Xbox is reportedly trialing the studios behind Tomb Raider, Hitman, and Just Cause with a mind to potential future acquisitions.
During the latest episode of the 'Grubb Snax podcast', GamesBeat's Jeff Grubb discussed Xbox’s plans for the next few years. After listing Xbox’s latest and upcoming releases, including Psychonauts 2, Deathloop, and Forza Horizon 5, Grubb points out the fact that he believes Xbox is happy with its upcoming slate and therefore is looking to try out some studios with the aim of potentially acquiring them in the future if all goes well.
"I think that’s where [Xbox] is at right now," Grubb explains, "where they’re happy with what they have so they can pump the brakes a little bit and then say 'okay, let’s take a look around - see what we can purchase.'"
The Podcast host then uses a few examples of studios he believes are being or will be "tried out" by Xbox; dropping Square Enix owned Crystal Dynamics (Rise of the Tomb Raider, Perfect Dark), IO Interactive (Hitman 3, Project 007), and Avalanche Studios (Just Cause 3, Contraband) into the discussion.
"Maybe that’s when [Xbox] will go and say 'okay, let’s bring Crystal Dynamics into work on this game with The Initiative,'" Grubb explains, "'let’s get to know them, see how it works, see how they play out and if they meet our standards, then we’ll say 'hey, Square Enix, are you interested in selling Crystal Dynamics?' I think that’s very likely what’s happening."
As for the other two studios, Grubb suspects that Avalanche is currently on a tryout as well as IO Interactive. "I think that’s what’s happening with Avalanche - the studio that is making Contraband - I think they’re on a tryout" Grubb mentions, "[Xbox] are working with IO Interactive, I think IO Interactive might be on tryout, I think that’s where they’re at right now where they’re happy with that."
It seems unlikely that Square Enix would be looking to sell one of its biggest Western studios, but it's more possible that Io and Avalanche could make the leap to become part of the Xbox ecosystem, especially with both Microsoft and Sony buying up plenty of studios recently. That said, until both parties have signed on the dotted line, anything can happen, so take this information with a pinch of salt.
To find out what else Xbox fans can look forward to, take a look at our list of upcoming Xbox Series X games.