Updated: 4:41PM EST
Microsoft has been very clear it's taking Project Natal, their camera-based, controller-less new form of gaming, very seriously. Bungie's said Halo Reach could possibly incorporate Project Natal and based on a series of hiring posts I discovered this morning, Microsoft is seriously staffing up for a brand-new, internal Project Natal development studio.
There are currently at least 20 different positions Microsoft is currently looking to fill related to Project Natal, including five artists, 11 software development engineers, three game designers and one audio engineer.
"Would you like to work on a next-generation project, built from the ground up in MGS," asks one Natal-related post. "We have a very strong team, currently responsible for Gears of War 2, starting a new project in a start-up like environment. This is a rare opportunity to work on a team of game industry experts tackling a new challenge."
Does this mean Epic Games is heading up a new Project Natal-focused studio at Microsoft? Not necessarily. Kudo Tsunoda, formerly of EA Chicago, originally landed at Microsoft to become the brand manager for the Gears of War franchise. Tsunoda was later assigned to the then-secret Project Natal and helped unveil the technology at E3 earlier this month. But the job listings suggest this involves more than just one man, but again -- this could simply be internal Microsoft staff that worked with Epic Games on Gears of War 2 moving onto a new Project Natal assignment.
I reached out to Microsoft for comment about this new internal studio, but Microsoft did not respond to comment. If I receive clarification from the company, I'll update this story with more information. [Note: Microsoft has responded -- scroll to the bottom of the story for their statement]
Some job postings appear to conflict with one another; a few hope to attract talent for a Project Natal-based game, while others specifically discuss the new Project Natal studio with the goal of producing "interactive and creative content for Project Natal." It's unclear whether they are one and the same or completely different initiatives. Microsoft is clearly hoping for big things from this. Job listings are meant to incite enthusiasm, but Microsoft's implying a revolution is expected from this studio.
"Are you interested in shipping innovative games that will change the way people play?" said another Project Natal-related listing. "If so, we want you to join our team to work on an amazing next-generation project, built from the ground up, in Microsoft Game Studios. We are building a NEW GAME STUDIO from the ground up that will revolutionize both WHAT you play and HOW you play. You have the chance to get in on the ground floor and work with professionals responsible for some of the industry’s greatest innovations to date."
What do you think they're up to?
Update: Microsoft released the following statement about the Project Natal job postings:
"Regarding the recent job postings," said the company, "some MGS employees who worked on 'Gears of War 2' are moving onto a new, unrelated project. We have no details to share about the project at this time."
Sounds like our analysis was right on -- the listings referenced Microsoft employees, not Epic Games' staff.