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Undead Labs LLC
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
FoundedNovember 23, 2009; 14 years ago (2009-11-23)
FounderJeff Strain
Key people
Philip Holt (studio head)
ProductsState of Decay series
Number of employees
~60[1] (2018)
ParentXbox Game Studios (2018–present)

Undead Labs LLC is an American video game developer based in Seattle, Washington. The company was founded in November 2009 by Jeff Strain and developed the State of Decay series. In 2018, Undead Labs became part of Microsoft Studios (now known as Xbox Game Studios).


Undead Labs was founded on November 23, 2009, by Jeff Strain, with the sole focus on zombie-based games.[2] On February 3, 2011, Undead Labs announced that they were partnering with Microsoft Game Studios to publish their games on the Xbox 360 and now also the Xbox One.[3] This decision was made after most of the other publishers who showed interest in their games were requesting what they described as "World of Warcraft clones".[4] The first game State of Decay was released on the Xbox 360 on June 5, 2013, and on Microsoft Windows on November 5, 2013.[5][6][7]

On January 11, 2014, it was announced that Undead Labs has signed a multi-year, multi-title agreement with Microsoft Studios.[8] Jeff Strain stated that the first State of Decay was "just the start of (Undead Labs') long-term ambitions", and spoke of many future titles potentially entering the franchise.[9]

At E3 2018, Microsoft announced they had entered into an agreement to acquire Undead Labs into Microsoft Studios.[10] In 2020, the studio announced their next title State of Decay 3 for Xbox Series X/S and PC.[11] In July 2021 Undead Labs opened a second studio in Orlando, Florida focused on developing animation technology in Unreal Engine 5 for Undead Labs as well as for other studios under the Xbox Game Studios banner.[12]

Strain left the company by October 2021 and founded another studio, Possibility Space.[13]

A 2022 investigation by Kotaku reported on a sexist studio culture, which was abetted by Philip Holt, the new studio head who replaced Strain, and then-head of HR Anne Schlosser.[14] Schlosser was removed after a Microsoft HR investigation. The toxic work environment, which continued after Schlosser's departure, led to a high employee turnover rate, especially among experienced staff. These issues, combined with a lack of design vision, contributed to extensive delays in the development of State of Decay 3.[14] Employees also blamed Microsoft for not living up to its goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion by not responding to reports of abuse in a timely manner.[14]

Games developed

Year Title Platform(s)
2013 State of Decay Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
2018 State of Decay 2 Windows, Xbox One
TBA State of Decay 3 Windows, Xbox Series X
Cancelled Moonrise Windows, iOS


  1. ^ "Birth of a video game: How a small Seattle studio creates a sequel to a smash hit — with Microsoft's help". The Seattle Times. May 25, 2018.
  2. ^ "Mmmm, Brains! Undead Labs to Develop Console-based Zombie MMO". Undead Labs. November 23, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  3. ^ "Undead Labs and Microsoft game studios to create zombie..." Undead Labs. February 3, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  4. ^ "Rude QA 2". Undead Labs. February 3, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  5. ^ Rosenburg, Adam (February 2, 2011). "'Class3' Coming To Xbox Live Arcade". MTV Multiplayer. Archived from the original on January 1, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  6. ^ McElroy, Griffon (February 3, 2011). "Jeff Strain Shares His Vision for Class3, a Different Kind of Zombie Game". Joystiq. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  7. ^ Weathers, Sanya (August 31, 2012). "Faq". Undead Labs. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  8. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (January 11, 2014). "State of Decay dev signs multi-year agreement with Microsoft". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  9. ^ Sarkar, Samit (April 20, 2014). "State of Decay's Lifeline DLC is just the start of Undead Labs' 'long-term ambitions'". Polygon. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  10. ^ Minotti, Mike (June 10, 2018). "Microsoft acquires State of Decay 2 studio Undead Labs". VentureBeat. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  11. ^ Kim, Matt (July 23, 2021). "State of Decay 3 Announced". IGN. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  12. ^ Polumba, Alessio (January 3, 2022). "New Undead Labs Team to Focus on Cross-Studio Animation Technology for Xbox Game Studios". wccftech. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  13. ^ McCaffrey, Ryan (October 13, 2021). "State of Decay Studio Founder Jeff Strain Starts New Studio, Possibility Space". IGN. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c Gach, Ethan (March 31, 2022). "Allegations Of Sexism, Bullying, And Burnout: Inside The Microsoft Studio Behind State Of Decay 3". Kotaku. Retrieved March 31, 2022.