Can Xbox executives no longer be trusted to shut down the game studio they praised?

Microsoft’s games division came under fire on the 7th when it announced that Xbox executives would be closing four game development studios, including Arkane Austin, which developed Redfall . What was most puzzling of all was that Tango Gameworks, the company that worked on HI-FI RUSH, was also subject to closure.

The decision to shut down the two studios behind the polarizing works Redfall and HI-FI RUSH brings to light an uncomfortable reality. Microsoft is a company willing to reward both success and failure with massive layoffs and studio closures. Moreover, even at a studio that has received rave reviews for its work style, there is no peace of mind.

Can Xbox executives no longer be trusted to shut down the game studio they praised?

The example of “failure” in this case is Redfall. Although it was released to great fanfare by Arkane Austin, it was badly criticized by reviewers and ended in a huge flop. The title was in development before Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media, which owns Arkane, but Microsoft did not intervene to improve the game after the acquisition. Some say that Arkane Austin should be given another chance, as they are the same studio that made the critically acclaimed “Prey,” and I agree with them. As of a year ago, Microsoft said it had no intention “at this time” to shut down Arkane Austin. However, considering the disastrous result of Redfall, the studio’s closure is not all that surprising.

The HI-FI RUSH”: A Surprise of a Great Game Xbox

Tango Gameworks, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. “HI-FI RUSH” has been highly rated in reviews and has won numerous game awards, and can be said to be the best of the Xbox Series X/S exclusive software. Although founder and CEO Shinji Mikami recently left Tango, it makes sense that he should continue to develop his team to create even better titles in the future. But that didn’t happen, and Xbox’s only Japanese studio, Tango, closed down.

Can Xbox executives no longer be trusted to shut down the game studio they praised?

The problem lies not only in the decision to shut down the studio that made such a great game, but also in the comments Microsoft initially made about HI-FI RUSH. Xbox executive Aaron Greenberg said in April last year: “HI-FI RUSH was a huge hit on all important metrics and expectations for us and our players. We couldn’t be happier with what the team at Tango Gameworks has accomplished with this surprise title. 

Considering this statement, the theory that “HI-FI RUSH” was “a good work, but did not perform well” is clearly false . However, considering that Microsoft may have been lying is a different story. Therein lies the problem. The problem isn’t that Microsoft might make another stupid decision in the future, it’s that we can no longer trust what the company says.

Ninja Theory’s Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II

Gamers are now worried about the fate of Ninja Theory’s upcoming Senua’s Saga – Hellblade II. This work, like “HI-FI RUSH,” is small in scale, and the fan base of the first work is somewhat narrow, so it will not become a so-called “blockbuster” work. Additionally, since it will be released on the subscription service Game Pass, it is not possible to quantify whether it has become a best seller. Instead, Microsoft only publishes the total number of players and hours played, which are not very useful metrics.

Can Xbox executives no longer be trusted to shut down the game studio they praised?

Even if Microsoft were to say, “Hellblade II and Ninja Theory have created something amazing that exceeded all of our expectations,” Tango Gameworks, the company that made HI-FI RUSH, would be shutting down. If so, no one would believe anything Microsoft says. Xbox executive Matt Booty said the reason for the four studio closures was to focus on bigger games. Who’s to say that Ninja Theory will never be dismantled and its remnants sent to Bethesda to work on The Elder Scrolls VI?

Player trust in Xbox has been eroding recently. The company recently released a number of previously exclusive titles to the PlayStation, which could at least be justified. This decision to close studios such as Tango feels like an overreach to all Xbox fans and stakeholders, and has greatly diminished confidence in Xbox management.

Microsoft to close development studios for “HI-FI RUSH” and “Redfall”

Microsoft has announced that it will be closing four game development studios, including Tango Gameworks, which developed “HI-FI RUSH” and “GHOSTWIRE: TOKYO,” and Arkane Austin, which developed “Redfall.” Redfall just celebrated its one-year anniversary a few days ago.

Can Xbox executives no longer be trusted to shut down the game studio they praised?

The remaining two studios are Alpha Dog Games and Roundhouse Studios. The games industry has been undergoing a series of large-scale layoffs over the past year, and the closure of these studios is a significant and cruel decision. This also indicates that Microsoft has begun to “streamline” the game companies it has acquired up until now.

Xbox’s Matt Booty confirmed last June that there were “no plans” to shut down Arkane Austin, even after Redfall received harsh reviews. But about a year later, this policy was reversed.

Although Arkane Austin’s previous work had received critical acclaim, Redfall was a disaster. The game was a cooperative multiplayer game with live service elements, and received very low reviews upon release, and the number of players did not increase. A major patch was released last year to improve the game, but no additional content has been released. Along with the release, a “Hero Pass” was also sold that would allow two additional characters to be playable in the future, but its development has been discontinued. Arkane Austin says it will offer refunds to buyers.

Meanwhile, the closure of Tango Gameworks is even more shocking. The rhythm action game “HI-FI RUSH” created by the same studio became one of the biggest hits for the current generation of Xbox, leading to high praise from critics and numerous game award nominations and awards. I don’t know what happened within the company, but the departure of founder Shinji Mikami, announced in February last year, may have influenced the decision to close the studio.

Alpha Dog Games, which is also closing, is the developer of the mobile game Wraithborne. Meanwhile, Roundhouse Studios, part of Bethesda Game Studios, will not be shut down completely, but will be folded into ZeniMax Online Studios, according to Bloomberg News.

Arkane Austin reportedly lost 70% of its staff during the development of Redfall. Redfall was reworked several times before its release, and some believe that Microsoft, which acquired the company, should have canceled the game. It was thought that Arkane Austin would be able to overcome this failure and move on to developing other games (Arkane Austin is a different studio than Arkane Lyon, which is developing the new Marvel’s Blade), but that won’t happen. It seems so. Microsoft says some Arkane Austin employees will be transferred to other studios under Bethesda, but the Austin studio itself will be closed and some employees will be laid off.

Closing Tango is cruel. Unlike “Redfall,” “HI-FI RUSH” was a huge hit and can be said to be the best Xbox exclusive title of the current generation. Again, the specific circumstances that led to the closure of the studio are unknown, but there is no doubt that it was a poor decision.

Must Read: Garage Door Materials: Which One Is the Best for You?

Leave a Comment