The Initiative, Microsoft’s recently announced first-party studio, is shaping up nicely

Even the most hardcore Xbox supporters must acknowledge that the console’s list of exclusives has been looking a bit empty in recent years, so when Microsoft announced that it had splashed some cash on a few studios to help remedy that, fans of the platform felt a renewed sense of hope. Of the studios announced, one was an unknown entity – The Initiative, an all-new, first-party developer with little more than a name and a promise of great things to come. Now we finally have some insight as to the kind of talent which will be helping shape the future of Microsoft’s console exclusives lineup, and it’s looking good.

First, here’s what we already knew – The Initiative is headed up by former Crystal Dynamics head, Darrel Gallagher, and the studio is to be based in Santa Monica. Hmmm… Santa Monica, why does that sound so familiar? Ah, yes, Sony’s first party Santa Monica Studio. Fancy that! Which brings us neatly to our first newly signed staff member, God of War’s lead producer Brian Westergaard. And not just any God of War, the new, sexy one. Good ol’ Brian has clearly traded his God for Gears (a little console war joke there, kids, but not my best work).

Next on the staff party guest list is Christian Cantamessa. He may sound like a soccer playing broadsword, but this Italian chap was the lead writer and designer of Red Dead Redemption, among other things. He penned much of the story for Middle Earth: Shadow of War, for example. AIN’T THAT GRAND?

By this point you’ve all realised that I’ve done my share of Wikipedia’ing here.

The Initiative has also gained the talents of Daniel Neuburger, a man without a Wikipedia page. Which helps me fokkol. But his LinkedIn thing says he earned his wages as a game director at Crystal Dynamics for 12 years, which is, if my calculations are correct, a bloody long time. Seems studio boss Gallagher wanted a familiar face around the office.

In fairness, from here there’s a big drop-off in terms of excitement. If these were film credits, they would be the “Also Starring” bit.

Blake Fischer, who, up until he got whisked off to Santa Monica, was Senior Director of Portfolio Planning over at Microsoft for 16 years.

Annie Lohr, who has being doing recruitment things for games that you may have heard of, like Halo 4, and something called Call of Duty –  she’ll be doing the recruitment things for The Initiative, too.

And lastly, Lindsey McQueeney, also a Crystal Dynamics alumna, who has a LinkedIn profile as tightly clenched as a Glaswegian sailor’s fist on a halyard, so I can’t tell you much more about her, except that she will be the HR & Culture Manager at The Initiative.

All of this came via a LinkedIn post made by studio head Darrel Gallagher, which has since been deleted, but not before it was grabbed and posted on ResetEra by CrimsonEclipse, and then reported by Eurogamer. And now it’s here, for your reading pleasure.

In retrospect, this news piece could have been a lot shorter. Still, The Initiative, shaping up nicely, wouldn’t you say?