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13 June, 2018 - 13:26 By Tony Quested

Microsoft acquisition of Ninja Theory secures 100 Cambridge games jobs

US giant Microsoft Studios has signed a letter of intent to acquire Cambridge UK games developer Ninja Theory for an undisclosed sum.

The move secures 100 Cambridge jobs and Ninja commercial director Dom Matthews says it will unleash a flurry of creativity that could put the Cambridge business years ahead of competitors.

The Ninja Theory acquisition is one of several by Microsoft in a sudden flurry.

There was a clear undertone in Ninja officials’ remarks on its website that the future of the workforce as a whole could have been in serious doubt had it not been for Microsoft’s timely swoop.

Co-founder Tameem Antoniades described the acquisition as a new chapter in the company’s history. Ninja Theory has worked on Microsoft projects since the Xbox launch and confidence in its creative juices has clearly gathered force as the company continued to punch above its weight.

He confided: “About four years ago we very nearly closed our doors. Dozens if not hundreds of developers around us were closing their doors. 

“We were told there was no longer any place for developers like us – too big for Indy and too small to be truly AAA – and we had to tell our team we were facing annihilation. We had to find a new way forward.”

Ninja Theory split its teams, with one of 20 working with a $10 million budget to develop the highly acclaimed Hellblade. The project was so successful globally that it enabled the company to donate major sums to charity; it also racked up stacks of international awards including a haul of five Baftas in April.

Ninja Theory says that when Microsoft made its approach it was “totally unexpected. They asked our goals and ambitions and when we outlined our aim to make games more creative and take bigger chances we thought that would be the end of the conversation.

“Their response was to offer to protect our team, our culture and our independence and said they would put their marketing, technology and research resources fully behind us to help us achieve our goals.”

Ninja Theory directors visited all the Microsoft teams and emerged convinced that the acquisition would enable the business to back all its 100 employees and “jump years ahead. “We knew that we could really fly without the risk of falling down that had always held us back.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Tameem Antoniades

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