Microsoft unveils new Vancouver game studio

Microsoft has lifted the veil on a Vancouver studio that is developing a new game franchise. But if it is being earmarked for work on ...

Microsoft has lifted the veil on a Vancouver studio that is developing a new game franchise. But if it is being earmarked for work on the highly anticipated new Xbox console, Microsoft isn't saying. 

Microsoft Studios quietly began assembling a team of engineers and animators for Black Tusk Studios earlier this year, and publicly announced the new project this morning.

Located in Yaletown, Black Tusk Studios already has a staff of 50 people and the new studio manager – former Electronic Arts senior development director Mike Crump – said the plans are to double the head count over the next year.

Black Tusk is the third studio that Microsoft has opened or acquired in B.C. It opened a new studio in Victoria in January, and owns BigPark Studios in Vancouver.

Black Tusk will be a first-party developer, meaning it will produce games solely for Microsoft.

Crump said Black Tusk will be focused on developing a single, new "triple-A" game. Other big Microsoft titles include Halo and Gears of War.

Crump would not say whether the new title is designed specifically for the new Xbox, which has been the subject of rumour for years now, and which is expected to be launched about a year from now.

"I can't talk about what Microsoft's platform plans are," Crump said. "I can tell you that we are working on stuff that's pushing the edge, technologically."

The new Xbox 360 console has been dubbed the 720 and has been the subject of considerable rumours on tech and game blogs.

Nintendo's launch of the Wii U earlier this month marked the first new game console to hit the market in six years. Both Sony and Microsoft are expected to follow suit with new Playstation and Xbox consoles.

See next week's print edition of Business in Vancouver for more on Microsoft's new studio.

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv

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