Microsoft Acquires Havok; Will Still License Tech To Competitors

Alessio Palumbo
Posted 1 year ago

Microsoft surprised everyone yesterday by announcing the acquisition of Havok, the company behind the most widely used physics middleware in gaming, from Intel for an undisclosed amount as of yet.

If you’ve played video games in the last fifteen years or so, you should definitely be familiar with this logo, but in case you’re not, here’s a quick overview: Havok has been used in over 600 games so far. For example, the company congratulated the following upcoming titles which received a nomination for the Best of E3 2015 Awards, as all of them use the middleware in one way or another:

• Star Wars Battlefront – Electronic Arts
• Dark Souls III – BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment
• Fallout 4 – Bethesda Softworks
• Halo 5: Guardians – Microsoft Studios
• Horizon: Zero Dawn – Sony Computer Entertainment
• Just Cause 3 – Square Enix
• Need for Speed – Electronic Arts
• No Man’s Sky – Hello Games
• The Division – Ubisoft
• The Last Guardian – Sony Computer Entertainment
• Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege – Ubisoft
• Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End – Sony Computer Entertainment

According to the press release, Microsoft still intends to provide the technology to all licensed partners, including competitors like Sony and Nintendo. However, the most interesting part is where they mentioned adding Havok to the existing library of tools such as DirectX 12 and Microsoft Azure, and the press release explicitly talks about Crackdown 3; it most certainly isn’t a coincidence that this game aims to provide full physics destruction through the cloud.

Today, we are proud to announce that Microsoft has acquired Havok, the leading provider of 3D physics, from Intel.

As we welcome Havok to the Microsoft family, we will continue to work with developers to create great gaming experiences, and continue to license Havok’s development tools to partners. We believe that Havok is a fantastic addition to Microsoft’s existing tools and platform components for developers, including DirectX 12, Visual Studio and Microsoft Azure.

Havok is an amazing technology supplier in the games industry and the leading real-time physics creator. We saw an opportunity to acquire Havok to deliver great experiences for our fans. Throughout the company’s history, they’ve partnered with Activision, EA, Ubisoft, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and many others to create more than 600 games including Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, Destiny, Dark Souls and The Elder Scrolls.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Havok continues our tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world. We will continue to innovate for the benefit of development partners. Part of this innovation will include building the most complete cloud service, which we’ve just started to show through games like “Crackdown 3.”

Havok shares Microsoft’s vision for empowering people to create worlds and experiences that have never been seen before, and we look forward to sharing more of this vision in the near future.

The Havok middleware is comprised of the following components:

HAVOK PHYSICS™ – Example Game: The Last of Us

Havok Physics offers the fastest, most robust collision detection and physical simulation technology available, which is why it has become the gold standard within the games industry and has been used by leading game developers in over 400 launched titles and many more in development.

HAVOK DESTRUCTION™ – Example Game: The Last of Us

Havok Destruction is the cross-platform tool for simulation of rigid body destruction. Destruction gives the game artist total control over the simulation, drastically reducing the production time and cost of creating large numbers of believable destructible game objects. Havok Destruction can create a completely new gameplay experience by giving additional believability to structural mechanics, graphical effects, and game level design.


HAVOK FX™ – Example Game: Rainbow Six: Siege

Havok FX is a flexible effects solution for high performance particle physics and debris simulation systems.

HAVOK CLOTH™ – Example Game: Pro Evolution Soccer 2015

Havok Cloth is a platform-optimized runtime and toolset that dramatically increases the believability of game characters and environments. It allows character designers to go beyond simplistic, tight-fitting or hand-animated clothing, and to add believable, physically-based motion to garments like skirts, capes, shirts, trousers, and coats as well as other deformable items like hair, bellies, tails, flags, banners, curtains, and foliage. Havok Cloth is easily customizable and fits into today’s workflow without burdening artists, animators or programmers.

HAVOK AI™ – Example Game: Halo: Spartan Strike

Havok AI provides developers with an optimized cross-platform SDK to perform navigation mesh generation, adaptive pathfinding and path following for highly dynamic and destructible game environments. Havok AI is a navigation system designed for dynamic environment with physics and animation in mind. In addition to the core set of services such as ultra-fast navigation mesh generation, Havok AI provides a wide set of tools to support a wider range of game genres. Havok AI includes features such as navigation volumes, wall climbing support, streaming support, traversal analysis, dynamic cutting and many useful gameplay oriented features.

HAVOK ANIMATION STUDIO™ – Example Game: The Last of Us

Havok Animation Studio is a system for authoring complex hi-fidelity character animation. Havok Animation Studio includes an intuitive composition tool for artists and designers, and a run-time SDK for game programmers. Also included is the Havok Animation SDK and toolset, that provides a wide range of optimized runtime animation features such state-of-the-art compression of animation data, pose retargeting, inverse kinematics, and out-of-the-box integration with Havok Physics Together, the composition tool and SDK provide “what you see is what you get” results, accelerating development of cutting edge character performances for leading game titles.

HAVOK VISION ENGINE® – Example Game: SD Gundam Next Evolution

The Havok Vision Game Engine provides a powerful tool suite and versatile multi-platform runtime technology ideally suited for all types of games. Providing a extensible tool chain and well-designed, modular C++ API, the technology includes a variety of features to help you break through technical barriers, opening up a range of possibilities for game development.

HAVOK SCRIPT™ – Example Game: Call of Duty: Ghosts

Havok Script is a Lua compatible Virtual Machine designed for console game development. Havok Script is significantly faster than standard Lua and through a combination of internal optimizations and use of the Havok Script profiler, customers typically achieve a 2x speed improvement. Havok Script ships with Havok Script Studio, an integrated environment for Microsoft Visual Studio® and on-target profiler.

We’ll keep a close eye on Microsoft’s plans for Havok, so stay tuned.

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