The deal is the first move by Improbable to acquire a game studio, and the company believes it signals its commitment to building and supporting oustanding games that use its SpatialOS game development platform.
Based in Kirkland, Washington, Midwinter was co-founded by former Halo franchise creative director and 343 Industries studio lead Josh Holmes. Midwinter joins Improbable’s recently-announced internal game studios in Canada (led by former BioWare General Manager Aaryn Flynn) and the United Kingdom (led by former Dice and Epic Games Producer John Wasilczyk).
“I’ve been hugely excited by Midwinter and Scavengers since the first time I talked to Josh,” said Herman Narula, CEO of London-based Improbable, in a statement. “The game development talent at our studios is world-class and is showing us the way when it comes to using SpatialOS to build and iterate on game worlds quickly to introduce groundbreaking games to market. We are very excited by Scavengers and its potential — but also equally thrilled to see how Josh and his team work alongside our global game studios to build solutions and features that help transform the experience of game development for our customers in the future.”
But the deal could also be interpreted another way, as some of Improbable’s high-profile customers have not seen success. Improbable customer Bossa Studios launched its Worlds Adrift game with SpatialOS, but it shut down the title this summer. And Mavericks, which was using SpatialOS to build its Proving Grounds shooter game with up to 1,000 players in a match, also shut down.
“This is unquestionably good news. This acquisition is unrelated to other projects by other development studios. The Midwinter acquisition is the result of a long-running and mutually beneficial partnership between Improbable and Midwinter,” said a spokesperson for Improbable, in an email. “This acquisition reflects Improbable’s confidence in ‘Scavengers’. We think it will be a success, and we want to empower Midwinter’s experienced team to do what they do best – make great multiplayer games. In addition, Improbable will be able to further leverage Midwinter’s world-class multiplayer experience into improving the experience for other developers using Improbable’s technology.”
Midwinter announced Scavengers in March 2018 alongside a multimillion-dollar investment in the game by Improbable. Built using Unreal Engine and Improbable’s SpatialOS cloud-based game development platform, Scavengers is a class-based multiplayer shooter with a unique “co-opetition” twist, set in a world devastated by a new ice age. Teams will compete to collect resources and battle advanced AI enemies but must also decide whether to form fragile alliances with opposing teams to survive the frozen wasteland.
The companies said this acquisition is the culmination of a mutually beneficial partnership between Improbable and Midwinter. Improbable said that Midwinter’s continued contribution to Improbable’s core technology, SpatialOS, will now be streamlined. The result will be a more useful tool for independent game developers and studios building multiplayer games.
Midwinter will retain creative independence while benefiting from closer technical and organizational integration with SpatialOS, which enables faster, more flexible and innovative game development.
“From the beginning, our collaboration with Improbable has been mutually rewarding and this move allows us to join orces to create something bigger and better,” said Holmes, studio head at Midwinter Entertainment, in a statement. “Joining Improbable’s game studios enables us to collaborate more directly with the studios in London and Edmonton, and the SpatialOS platform team. This, in addition to Improbable’s significant investment in the development of Scavengers, will allow us to accelerate our development and bring our vision for the game to life much more vividly than would otherwise be possible.”
The purchase price was not disclosed. Improbable has 350 employees, while Midwinter has 30.