Ninja Theory Joined Microsoft Studios for Creative Independence and Support

Ninja Theory Joined Microsoft Studios for Creative Independence and Support

Ninja Theory wants to make cool games, and Microsoft wants to let them.

Ninja Theory, the studio behind the critically-acclaimed Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, is now part of Microsoft. Ninja Theory seemingly anticipated its fans' resounding "Why?", and it's already put together a video explaining its reasons for the transition.

Tameem Antoniades, Ninja Theory's "Chief Creative Ninja," lays things out flat early in the video. "About four years ago, we nearly disappeared as a company," he says. "Dozens, if not hundreds of developers like us were closing shop all around us, and we were told there was no future for developers like us: Too big to be indie, too small to be triple-A."

To survive, Ninja Theory took on work-for-hire projects that helped fund projects like Hellblade. It was difficult, but Hellblade was born, and it sold "way beyond" Ninja Theory's expectations. Ninja Theory hoped similar successes would let it become creatively independent within five to eight years—but then Microsoft approached the team.

"They asked us what our goals and ambitions were," Antoniades says. "We said we want to be free from the triple-A machine and make games focused around the experience, not monetization. We want to take bigger risks and create genre-defining games without the constant threat of annihilation.

"In short, we asked for full creative independence."

Surprisingly, Microsoft granted Ninja Theory's wish. It also offered its marketing team and other resources to let the team "do more of what they want, however they want to do it."

Microsoft is definitely in console development for the long run, and its recent spur of studio acquisitions (it announced several at its E3 2018 presentation) indicates it's serious about making sure the next Xbox has a steady supply of what it's lacking most right now: Killer console exclusives.

Microsoft has its work cut out for it. How about everyone else in this busy, busy industry? How are they faring? hop over to our E3 2018 guide for everything you need to know about the show.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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