Software

Microsoft gobbles Chipzilla's Havok 3D physics unit in cloud gaming play

Don't worry – it promises to play nice with others

By Neil McAllister in San Francisco

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Top physics engine for 3D gaming Havok has been scooped up by Microsoft, which has inked a deal with Intel to buy the outfit for an undisclosed sum.

"Havok is an amazing technology supplier in the games industry and the leading real-time physics creator," Microsoft crowed in a blog post announcing the purchase.

It added: "We saw an opportunity to acquire Havok to deliver great experiences for our fans."

Microsoft uses Havok in its popular Halo series of games, but many other leading games companies have also licensed Havok's software over the years – including Activision, EA, Nintendo, Sony, and Ubisoft, among others – and the Havok engine has provided physics for hundreds of game titles.

Microsoft said it still planned to license Havok to these and other customers, even as it brings development and maintenance of the software under its own roof.

Havok was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Chipzilla acquired the firm in 2007 – for how much, we're not certain – and has maintained it as an independent subsidiary with offices in Dublin, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, and a few cities in Germany.

It's not yet clear to what degree this independence will be maintained under Microsoft.

Redmond did say, however, that one of its immediate goals was to further integrate Havok physics into its Azure-powered Xbox One Cloud. Massive-scale, cloud-calculated physics is one of the most anticipated features of Microsoft Studios' forthcoming Crackdown 3, which is expected to ship sometime in mid-2016.

Havok's main competitor in the gaming physics space is Nvidia, which has licensed its own PhysX technology for use in more than 150 games. ®

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