Xbox Game Studios has grown a lot in recent years and that growth is not stopping anytime soon. Xbox has more than 400 positions open and is taking up growth efforts at multiple studios. With this newfound growth, it is possible that Xbox may prefer to make their next acquisitions managed by their newest publisher, Zenimax.
If this does occur they may lean towards studios with a good fit in terms of relationship with Xbox or Zenimax as well as a genre/style fit. Here’s 5 independent studios that would mesh extremely well:
Bethesda is gone to one of the most innovative immersive sim developers there is in Arkane Studios. IO Interactive would fit right in by adding another studio to deliver first class immersive simulation games and make Xbox the place to play for those type of games. The studio already has a history working with Xbox and there has been reported interest in an acquisition from Xbox. They would bring great graphics engine capabilities as well.
The studio behind the gamepass hit Dead by daylight is no stranger to working with Bethesda. They are one of the largest independent developers on the market with 700iah employees and really helped Fallout 76 turn it around. They would bring familiarity but also diversity to the Xbox/Bethesda lineups.
The question of their availability is certainly up in the air as they are one of the companies owned by Nordisk films. However, their work history aligns very nicely with Bethesda. They have a strong history with Xbox and recent games and agreements with Xbox. The upcoming Dino survival game Second Extinction releases in the near future on gamepass. They also recently worked on Rage 2 for Bethesda. This addition would provide a branch to open world games and possibly open up some very interesting spin offs.
Aside from Larian Studios, ZA/UM may be the best wrpg developer remaining on independent. They delivered the hit success Disco Elysium and look to be able to take on a bigger franchise. They could join Bethesda Studios and begin work on a game in the Fallout universe. This would give Bethesda more capability to develop their Grade A franchises and provide a much quicker return to Xbox for their investment in the big Bethesda franchises.
Phil Spencer expressed an interest in adding a developer from Poland. This one doesn’t have the big name IP, but it is in Poland and is founded by a former CDPR employee. The emphasis on survival games certainly fits with some hot trends in the industry and the studio could easily grow these into AAA size, which would give them an edge over almost all ought survival games in the industry. They’re also the right size that they could grow into a multiple team studio and adapt to the talent they pull off other top Polish developers.
There are other studios that would make sense of the bug I feel these uniquely fit. I am also adamant that we will see Xbox add studios under Bethesda in the near term.