Friday, 22 Sep 2023

Undead Labs' New Studio Is "Not Directly Affiliated" With Xbox Game Studios [Update]

Update: In an effort to clarify how Undead Labs’ recently announced studio fits with the family of Xbox Game Studios, a Microsoft spokesperson has issued the following statement: “Jeff’s vision to increase access and expand opportunities for game development jobs and skills is an independent project. While not directly affiliated, Xbox Game Studios shares his vision for empowerment through games and are eager to support him in his efforts.” Our original story continues below.

State of Decay developer Undead Labs is opening a new studio. Currently unnamed, the new studio will be located in New Orleans, Louisiana and will be partnered with a broad-discipline game development academy.

“Game development needs a bigger base, where the know-how, grit, and ideas of even more people can find their way to the public,” Undead Labs writes in a blog post. “As a small-town guy himself, [Undead Labs studio head and founder Jeff Strain] is dedicated to opening a new studio and a partnered broad-discipline game development academy in New Orleans, Louisiana. With the support of Xbox and Microsoft, Jeff’s going to continue in his role as studio head at Undead Labs while also building opportunities to bring in people who might not otherwise consider a career in the game industry.”

During E3 2018, Microsoft announced it had acquired four studios and established another in order to get the ball rolling on new first-party titles for Xbox One and Xbox Series X (then codenamed Project Scarlett). Undead Labs was one of the four studios that had been acquired, alongside Forza Horizon’s Playground Games, We Happy Few’s Compulsion Games, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’s Ninja Theory. The newly created studio is called The Initiative.

Since then, we’ve slowly learned what each of these five studios is doing for the Xbox brand. Playground Games is hard at work on a brand-new game, rumored to be Fable 4. Compulsion Games finished up We Happy Few with one final expansion, We All Fall Down. Ninja Theory is developing the multiplayer-focused Bleeding Edge for Xbox One and PC, and single-player-focused Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II for Xbox Series X and PC. The Initiative has accrued a large amount of notable talent and is in the playtesting phase of its new game. Undead Labs hasn’t officially revealed what it’s working on, though the aforementioned blog post does seem to suggest the studio is working on the next State of Decay.

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