God of War Senior Environment Artist joins Microsoft's 'The Initiative' studio

The Initiative E3 2018
The Initiative E3 2018 (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • The Initiative is still expanding its team.
  • The studio is working on a "AAAA" project.
  • The Initiative just hired another Sony Santa Monica developer.
  • We should learn more about the team and its game in 2020.

The Initiative is Microsoft's "AAAA" studio that's tasked with creating quality experiences. It's based in Santa Monica and the team keeps on growing. A lot of Sony Santa Monica developers have made the jump, but another one recently joined the team, too.

Principal Environment Artist Erik Jakobsen joined The Initiative in December 2019. Jakobsen was working as a Senior Staff Environment Artist at Sony Santa Monica before this. The listing was spotted by Klobrille on LinkedIn.

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It's great to see that a lot of amazing talent is joining The Initiative. We can't wait to find out what the team is working on. It seems like it's an Xbox Series X Console Exclusive.

What do you hope the team is working on? Let us know.

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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

27 Comments
  • Don't know what they are working on but it can only mean something good. God of War was amazing hopefully their project turns out the same.
  • @ Asher Madan
    Why are you calling it a "AAAA" studio?
    Didn't they say they want to stay small? I read it on windows central.
    https://www.windowscentral.com/xbox-game-studio-initiative-talks-staying...
  • Not to mention "AAAA" just sounds like a child is naming it. Like you have to add an extra A just to satisfy your ego. But if that's how their jobs are listed - in that very article you linked - then I guess that's how they want to be seen.
  • @Zeem
    In the article, it says that the job listing was removed I would assume it was quickly removed. So maybe it was just a typo? Or maybe they don't want to be seen that way.
    The AAAA tag means huge expectation. Saying that they want to stay small may just be a way to decrease the expectation level. Asher Madan claims they are working on a AAAA project. I would love to know is source.
    I saw job listing on the inititive site and can't find any mention of AAAA project.
    I would really like a source, but knowing Asher Madan, I don't think it's coming. Is this news or rumours or fake news?
  • I don't believe Asher was the first to state this 4A crap, I thought I remember that was an early claim by MS or this studio. That doesn't exclude the fact that you can't stay small AND make big, blockbuster games. It would be like filming a Star Wars movie with 30 people instead of hundreds.
  • I think the first article was that it was mentioned in a job listing, but that was removed. In current job listing they are talking about AAA game.
    But do you have a link about who made that claim? MS or studio? The only things I find on internet is people using the AAAA (like Asher madan here) and that job listing that was taken down. I don't know about that being a fact because AAA is a subjective term. But if we consider that more than 1000 people worked on GTA5 and it's budget was close to $300m. A game that's AAAA would have to have a much bigger budget than that.
    ofc 30 people can be MUCH more amazing than a 1000 and can have 100 times the salary of the average dev. But I think the message staying small is a contradiction to the idea of how huge a game with a AAAA budget can be. But either way, that hardly matters. I was asking for the source of "The studio is working on a "AAAA" project.".
    Saying small is actually something that they said. Did they claim they are working on a AAAA project?
    That's what my initial post is about. When Asher Madan is saying that is he spreading a fact, a lie or a rumour?
  • They called it "AAAA" in their job listing. AAAA is a subjective term, probably just meant to sound like they wanted to make a high-quality big-budget title. Stayiing small again, in AAA, comparatively, is a couple hundred people probably. Ubisoft has teams of several hundred working on its open world games. It's all relative and subjective, it's not "misinformation" when there's no definitive explanation of what AAAA means. You're taking it too seriously.
  • So it's news it's an opinion piece based on something that could very well be a mistake (since the job listing was taken out, and there are no current ones like these at the moment). MS never said they are working on a AAAA product.
    Ok got it. What's interesting is that MS did the exact same thing just before the start of the XB1 generation back in 2012.
    https://www.videogamer.com/news/triple-a-isnt-good-enough-for-microsoft-... We saw the result of this AAAA project MS was working on in the last 7 years. I guess I'll just put this out there and let people decide what to make of people using the AAAA term as a fact in their news report. I'll just say, budget doesn't means quality. I would rather see a critically acclaimed AA game than one that just has a massive budget.
  • My guess.
    Initiative prob has way lesser employees than the crowd working on Assassin's Creed, but the people it hires, are much more expensive.
    And I suppose Initiative will have greater money freedom than others when comes to hire external guns & building, experimenting on techs when necessary.
  • Thanks for your guess.
    Now off topic, do you remember you made me list out the number of MS and Sony games I've played recently?
    So what was the point of that? Was it just to waste my time or did you actually had a point to make?
  • To see if you are truly unbiased.
    Make you write it down to make sure there's nothing gray, and I'll ask further Qs then link'em all together. Simple.
    Now, instead of side tracking, why don't you just give me all the y/n? Q12. Epic, is capable of writing good cross-platform account managing / sync code.
    True or false? Q3: Were you happy when MS released games on Steam? Q6. Xbox team has developed techniques like mipmap modding, and PS/Steam don't have that. Q13. XB1 runs xbOG/360/1 games on emulation. Q14. PS4 runs ps4 games without emulation.
  • Why do you keep asking questions without replying mine or point I make?
    I'll answer these few questions even though I don't see the point BUT, I won't answer your question indefinitely.
    And these are not Y or N questions if I have not idea what's the reply and if they are wrongly formulated.
    So here go:
    12 no idea I don't work for Epic. (PS still stuck on epic cross play thing , I see. lol)
    3 Well, yeah, wasn't it obvious when I posted on the ori sequel news?
    6 No idea
    13 Some XB og and 360. Don't know about 1
    14 Yes I think Now will you reply the questions and points that I made in that other topic. Or are you the only one allowed to ask questions?
  • Can you sum up your Q in a short sentence? There where wall of texts, don't know which one you are referring to. > 12 no idea
    "When it comes to the Fornite issue, the problem is with epic accounts. Epic should be the one to solve that issue."
    Is this your word? That means a no? > 3 Well, yeah
    Q3-1: Why is that? So that you don't have to buy a Xbox?
    Q3-2: Would you buy a Xbox for those was-console-exclusives or was-MS-store-exclusives? > 6 No idea
    It's on the web. A yes.
    Q6-1: Can Xbox team re-mod those mipmaps again, to make games support 8K? > 13 Some XB og and 360. Don't know about 1
    Every OG/360 games running on xb1, is on emulation. It's the only possible way.
    xb1 games is also on emulation.
    A yes. > 14 Yes I think
    It's a yes. Q15. Emulation, logically, is more flexible in the long run, especially when you don't want to be tight to 1 particular HW architecture. Q16. Do you think software (application, api, sdk, os, middleware, etc) should last / should be supported forever? Q1. Can you run Steam games on a Win10Classic?
    Q1-1. Can you run Steam games on a WCOS / Win10X? Q2. Buy a game from MsStore today, can you run it on Xboxes (boxes since xb1), WCOS, Win10Classic & xCloud? Q5. PSNow supports ps4, pc and phone.
    Q5-1 PSNow has its own lineup.
    Q5-2 You can stream everything you own directly from PSNow server to your phone, even the game is not in PSNow's lineup. Q7. Steam Machines, Steam Controller and Steam Link are discontinued. "my old consoles. But none are connected." Those are you words.
    Q16 Would you throw/give/donate'em away if PS5 can run everything since ps1 era? Q17 Consumers, logically, will buy the next new thing (phone, console, HW parts, watch, fry pan, whatever), eventually right?
  • Replying 5 questions led to 13 others. lol
    Anyway here are my questions, do reply them in English and if you are to post evidence or link please provide them in English. Also provide the exact quote. Meaning don't tell me it's in a book and tell me to read the book.
    It has been divided into 10 parts. Here you go:
    1)
    You said "Majority don't care."
    Since a minority of gamers bought Gears 4, Halo 5 or Halo 6 does that mean that majority don't care? Or that majority of gamers don't care about XB console or Win10 gaming?
    Can you name one game that majority of gamers bought?
    Just because majority don't play with a steam controller should I stop playing with it? What if I like the controller should not use it because majority doesn't? 2)
    You said this:
    "I know you are talking about yourself (but sometimes you make it sound like you ARE the majority), tho you keep saying you are not a fan of anything, but you have a preference, so, you are not a fan of nothing."
    When exactly did I make it sound like I am the majority?
    Just a quote or a link would do. 3)
    That whole discussion started because I gave my opinion about me preferring Steam. Can you tell me why you felt the need to try to discuss about my opinions. Don't I have a right to my own opinion? Or did your opinion upset you in some way? 4)
    You said "you keep saying you are not a fan of anything"
    Post a link where I said I'm not a fan of anything. If I keep saying it it should be easy. 5)
    Did you play & finish the orginal Ori? 6)
    How many games did you finish this year? 7)
    How many PS4 games and "MS games" have you finished since 2015. 8)
    You asked "Xbox team has developed techniques like mipmap modding, and PS/Steam don't have that."
    Your reply was: "It's on the web. A yes."
    Can you provide a link that PS or steam teams can't? 9)
    "xb1 games is also on emulation."
    Do you have a link or evidence proving this? 10)
    When you said "I don't keep rubbishes."
    Was it a way of saying that I keep rubbish? You told me to get rid of my Win8 laptop and my Win7 PC that I still constantly use. Do you think I should just throw out stuff if there is a new version of a product and older version becomes rubbish? I mean wasn't it what you were implying when you said "I don't keep rubbishes." --------------------------------------------------------------
    And here are the answers to your questions.
    Why don't your READ my post? Many of the questions have already been replied on old posts... "When it comes to the Fornite issue, the problem is with epic accounts. Epic should be the one to solve that issue."
    Is this your word? That means a no?"
    My words maybe, and no it doesn't. Epic is responsible for Epic account. That's nothing to do with what they are capable to do or not. "Why is that? So that you don't have to buy a Xbox?"
    As I already posted in that topic, it's because I would be able to play on steam and not on win10 "Would you buy a Xbox for those was-console-exclusives or was-MS-store-exclusives?"
    I would buy new hardware if there is a game that I want to play and I can't play on the hardware I currently own. "Q6-1: Can Xbox team re-mod those mipmaps again, to make games support 8K?"
    No idea, but if you want to answer it please post a link. "Q16. Do you think software (application, api, sdk, os, middleware, etc) should last / should be supported forever?"
    I would think not forever. But what do you mean by supported? "Q1. Can you run Steam games on a Win10Classic?
    Q1-1. Can you run Steam games on a WCOS / Win10X?"
    No idea, don't care. "Buy a game from MsStore today, can you run it on Xboxes (boxes since xb1), WCOS, Win10Classic & xCloud?"
    Well it really depends on the game. I buy AOE or Minecraft for Windows 10 I wouldn't on XB1, only some that are XPA.
    Don't know about WCOS or Win10Classic.
    XCloud? We don't know if and the cost. MS hasn't talked about it's business model. Unless you have links ofc, you're welcome to post them "Q5-2 You can stream everything you own directly from PSNow server to your phone, even the game is not in PSNow's lineup."
    No idea, I would think not, but don't know I'm not and don't intend to subscribe to PSNow... "Q16 Would you throw/give/donate'em away if PS5 can run everything since ps1 era?"
    I always said BC is a nice feature but I wouldn't buy a new gen console to play old gen games. Would I personally get rid of my PS3 or PS4 if I had a PS5 that could play each and every of it's games natively? Maybe. It's not as though I don't have place to keep my consoles and games. I have, and it's not a problem for me. If I really don't need something I would get rid of it. "Q17 Consumers, logically, will buy the next new thing (phone, console, HW parts, watch, fry pan, whatever), eventually right?"
    There is no right or wrong. It's subjective. It'll all depend on the need of each person. I use very few apps on my phone. I don't feel the need to change my phone even if the next phone is coming up. Same with my GPU. My current GPU is good enough to play the games I want to play, why buy the new version if I don't need to? Eventually I can skip versions and generations and buy the next version if the current one is no longer doing the job for me.
  • How about your guess?
    Will this be a team as big as team's' working on Assassin's Creed?
    So, the people it hired, will it be cheaper than average?
    How do you think about the budget? As limited as others?
  • I already posted my opinion. Read it.
  • AAA refers to the production values and budget used on the project, not the size of the team.
  • @tim
    But aren't they usually directly proportional? A bigger studio with more employee will normally cost more than a small studio. Did you read the link that I posted?
    AAA is suppose to be the highest budget. What's higher than the highest budget?
    This just looks like marketing. Try to stand out and trying to sell stuff. Undead Labs said State of Decay 2 was going to be AAA before it was launched. Why did they say that?
  • Amazing how some still do not know what 'AAAA' means. It's not some made up marketing scam or make things sound fancy, its a real thing and is development based. 'AAAA' falls under when a developer has unlimited or an insane higher spending budget compared to a AAA game. Has nothing to do with a game having a 10/10 score or studio size 😂 In case for the initiative, a studio that has to prove themselves.. Microsoft has opened the money gates to have that AAAA status and have them build great experiences continuously. They mentioned this on Twitter as well.
  • It sounds ******* stupid, even more stupid than AAA already did.
  • Yep, it sure does. WTF does it stop? Can't wait to play the A*10 games! (sorry, can't really do the exponent text in this app text box)
  • OMG I was looking it up and I found this:
    https://www.videogamer.com/news/triple-a-isnt-good-enough-for-microsoft-...
    https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-19-microsoft-hiring-for-a-maj... MS actually pulled the same stunt at the end of last generation, in 2012.
    I don't remember many AAAA, XB1 exclusives.
    And now 2018-2019, with the new generation why not put another job listing talking of AAAA...
    So is this some sort of marketing **** to get people excited about the future?
    Are they doing this on purpose and let the media and fans spread it to create excitement?
    -------------------
    On a side note I'll say: Personally, I'm really excited for the Initiative regardless of this marketing stunt. I think the creation of this studio is the most positive thing for gaming/gamers that MS have done in more than 10 years. I really hope it succeeds and make brilliant games with whatever budget it has.
    Budget for me doesn't matter that much. I play all type of games. My posts are not to bring down the studio in anyway. Just why are gaming article spreading that? Is it a fact?
  • Jokes on them, my developer skills are AAAAAAAAA*****+&Knuckles
  • I just found the biggest A*25 game! Can anyone beat this? :)
    https://store.steampowered.com/app/15560/AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA_for_t...
  • You guys are spending too much time on complaining about something most be people don't even care about.......
    Why not just be happy that MS has developers and the studios to bring great games and talk about that?🤔
  • I'm just having a laugh because it's funny.
  • @remedy
    It's so ridiculous, it's actually funny.
    Read the comment section of the 2012 "AAAA" job listing. It's actually funny.
    https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-19-microsoft-hiring-for-a-maj... Personally I'm not here complaining about the Initative. I'm having a laugh at the marketing stunt.
    Also my first post was just to know the source. To make the claim, maybe the author had a source that I didn't know about. It was for my information, nothing more.