Secretive Xbox studio The Initiative are working on new "and old things", says Spencer

By Sam Quirke,
The Initiative

One of the big questions hanging over Xbox Game Studios, along with Playground's mysterious RPG, is what newly founded "AAAA" studio The Initiative is actually working on. While we still have no idea what the game could be, a new tweet from Phil Spencer suggests things are going well. Some curious wording coupled with a 2018 interview has gotten people thinking that The Initiative might be working on reviving an old IP.

Now, we're taking this with a hefty pinch of salt – really, Phil could just be talking about the fact that the studio are looking at new ways to explore tried and tested gameplay concepts or archetypal game story themes. However, in an Inside Xbox interview back in 2018, Spencer talked a lot about past projects when discussing the Initiative and working with studio head Darrell Gallagher. He said that Gallagher "loved his time working on Lara Croft" at Crystal Dynamics, kind of reworking some of that franchise", and went on to say "we were talking about some things in our past that might be interesting."

It's this pairing of odd, unsolicited comments from Spencer that has fuelled speculation that The Initiative might in fact be working on reviving an older franchise. The question is, what? Is there really anything left in Xbox's back catalogue that deserves not only a reboot, but a reboot from Xbox's new flagship blockbuster studio? Forgive us, but Brute Force and Blinx just don't seem to fit that bill.

These days, of course, Xbox have more than just their OG IPs to draw on thanks to their acquisitions. We don't believe The Initiative would be taking on anything from the back catalogues of recently acquired studios, but there's always the eclectic library of long-time subsidiary Rare, who are far too busy jumping from one wild new IP idea to the next to concentrate on leveraging any of their legacy franchises.

Which leads us to Perfect Dark. Joanna could quite easily get a character overhaul in the same manner as Ms. Croft, though we'd question whether Rare's one-time shooter franchise is really on the same level as Tomb Raider in terms of cultural relevance.

There are other possibilities, of course, though Xbox Game Studios' combined back catalogue is surprisingly light on notable narrative-focused action-adventure that we suspect The Initiative has been assembled to create. Fable 4 is an outside shot, but we're still pretty convinced that that's what Playground Games are working on in their new studio. We have no idea what's left in the wreckage of Platinum Games' planned Xbox exclusive Scalebound, but that project just doesn't seem the right fit for a bunch of folks who worked on games like Tomb Raider and God of War.

There's one thing that we definitely shouldn't get our hopes up for, and that's Sunset Overdrive. While The Initative's design director Drew Murray was the director on Insomniac's open-world zombie-punk madhouse, Insomniac still owned the IP when they were officially absorbed into Sony Interactive Entertainment's Worldwide Studios. If we see any more Sunset Overdrives, expect them to be PS5 exclusives. There's little hope for BioWare's Jade Empire, either – the Mass Effect studio still owned the IP in 2007 when they were bought by EA.

What do you think of the possibility that The Initiative might be reviving an old franchise? Would you be happy to see The Initiative reignite some nostalgic hype, or would you prefer that they come up with something new? Let us know!

(Source: VGC)
Sam Quirke
Written by Sam Quirke
Sam has been a Newshound since 2016. He loves gaming on all devices and in all genres. He remains a stubborn Assassin's Creed and Pokémon fan.