Microsoft, Peter Jackson to create game studio

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Barcelona (Spain) - Microsoft's video games could get much more Hollywood excitement and drama as the company today announced that it will create Wingnut, a new game studio in cooperation with Academy award winning writer, director, and producer Peter Jackson as well as Academy Award-winning screenwriter Fran Walsh.

According to an announcement made Wednesday, Jackson and Walsh will be deeply involved in key titles to be published under various Microsoft brands. In a first stage, the parties will collaborate to develop two new "interactive entertainment series" for the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, the first of which will be a sequel to Halo and the second "will be an entirely original property targeted at bringing new audiences into the captivating world of interactive entertainment."

Jackson, Walsh and Microsoft Game Studios are also planning to establish "Wingnut" among the leading developer of video games. "Microsoft has built an amazing living canvas with Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, which allows the storytellers of our time to express themselves in a new medium. They have fundamentally changed how people think about games," Jackson said in a prepared statement. "My vision, together with Microsoft Game Studios, is to push the boundaries of game development and the future of interactive entertainment."

Microsoft also followed up on its HD DVD drive announcement made last week in Japan. The drive, scheduled to become available in mid-November in the U.S., will not be quite as cheap as in Japan ($170), but can still be considered a bargain at a suggested retail price of $200. The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player will include an HD DVD with Peter Jackson's "King Kong" and the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.

Several new games were announced an confirmed as well: Halo Wars" is a new real-time strategy game for Xbox 360 that was developed by Ensemble Studios, the creators of the "Age of Empires" franchise. Rockstar and Take-Two announced they will provide Xbox 360 gamers with exclusive access to two downloadable, epic episodes of "Grand Theft Auto IV" via Xbox Live; Ubisoft confirmed that the next "Splinter Cell" title, the next installment in the series after "Splinter Cell Double Agent," will be a console-exclusive on Xbox 360 and 2K Games confirmed its "BioShock" first person shooter for the Xbox 360 and Windows PC. Bizarre Creations allowed a first look at "Project Gotham Racing 4," which will build on previous versions of the racing game.