Xbox says it expects to see more studios outside the traditional game dev hubs in the next three to five years. In an interview with The Guardian, Xbox’s Phil Spencer together with Matt Booty, head of Xbox Games Studios discussed among many things, the future direction that game development might take.
Spencer said you can expect Microsoft to acquire a studio outside traditionally known game development hubs. The interviewer, Keith Stuart, specifically asked whether the software giant might purchase a studio in India, Africa or South America, but Spencer did not mention these places by name, instead focusing on the potential talent that could be found worldwide.
“Does this mean Microsoft might purchase a studio in India, Africa, or South America?” asked The Guardian. “It would actually surprise me if that doesn’t happen,” replied Spencer.
“Just knowing the talent that’s available, and the tools [such as game engines Unity and Unreal] that are so much more accessible … I would be surprised if in the next three to five years, you don’t see numerous studios in places that aren’t the traditional hubs of video game development,” Spencer added.
Booty met Spencer’s response with agreement saying there should be big studios to be found representing every territory and that they should be building new things not just serving as a satellite team for outsourcing and support, as is so often the case with studios in those areas.
“There should be a several-hundred-person studio [in one of these territories],” he said. “And not for outsourcing or support, but a team building whatever the version of the best blockbuster game may be for that market. That is very much the vision.”
While triple-A, blockbuster games aren’t the end-all and be-all of the industry, Booty’s comments are welcome in an industry that struggles with diversity. While some of the biggest developers put in their best effort to present diverse worlds and characters, there are limits to the perspective thanks to leadership demographics and geographic location.
Some would point to subsidiaries of developers like Rockstar and Ubisoft located in India, Singapore and the Philippines as examples of studios outside game dev hubs. But examples like those are of support studios delivering assets and art or providing support to a main studio in a city like New York or Montreal that retains exclusive authorship over the direction of their games.
No offense to the good work being delived by these studios, but invoking them misses the point of Booty and Spencer’s remarks, which is that if videogames are to expand their audience around the world they will need new stories and new experiences that can only be imagined by new talent.