Microsoft has acquired gaming middleware outfit Havok from chipmaker Intel, as the company works to position the Xbox One and Windows 10 as the ultimate gaming platforms.

Irish software outfit Havok was founded in Dublin in 1998 by computer scientists Hugh Reynolds and Steven Collins of Trinity College. The company's breakthrough came with the release of the Havok Software Development Kit in 2000, offering developers the ability to quickly and easily add physics effects to their games - and, later, Hollywood films. As well as Havok Physics, the SDK includes Animation Studio, Cloth, Destruction, AI pathfinding capabilities, a Lua-compatible virtual machine, and the Vision Engine formerly of German-based Trinigy.

The company was acquired by US chip giant Intel in 2007 for $110 million. 'Havok is a proven leader in physics technology for gaming and digital content,' explained Intel president Renee James of the acquisition, 'and will become a key element of Intel's visual computing and graphics efforts.' Key, perhaps, but given the abandonment of Intel's discrete graphics effort, codenamed Larrabee, there's less reason for Intel to hold on to the company - and that's music to Microsoft's ears, which has taken the firm off Intel's hands for an undisclosed sum.

'Microsoft’s acquisition of Havok continues our tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world,' claimed a Microsoft spokesperson of the deal. '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.” Havok shares Microsoft’s vision for empowering people to create worlds and experiences that have never been seen before, and we look forward to sharing more of this vision in the near future.'

Microsoft has indicated that it will continue to offer licences to Havok's development tools to third parties, but has not stated whether these will include long-time gaming rival Sony and developers building exclusives for the company's PlayStation family of consoles.
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