Microsoft opens mobile-focused London games development studio

By Peter Gothard
14 Sep 2012 View Comments

Microsoft Studios has announced the opening of a dedicated mobile device videogame development studio in London.

The studio joins the software company's existing three UK-based games development studios; London-based Soho Studios, Guildford-based Lionhead, and Rare in Twycross.

Further reading

The as yet unnamed studio is expected to open for business in November, and will share the premises of Soho Studios until further notice.

The new development team is currently in the process of hiring staff.

The studio is being led by former Rare production director Lee Schuneman, whose LinkedIn profile currently states his title as Studio Head of "New London Studio/Microsoft".

Schuneman's role description states he will be "responsible for building a world-class team, developing a long-term business with Entertainment as a Service at its core and focusing on Windows 8 devices as the underlying technology and platform."

Schuneman will report directly to Microsoft's corporate vice president of interactive entertainment, EMEA, Phil Harrison, who joined the company in March after a long career at Microsoft's gaming rival Sony, as an executive on its PlayStation brand.

"I'm hugely excited by this new venture," said Schuneman. "Adding a fourth UK-based studio to the incredible roster of talent already in place not only increases our in-region studio presence, but will allow Microsoft Studios to explore the many creative and business opportunities that developing new games and entertainment experiences on Windows 8 tablet devices and platforms will afford."

Microsoft's decision to apply greater focus on the games side of its Windows 8 mobile devices is clearly an important step in making Windows 8 a more attractive consumer proposition than the Windows 7 generation before it.

But Apple and Android enjoy a distinct lead in the sector which Microsoft will have to work hard to close.

Not only do the two platforms have a greater variety of games titles than Microsoft managed to release on Windows 7 phones, they also enjoy networking facilities to allow users to play together, or share scores and other information on league tables, such as on Apple's standardised 'Game Center' hub.

It is expected that Windows 8 mobile devices will take advantage of Microsoft's existing Xbox Live architecture in this regard, an idea supported by its appointment of a studio lead whose industry experience lies with development on the company's primary games console formats.

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