Microsoft now owns one of gaming’s most popular middleware tools.
The Xbox company announced this morning that it has acquired Havok, the technology company best known for creating a physics engine of the same name, from Intel. You’ve likely seen the capabilities of the Havok engine before in games like Halo, Dark Souls, and Destiny. Developers enjoy using Havok because it provides a streamlined way to simulate the effects of gravity, friction, and other natural forces in games without having to dedicate a team of programmers and mathematicians to the job. Now, Microsoft owns the rights to that tech. But don’t worry, developers, the company says it will still let you play with its new ball (which perfectly obeys the laws of physics), and Microsoft may even use this acquisition to offer some enticing new tools to partners looking to use the Azure cloud service.
“As we welcome Havok to the Microsoft family, we will continue to work with developers to create great gaming experiences, and continue to license Havok’s development tools to partners,” reads a Microsoft blog post about the acquisition.
Many in the industry will likely breathe a sigh of relief that Microsoft still plans to license Havok. Nintendo, Sony, Electronic Arts, and many other companies have all implemented the tech into their games before, and they will probably want to do so again in the future.
Of course, Microsoft was also a partner for Havok, so why did it feel the need to purchase the company outright? Well, it has a lot to do with providing new tools for developers that choose to use Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure.
“We believe that Havok is a fantastic addition to Microsoft’s existing tools and platform components for developers, including DirectX 12, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Azure,” read the blog post. “Microsoft’s acquisition of Havok continues our tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world. We will continue to innovate for the benefit of development partners. Part of this innovation will include building the most complete cloud service, which we’ve just started to show through games like Crackdown 3.”
That last note about Crackdown 3 is potentially the most telling. For that open-world crime game’s multiplayer mode, Microsoft is enabling players to go in and destroy skyscrapers and everything else in the world. That mode is only possible through the power of Azure, which means Crackdown 3 developers Sumo Digital and Cloudgine are building a cloud-based destruction engine that probably runs on Havok. Once that’s built, and now that Microsoft owns Havok, it could potentially license that destruction engine out to other developers.