Playground: Our RPG Influenced the Deal with Microsoft; We’re Looking for Success in Another Genre

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Nov 15, 2018
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Just ahead of E3 2018, a rumor began circulating regarding the potential acquisition of Playground Games by Microsoft. It all turned out to be true when Phil Spencer announced that Playground was indeed being acquired alongside Ninja Theory, Compulsion Games and Undead Labs.

In an interview appeared on EDGE (Christmas 2018, issue 326), a few Playground executives explained that the open world RPG project being developed by the second team definitely influenced Microsoft’s decision, as well as their own, to go forward with the deal.

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Ralph Fulton (Chief Creative Officer) – [It] definitely influenced our decision, and Xbox’s decision, to take this step together. It wouldn’t take a genius to work out that they were both with Xbox. The amount of content we’re going to be bringing to the family was a crucial factor, there.

Gavin Raeburn (Studio Director) – We felt we’d achieved success in racing, and wanted to continue that – we love the genre. But we felt that if we wanted to really make a milestone for the studio, we should look for success in a different genre as well. Again it made sense to partner with Microsoft, and they were really supportive.

Fulton went ahead to talk a little bit of the second team, which is due to move to another office close by in January 2019. The idea is that there will continue to be a very tight relationship between the internal teams.

It’s incredibly important to us that they don’t become siloed off from each other. I joke about it being five minutes walk, but that is a significant distance in how it affects the working relationships and knowledge sharing.

We’re going to work really hard to make sure there are still strong ties between those two teams right across each team, to make sure we are sharing best practices, offering guidance and advice wherever either team can. Because our strength comes from that communication and it will make both teams better. I do think it’s a very good idea that, for the first year or so of that team’s life, they’ve been here. They’ve spent time bonding within the overall culture of Playground.

Fulton also briefly discussed the benefits they’ve already seen of being inside Microsoft Game Studios rather than outside.

We could talk to other studios, but it had to be filtered, you had to go through certain channels. If we wanted to find out about new technology or initiatives that were coming through, there was a time and a place for that to happen, and it was usually just behind the curve. Now that we’re a first party studio, I can pick up the phone and dial out to 343 Studios, The Coalition, Ninja Theory – we can start talking about technology, tools, all of those conversations are easy to have.

And hopefully, we can get involved with future planning for consoles and other initiatives. Even though not a great deal of time has passed since the acquisition – just before E3, end of May – there are already things we’ve had disclosed to us that we didn’t know.

The open world RPG is rumored to be none other than a reboot of the Fable franchise. We won’t get any concrete details about the project for quite some time, though.

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