrastructure is in place. It really just comes down to the third party gaps.

And please note, I am not criticizing MS for these gaps. Sony and Nintendo have ones just as big.


Excellent post! Echoes most of my feelings as well. Talent is not confined to known studios, Microsoft needs to be smart in making the well-managed studios work on a variety of projects, buy smaller studios with intriguing and innovative ideas, but also find third party deals (indie, AA or AAA it may be) for Game Pass to make the service more appetizing.


No idea if there’s a “right” balance of new teams in old studios, buying new studios, and establishing entirely new studios, but I think MS is doing a great job of it. I consider the new team at Playground to be as significant as any acquisition (and hell, they are building Fable so probably more significant than most!).

It’s good to give employees opportunities to move within their team, within their studio, or within MS as a whole, so I think having multi team studios is generally a benefit. Of course some may stay smaller, perhaps like Compulsion.

I don’t think that there’s a catchall solution, either of those could make more sense depending on a number of factors.

Haha, not a cop out at all!

Agree fully with this, they have a good chunk of game genres down packed.

Again nothing you’ve said so far is wrong imo haha I agree with all the things you are saying :slight_smile:

So again agree with you here too, I think you’re right they need to buy some new studios in the holes that are missing like Horror and stuff like JRPG’s. I think the best thing for them to do short term now is to publish some of these games and get exclusive deals while also working on building dedicated studios for these types of genres.

You make some really good points that I didn’t think about, the whole it doesn’t have to be one or the other it can be both haha. Maybe after they have acquired some more studios in other genres they don’t currently have studios building, then they could move in on the multiple studios per team.

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I’ve spoken to someone from Xbox about this and they’ve said staff are allowed to move freely between XGS teams which I find it cool. Imagine working on Forza Horizon one year and being given the chance to go work on Halo the next. I feel like XGS is going to become such a great place to work in and that alone will attract some really good talent.

I’ve heard that Microsoft itself has become an awesome environment to work in ever since Satya Nadella joined as CEO.

They seem to be doing the right thing so far and have added amazing teams already.

Only thing I would say is I hope they try and branch out to another IP with both Coalition and 343i, both studios feel like they need to stretch their creative muscle. Even the greatest teams will feel it eventually (Bungie) and we all know how that ends.

But yeh, a combination of new and older teams makes a lot of sense.

If you mean getting 343 to create a R6 style ODST vs Elites 4x4 tactical shooter, then yes I agree.

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What about a Halo horror game >:)

I think it depends on the studio. Some studios, like Obsidian, seem to thrive on having multiple projects/teams going at once, while other studios might suffer from the same concept. So, I think it should be up to the studio whether they want to or not.

As an example, if Turn10/Playground came to Booty and wanted to create a separate team to create a “Cart Racer”, I say you have to let them try. It would be the most “accurate” cart racer ever made. Perhaps even spawn a new genre Cart Racing Sim. :laughing:

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Pffft Turn 10 needs a new team to make a euro truck simulator :wink:



Obsidian - At least 3 teams Playground - At least 2 teams Double Fine - historically has worked on multiple projects at once Team Ninja - at least 3 teams Rare - At least two teams. Coalition - most likely multiple teams.

that’s a good chunk of existing studios already split into multiple groups.

343i definitely needs to go multiteam after the launch of Halo,if they really are turning Halo into a platform. Same with Turn 10 and Forza. If sequels are going away then they need to be working on a seperate IP once their games launch.

I think, as many said, both need to happen. Game Pass needs a steady influx of games. You need at least 1 first party title entering into Game Pass per month. Assume an average of three years development time once the engines are locked down. Minimum 36 teams needed to get to a point where one game per month by XGS or publishing to fill in gaps. AAA is cool but maybe 3-4 a year are all that is really needed. Even Playstation this generation only released 2-3 a year on average.

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I would play that. :smile:


100% agree with 343i going into multiple teams to make more than just FPS Halo, I seriously think there is a few genres where Halo could shine. Imagine a huge single player RPG set in the Halo world that’s not entirely focused on Chief but still cannon and could even have him pop in for a few quests or something.

Then you could have a space sci-fi horror game as a marine alone and stranded on a ring or ship being hunted by some new life form or something. How cool would that be haha.

Don’t most studios at most have 2 “AAA” internal studios, and anything beyond is usually for smaller projects? That would mean MS would cap out at around 30 studios, and not every studio may be capable, or want to run that big.

I think GP is going to require a massive expansion of first party studios for MS, so I think they need to looking to acquire top tier talent on a good price pretty much all the time. GP is going to need to constant content to really take off, otherwise if you just have a game or two a year people want you will run into a lot more people who just subscribe the month the game they want comes out and then promptly cancel once they finish it.

They don’t need to be looking to get giant studios, they can invest in smaller studios and expand, but MS should acquire at least 1-2 new studios every year for the foreseeable future.

Don’t know if it fits but I’d love to see World’s Edge take a stab at Halo Wars 3

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Before that I need a new Age of Mythology or at least a definitive edition.

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