Microsoft Acquires Ubiquitous Physics Engine, Havok

If you consider yourself a gamer, there is a very good chance that you’ve been exposed to Havok Inc’s software. This company is responsible for...
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    If you consider yourself a gamer, there is a very good chance that you’ve been exposed to Havok Inc’s software. This company is responsible for the creation of the the very popular physics engine, Havok. The Havok engine can be found in Halo, Call of Duty, Skyrim, and hundreds of other franchises. This past Friday, Havok was bought by Microsoft after being with Intel for nearly eight years.

    Microsoft claims this acquisition will help with their “tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world.” They also say the main reason for this acquisition is to improve their cloud computing servers that can be utilized by the Xbox One. Currently, there isn’t much information about how this feature will work in games, but it’s clear that this is something Microsoft has a lot of faith in.

    In addition to cloud computing, Microsoft seems to be taking a lot of big steps to make themselves more prominent in the gaming industry. The most notable example of this would be DirectX12, which will also benefit from the acquisition. While DirectX 12 and cloud computing seem to be really great on the surface, there are some fairly major downsides that need to be considered.

    The biggest issue with this acquisition is further segmentation of the gaming industry. It is more than likely that Microsoft wants to use the Havok engine as a selling point over other consoles. In reality, this is already coming true due to the fact that their cloud computing servers will not be available for use on other machines. If this sort of segmentation is happening on the consoles, it’s fair to assume the same thing will happen on the PC.

    Microsoft is already battling other, more open, pieces of software like the Vulkan API with DX12. If Havok is tied in with DX12, it will just give developers more of a reason to use DX12. This, of course, will only hinder the multi-platform progress that other APIs have been striving to achieve. It is possible that Microsoft doesn’t completely lock down Havok to their software. However, we could see a scenario similar to PhysX and NVIDIA hardware, where Havok performance is hindered on non-Microsoft software.

    Whether all of this speculation actually comes to fruition depends on the developers. Fortunately, the support for other APIs and operating systems seem to be steadily increasing. It should also be considered that mobile devices are becoming more and more popular for gaming, but Microsoft isn’t doing so well when it comes to mobile devices. This means it’s fairly unlikely we'll ever see a mobile implementation of DX12, while other APIs support a wide range of platforms and operating systems. Lastly, there are a lot of other physics engines, such as Bullet, that could replace Havok if such a switch is needed.

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    Monopolyman
    I am a young writer who is passionate about gaming and technology. PC is my preferred platform, but I appreciate all forms of video games. I enjoy voicing my opinion in the articles I write, but also like to keep our readers informed on the latest news.

Comments

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  1. Red58
    Some of my favorite games used the Havok game engine, although I have never thought too highly of it lol
  2. Wavy
    Even after PS4 takes Call of Duty exlcusivity away from Xbox, Microsoft finds ways to get itself back into COD somehow, some way.
    1. Stonerzard
      Wut? This article doesn't really have anything to do with CoD other than by association. The Havok engine has been acquired by MS so they can develop Xbox exclusives with the Havok engine without any restrictions from Havok essentially.
    2. Wavy
      They have more than one agenda. Microsoft wants to get itself a little piece of everything wherever they can. It doesn't have to be about COD for me to say that.
    3. Stonerzard
      "Microsoft finds ways to get itself back into CoD somehow, some way."
      "It doesn't have to be about CoD for me to say that"

      But it is about CoD. If it's not, what other game are we talking about here!? FIFA!?!?
  3. OVH
    Would love to see some xbox exclusives.
      Ms Skizzy likes this.
  4. TheItalianLad
    Does this mean that games that use this engine are going to be Xbox exclusives? I don't really understand what MS will benefit from this.
    1. denz
      No, I assume they will still licence it to developers.

      Again I assume main benefit is that they own it and they can use it in anyway they want without any restrictions from Havok.
    2. Monopolyman
      Probably not. It wouldn't really make sense for MS to alienate all of the franchises that use Havok, because I'm sure a lot of them wouldn't want their game to Xbox only. However, MS could use this as a selling point over other consoles and just make it perform better on their hardware/software.
  5. richardcarter1789
    Seems we do indeed. Go Microsoft! We may have a love-hate relationship, but yeah, who doesn't?
  6. Pyroman
    Awesome!
  7. Skype
    Seems like we will get some good games from Microsoft's ideas in the future. Nice article.