ResetEra Theorists Suggest that Playtonic May be Joining Xbox Game Studios

Sam Quirke - 5th November 2019

Update: Playtonic have now released a statement denying all rumours, though they were quite amused by the theory.

Original story:

ResetEra theorists are speculating that we may be in for another Xbox Game Studios acquisition announcement at X019. A series of admittedly tenuous tweets and staff changes have caused Xbox players to wonder whether Yooka-Laylee developers Playtonic might be the next to hop under the Xbox Game Studios banner.

Yooka-Laylee is a spiritual successor to Rare's Banjo-Kazooie series, and Playtonic is stuffed full of veteran developers from that particular golden era of Rare's output. The first sign of major shifts for the studio is the return of yet another veteran — Ed Bryan, artist and animator, as well as the "father" of classic Banjo characters Mumbo, Mingy and the Jinjos.


What really kicked off the Game Studios speculation was Ed's follow up tweet. It could of course be a coincidence, but Ed chose to share a shot of his Microsoft-branded satchel, saying later that it has come "out of retirement". Bryan may just be referring to once again joining a large studio after leaving Rare in 2011, and going on sabbatical. Then again, the Microsoft branding could be a direct nod to returning to a Microsoft owned studio. At the very least, it might mean that Bryan might be at X019 for a Playtonic related announcement.


There are a couple of other interesting shifts that at the very least, point to a potential imminent announcement from Playtonic — even if it's not an Xbox Game Studios acquisition. Studio co-owner and game director Gavin Price updated his Playtonic credits on LinkedIn to include "that game #3, #4 and the #5 one too which is the one I always thought would be game #1". Finally, as Klobrille pointed out, the company has updated its registered company name in the UK to "PLAYTONIC GAMES DEVELOPMENT LIMITED", for no discernable reason. Companies of course switch names regularly for a variety of reasons, but if the name change represents a shift in focus, it might also represent a shift in structure and funding.

This is all pretty woolly, but simply in terms of output it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see a studio like Playtonic in the Xbox Game Studios fold — many studios acquired by Xbox have had a similar quirky energy, from Compulsion Games to Double Fine. However, it would be very odd to have a bunch of former Rare developers in the same general orbit as Rare, but no longer working as one team — especially if Playtonic were to continue making the kind of traditional platforming games that Rare made a name for themselves with. If Xbox finally decided to fund a ressurection attempt for Banjo-Kazooie, would they give it to the brand associated with the project, or the veterans responsible for it? Would Playtonic act as a sub-division of the Rare brand, bringing their back catalogue to life to please older fans while Rare continue to push ahead?

It seems a little too complicated an arrangement to us, which is why we're on the fence with this rumour. What do you think of the suggestion that Playtonic could be the next Xbox Game Studios addition?

Playtonic most recently released a 2.5D spin-off for Yooka-Laylee. You can check out the Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair Achievements list for guides, and you can also check the latest prices for it below.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

Yooka & Laylee are back in a brand-new platform hybrid adventure! They must run, jump and roll their way through a series of challenging 2D levels, face a puzzling Overworld and rally the Royal Beettalion to take down Capital B and his Impossible Lair!

Sources: ResetEra, LinkedIn, Klobrille