Microsoft Renames Its Game Studios to Xbox Game Studios

Posted on February 6, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Games, iOS, Mobile, Windows 10, Xbox One with 8 Comments

In an abrupt shift from its current branding strategy, Microsoft is renaming Microsoft Studios to Xbox Game Studios.

“We are changing the name of our game development organization from Microsoft Studios to Xbox Game Studios,” Microsoft corporate vice president Matt Booty writes. “Xbox Game Studios is made up of 13 distinct game development teams responsible for beloved franchises like Age of Empires, Forza, Gears of War, Halo, and Minecraft.

As you may know, Microsoft, like other tech giants, has undergone a years-long effort to deemphasize product brands like Windows and Office in favor of its corporate brand. For example, Windows Azure was renamed to Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft 365 is supplanting Office 365.

But this is a shift in the opposite direction, and most likely indicates that Microsoft understands that its corporate name is, if not toxic in the gaming world, is at least less well-known and beloved than Xbox. And this change will help it market a new Xbox that is heterogeneous, thanks largely to online services like xCloud, and not just focused on its own (Windows and Xbox One) platforms.

“Today, Xbox is our gaming brand across all devices, no matter how or where you want to play, or who you want to play with,” Booty verifies. “We’re passionate about building a portfolio of games for players across console, PC and mobile. [And] as we’ve expanded our focus beyond the console, the Xbox brand has also evolved from its original roots.”

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with the new brand. But this kind of inconsistency is curious and seems to be somewhat unique in Microsoft’s stable of offerings. It makes me wonder, again, about the weird separation between Xbox and the rest of the company.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft Renames Its Game Studios to Xbox Game Studios”

  1. Pierre Masse

    Spin-off coming!

  2. nickysreensaver

    There are gonna be a lot of people who will divorce MSFT if they get rid of Xbox.

  3. yoshi

    It worked well for Xbox Music and Xbox Movies.

    • NazmusLabs

      In reply to yoshi:

      Except you delibrately chose to ignore the part that counters your pessimism. Xbox Music Pass failed, but Xbox Game Pass is one of Microsoft biggest gaming successes in the last decade. Game Pass is universally seen as a revolutionary shift in the gaming industry, and the last time Microsoft did this was with Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade, Achievements, and before that it was Xbox Live with the Original Xbox. So, the assumption that Xbox Music and Xbox Movies failed has little weight on today's news.

      More possibly, Xbox is a gaming brand and not an entertainment brand. Microsoft tried to extend the audience from gaming to entertainment but found that chasing the casual consumers while abandoning the core audience was their grave mistake, and ultimately led to the Xbox 180 and the departure of Don Mattric, followed by Phil Spencer being promoted to a major leadership role for the entire company and not just the Xbox.

  4. spacein_vader

    I suppose it makes the branding work will be all done and dusted for whoever buys the Xbox division then.

  5. mikefarinha

    Makes me wonder if they are thinking of breaking the company apart similar to how Google created Alphabet. Not necessarily to sell off Xbox, but to better have each a clear focus. One thing Satya has done that I don't see in any of the other large tech companies do is have a clear, and often repeated, mission statement.

    "Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more."

    Satya has repeatedly said that Xbox is important to Microsoft and I think the recent super bowl ad is prove of this commitment. So I don't think they will spin it off.

    However Xbox doesn't really fit well with Microsoft's mission statement. Breaking Xbox from Microsoft, but keeping them under the same corporate umbrella, will allow Xbox to focus on it's own mission and allow them to leverage pieces of Azure.

    Anything seems possible with Microsoft these days...

  6. Greg Green

    If they’re passionate about PC and mobile gaming they shouldn’t be naming the studios after the console. It sounds like they’ve got PC and mobile as an afterthought. Again.