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article imageMicrosoft buys company behind realistic physics in 600 games

By James Walker     Oct 3, 2015 in Entertainment
Microsoft has announced it has bought the creators of one of the most popular 3D physics engines for games. Havok has powered hundreds of titles over the years and was previously owned by Intel.
News of the purchase broke yesterday when Microsoft used a blog post to officially reveal the acquisition. It credits Havok as being the "leading provider" of 3D physics in over 600 games.
In recent years, the company's technologies have powered triple-A releases like Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed, Destiny and Microsoft's own Halo. Among several under-development titles reliant on the engine is Crackdown 3, a game which features a fully-destructible environment that can be torn down with amazing realism in real-time.
Outsourced physics engines allow game developers to concentrate on their own unique content in the confidence it will behave as it would in the real world when encountered by players. Rather than having to remake the wheel just to achieve realistic motion or gravity effects, developers can use Havok's technology to have accurate physics right from the start.
The Irish company was founded in 1998 and sold to Intel in 2007. Terms of the sale to Microsoft have not been disclosed. The software giant quickly sought to allay any concerns from developers by saying it has no plans to change Havok's business model. It currently makes money from licensing of its engine.
Microsoft says Havok will be a "fantastic addition" to its own developer tools including its Visual Studio code development environment and DirectX 12 graphics engine. It said that Havok shares its goal of "empowering people to create worlds and experiences that have never been seen before," writing in a blog post: "Microsoft's acquisition of Havok continues our tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world. We will continue to innovate for the benefit of development partners. Part of this innovation will include building the most complete cloud service, which we've just started to show through games like Crackdown 3."
The purchase should act as a reassurance to Microsoft's gaming fans who in recent years have often seemed to be somewhat overlooked. Since the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft has reaffirmed its commitment to gaming on both Windows and Xbox after years of neglect, particularly on the desktop.
The new features in the Windows 10-powered Xbox One update coming in November are based around community requests, indicating Microsoft is listening and aiming to please fans. Windows itself has an all-new Xbox app to finally replace the loathed and broken Games for Windows Live system that constituted the company's previous effort to unify PC gaming.
By acquiring a firm whose products have been used in hundreds of games across a multitude of platforms and by the largest developers in the industry, Microsoft is sending out a strong message that it is aware of the demand for games for both PC and consoles. For the time being, Havok will continue to operate as it currently does while Microsoft figures out how best to "integrate" it into its own products.
More about Microsoft, havok, Physics, Gaming, Acquisition
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