At their E3 conference this year, Microsoft announced that they were creating a new studio called The Initiative, lead by former Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher. Today he announced a few hires for Microsoft’s new development house, and there are several significant names joining the team — including the lead producer of this year’s excellent God of War and the head writer of Red Dead Redemption.
Gallagher posted the names of the developers joining The Initiative on his LinkedIn page. Brian Westergaard was last at Sony Santa Monica and was lead producer on the 2018 God of War reboot/sequel. Christian Cantamessa was formerly at Rockstar, where he was lead writer and designer on Red Dead Redemption, and since then also worked on the story of Monolith’s Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Daniel Neuburger is also from Crystal Dynamics, and he was game director on Rise of the Tomb Raider and co-game director on Tomb Raider.
Blake Fischer is from Microsoft and was senior director of portfolio planning; Annie Lohr is an experienced recruiter who’s worked at EA, Riot, and Respawn; and Lindsey McQueeney is the team’s new HR & Culture Manager and was also previously at Crystal Dynamics. In fact, despite coming from a varied range of studios a lot of these people previously worked with Crystal Dynamics — for example Cantamessa and Westergaard were story consultant and lead producer on Rise of the Tomb Raider, respectively. As Darrell Gallagher was former head of that studio, he presumably is familiar with all of them, which may have played a part in why they were hired.
While we don’t currently know what The Initiative are working on, the experience of these developers suggests a third-person action/adventure of some type. The studio was created as part of Microsoft’s new push to create more Xbox exclusive games. The most recent release as part of this was We Happy Few, which came out last week to a less-than-stellar response. Hopefully The Initiative’s first game will fare better.