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Microsoft Closes Numerous Bethesda Studios including Tango Gameworks (Hi-fi Rush) and Arkane Austin (Prey, Redfall)

It's a shame r/Games sees it as worthless. I get the pessimism, but tbh I've legitimately never seen an instance like this happening so I'll take any positivity I can get.

I'm still insane, so there's one thing I that's been stuck on my mind for a bit now, and someone help me understand this: Many people defend Matt Booty's wording by stating that Hi-Fi Rush wasn't all that small and was closer to a AAA game than an indie game. The thing about that is, that even disregarding Game Pass... Hi-Fi Rush was $30 at launch, and I don't believe it had any microtransactions.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but uh, AAA-tier games just do not cost $30 at launch - at least not without significant microtransactions.

For comparison: Grounded, Sea of Thieves, and Helldivers 2 are $40 with microtransactions, the upcoming Hellblade 2 is $50 - heck, even Metroid Prime Remastered is $40. There's also the fact that the game wasn't marketed at all - in fact, development was quiet because expectations were unsure due to how different it is from Tango's usual fare. In fact they were comfortable enough to shadow drop it on Game Pass to build word of mouth.

People use games such as Pentiment as a comparison, but at $20, the game isn't much cheaper to buy. Palworld is the same price as Hi-Fi Rush, too... it just doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps there's something I'm missing though.

From all accounts, while Hi-Fi Rush is a higher production value than most AA games, it certainly wasn't AAA. From what I've seen, it seemed to be in the same budget range as most Nintendo's titles like Princess Peach, LM, Kirby, and Xenoblade Chronicles. I've heard Xbox fans trying to argue that Hi-Fi Rush was AAA last year to pushed back against people saying MS haven't released a big title since Infinite, but I highly doubt it broke 100 million to make.

As you mentioned, HellBlade 2 seems to be an AA game despite its high production value thanks to its short play time and the fact it's being sold for $50. Which is funny because they tried to sale Redfall for $70. Palworld is so cheap because that game was made with super glue.
 
From all accounts, while Hi-Fi Rush is a higher production value than most AA games, it certainly wasn't AAA. From what I've seen, it seemed to be in the same budget range as most Nintendo's titles like Princess Peach, LM, Kirby, and Xenoblade Chronicles. I've heard Xbox fans trying to argue that Hi-Fi Rush was AAA last year to pushed back against people saying MS haven't released a big title since Infinite, but I highly doubt it broke 100 million to make.

As you mentioned, HellBlade 2 seems to be an AA game despite its high production value thanks to its short play time and the fact it's being sold for $50. Which is funny because they tried to sale Redfall for $70. Palworld is so cheap because that game was made with super glue.

Even if its short 7 years dev time with UK salary by around 90~ full time employees (assuming not all are on hellblade 2) excluding outsourcing stacks up (ninja theory last reported employee numbers is 120 on year 2020)

hi-fi rush took 5 years with tango gameworks having almost 150 full time employees (2023) but their team is likely cut in half due to ghostwire tokyo launching less than a year before


it largely depends on how much outsourcing both the production used but I think high chance hi-fi rush cost less to make than hellblade 2 just because of the less time to make it and the difference of UK and JP salary
 
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Even if its short 7 years dev time with UK salary by around 60~90 full time employees excluding outsourcing stacks up

But that wouldn't explain the $50 price tag. Because $70 is now the new normal for the most part, $60 is considered 'budget' outside of Nintendo and even Kirby and the Forgotten Land was $60.
 
HB2 is likely in the $70-100M dev budget, still AAA but on the lower end. Even something like Control/AW2 is AAA despite being $90M or so.
 
But that wouldn't explain the $50 price tag. Because $70 is now the new normal for the most part, $60 is considered 'budget' outside of Nintendo and even Kirby and the Forgotten Land was $60.
well hellblade 2 certainly isnt selling at 50usd from what we see what more at 70

they probably thought people will be incline to pick it up at this price

keep in mind TOTK was nintendo’s first 70usd game and it reused alot of assets from BOTW surely it cost around the same to make

Nintendo knows it will sell at those price so they sold it at that price
 
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well it certainly isnt selling at 50usd what more at 70

they probably thought people will be incline to pick it up at this price

keep in mind TOTK was nintendo’s first 70usd game and it reused alot of assets from BOTW surely it cost around the same to make

Nintendo knows it will sell at those price so they sold it at that price

Tears of the Kingdom uses a lot of assets from Breath of the Wild, but it also uses an advanced physical engine that allows Rewind and Ultra Hand to work without melting the game. And it did it all while keeping everything from Breath of the Wild and on a mobile chip from 2015.

This video explains it best:



Tears of the Kingdom also added seamless transition from the sky to the Depths along with a cave system that was too complex for the Wii U.
 
Tears of the Kingdom uses a lot of assets from Breath of the Wild, but it also uses an advanced physical engine that allows Rewind and Ultra Hand to work without melting the game. And it did it all while keeping everything from Breath of the Wild and on a mobile chip from 2015.

This video explains it best:



Tears of the Kingdom also added seamless transition from the sky to the Depths along with a cave system that was too complex for the Wii U.

I know but do you think the dev cost for those two would differ alot? in either price it will still sell a shitload of copies and nintendo knew they can get away with it so why not

lets go back to the topic of hellblade 2

microsoft knows they cant sell this at 60 or 70usd a pop
 
I know but do you think the dev cost for those two would differ alot? in either price it will still sell a shitload of copies and nintendo knew they can get away with it so why not

lets go back to the topic of hellblade 2

microsoft knows they cant sell this at 60 or 70usd a pop

Chances are, yes, because despite all the reuse assets, Tears of the Kingdom still had the development time of normal 3D Zelda game (5 years removing the extra year for polish). It wasn’t like Majora’s Mask where they got the game out in two years after Ocarina of Time.

Tears of the Kingdom was also made on a different engine (same engine as Splatoon 3) and built from the ground up for the Switch while Breath of the Wild was a quick and dirty Wii U port.

By the logic of “Nintendo can get away with it”, they could have sold Wonder for $70, especially off the hype of the Mario movie.

As for MS, I repeat, they tried to sake Redfall for $70 and had an $100 edition. And Hellblade 2 was literally the first game they showed for the Series. So how can you say they couldn’t charge $60?
 
Now that some time has passed I can comment a few of my thoughts.

So the purchase of ABK I found to be super dumb and serve no purpose in addition to just being bad for thr industry. But I think it's had the knock on effect of causing purchases like Bethesda to suffer because if as a platform holder you want to have a healthy system, you have to have exclusive content. Those Bethesda studios have mostly made well received games and what they needed was guidance and some stricter oversight so they weren't making shit that wouldn't be well received.

A 1st party has to be willing to absorb some misses financially in the goal of finding a hit. Hi Fi Rush was critically acclaimed. That's a really difficult part of the equation. The studio has proven it can make loved games. Now they just need help refining the process to make a good seller.

Microsoft gaming is grossly mismanaged. If they wanted to go on this stupid spending spree then they had to genuinely be willing to stick it out. They've shown the have 0 spine to weather the storm. And personally the output of their teams has mostly been horrible. Which is why shuttering an acclaimed studio makes even less sense.

Pretty much since the back end of the 360 era they haven't done much of anything right. They were posed to enter the Series S/X generation well but they didn't deliver any worthwhile experiences and nothing new or fresh.

It's really not fair that these studios who would have probably been given more rope under Bethesda have to be closed under MS.
 
Well, the silver lining with Tango is that the job market is so competitive in Japan right now, devs will have no trouble finding a new place and pretty quickly at that.

But yeah, the whole studio identity and stuff is definitely lost (unless they somehow decide to band and open up their own company).
 
Chances are, yes, because despite all the reuse assets, Tears of the Kingdom still had the development time of normal 3D Zelda game (5 years removing the extra year for polish). It wasn’t like Majora’s Mask where they got the game out in two years after Ocarina of Time.

Tears of the Kingdom was also made on a different engine (same engine as Splatoon 3) and built from the ground up for the Switch while Breath of the Wild was a quick and dirty Wii U port.

By the logic of “Nintendo can get away with it”, they could have sold Wonder for $70, especially off the hype of the Mario movie.

As for MS, I repeat, they tried to sake Redfall for $70 and had an $100 edition. And Hellblade 2 was literally the first game they showed for the Series. So how can you say they couldn’t charge $60?
Covid adaption is another cause for the delay of totk vs normal 3d zelda game

as for hellblade2 it being short and no replay value from what we know atm is likely the big factor with re the price

Redfall story mode averages 12 hours to beat plus it having multiplayer though redfall isn’t really a good example considering they have the gall to release it at that state lol at 70usd even

Anyways i dunno what are we arguing about considering they did say hellblade 2 has been in development for 7 years and we have the employee numbers for ninja theory as of 2020

Do you think they allocated more of their fulltime staff on a different project we haven’t seen? doubt it
 
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I wonder if MS is just too big of a company to be effective in something as high risk/low reward as a console manufacturer and platform holder.

I do think this is a strength of Nintendo, if they make a mistake they can more easily change course, not easily, but it can be done.

In comparison you have someone like MS which makes a mistake and it’s like trying to stop a fully loaded freight train going full speed, even when they see the tracks leading off a cliff it takes too long to course correct.

You see this a bit with Sony as well, it took what seemed like forever just to have someone say “y’know its probably not worth burning down our entire PC audience for a few PSN sign ups”.
 
Covid adaption is another cause for the delay of totk vs normal 3d zelda game

as for hellblade2 it being short and no replay value from what we know atm is likely the big factor with re the price

Redfall story mode averages 12 hours to beat plus it having multiplayer though redfall isn’t really a good example considering they have the gall to release it at that state lol at 70usd even

Anyways i dunno what are we arguing about considering they did say hellblade 2 has been in development for 7 years and we have the employee numbers for ninja theory as of 2020

Do you think they allocated more of their fulltime staff on a different project we haven’t seen? doubt it

Between the polish, Tears of the Kingdom would still be four years. Which is the same time frame as Skyward Sword to Breath of the Wild. Or Wind Waker to Twilight Princess. Both games got delayed a year.

Length and replay value rarely affects the price of a game. The fact is, no one is selling an AAA game for $50.
 
Do you think Phil was the one who used 80 billion?

Microsoft has trouble competing with Sony because it's about IPs, franchises, and market position beyond just a massive bankroll. And that's what these purchases are trying to fix for Xbox, and it's gonna take a while to see if it can work.

He didn't sign the check but he was the one that reached out to Bobby Kotick and saved him from the growing controversy over his scandal at the time because it was an opportunity for Bobby to sell and get his golden parachute. You'll also note that once the purchase went public, the scandal reporting stopped, so he got away without facing any kind of repercussions for his actions while getting 300+ million dollars as he left the company and that's on Phil Spencer. So yes.
 
well hellblade 2 certainly isnt selling at 50usd from what we see what more at 70
Wdym by that? Hellblade 2's price is $50. Or do you mean they wouldn't have been able to sell it for $70?
 
He didn't sign the check but he was the one that reached out to Bobby Kotick and saved him from the growing controversy over his scandal at the time because it was an opportunity for Bobby to sell and get his golden parachute. You'll also note that once the purchase went public, the scandal reporting stopped, so he got away without facing any kind of repercussions for his actions while getting 300+ million dollars as he left the company and that's on Phil Spencer. So yes.
Yeah but Kotick was always going to get a golden parachute no matter what. It just so happens it came from Microsoft. If they sold to someone else it would have came from them.

With that said, if my kids didn’t need Fortnite machines I would sell all the Xbox’s in the house. I’m so sick of waiting what feels like 10 years now for a big blockbuster Xbox title only for them to start dumping and closing studios. I can’t invest in MS anymore.
 
Yeah but Kotick was always going to get a golden parachute no matter what. It just so happens it came from Microsoft. If they sold to someone else it would have came from them.

With that said, if my kids didn’t need Fortnite machines I would sell all the Xbox’s in the house. I’m so sick of waiting what feels like 10 years now for a big blockbuster Xbox title only for them to start dumping and closing studios. I can’t invest in MS anymore.

Who else was going to buy ABK? Like, be real.
 
Wdym by that? Hellblade 2's price is $50. Or do you mean they wouldn't have been able to sell it for $70?
I meant looking at stats at steam it releasing in around 10days and not really getting traction what more on 70


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Mike Ybarra giving his two cents. The bolded/underlined parts are his, not mine.



Happy Friday. People have asked me what I think about the Xbox strategy and all this press.

Publications have asked me questions about Xbox. I 100% love Xbox and think Xbox can find a path to great success for their teams and players around the world.

100%. 110%! To answer some questions:

Xbox has always been accountable for its business. Even when it was small, or in the red, pressure exists and always will. I see some articles today with anonymous ex-Xbox'ers talking about the Board....I don't see this as "the Board" doing something different. It's not the function of a Board to be operators that dictate to business units and teams what to do day to day. Sure, pressure and stakes are always high and only get higher as you grow. I've never seen Satya dictate something top down - he questions and pushes but empowers his teams. He is a fantastic leader.

The idea of 'the market isn't growing' is a PR excuse. As a team, it's your job to drive your own growth even if the overall market isn't growing at the anticipated rate. I think it's more 'the strategy isn't working as expected'. Which is OK - strategies have to continually shift in a market that moves as fast as gaming does.

I'll say again, this all comes down to making great games. If you make great games, consumer demand will follow and your business can do well even in low market growth years. A great game is a $500M-1B+ profit generator for the business (across platforms). Given the size of Studios, you need to get to a world where a few of the teams are delivering against this at the right cadence (you don't need all your Studios doing big, huge games... and shouldn't as the risk profile is too large). After all, your install base is big right now given where we are in this console generation (and of course big on PC as well) so the opportunity exists for success.

If you aren't making great games then your hardware isn't selling, and your subscription is flatlining .... the clarity of strategy or execution is broken somewhere and needs to be fixed inclusive of ensuring leadership and team capability to drive great game development and growth. They 100% have teams who can make great games. It just isn't consistently happening.

I see two paths here: If your North Star is the Game Pass subscription, you have to take that exclusive to your services and HW and be all in across games, HW, and services in an exclusive 'go big' plan. Pumping regular 90+ rated games into this will drive consumer affinity and satisfaction. That said, it is high risk/high reward and takes a strong desire to win. If you're not willing to do that, then you're on another path: you're a Publisher across all devices and you need to embrace that 100% and be clear (likely means out of HW, I fundamentally believe if you don't have great exclusive content your HW is doomed as people won't understand 'why' they need it.). Being the world's largest publisher of games is a great spot to be in - as long as you can make great games. If you can't, you'll be right back where you started. You have the pick your lane and go hard at it for success, with clear communication to your players. If you play in the middle of these two paths, IMHO you'll hurt your teams and you'll have constant churn and chaos.

It starts and ends with a strong desire to win and making great games that exceed player expectations. That is what is fragile now and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

These are all hard decisions, it's certainly no easy task given where things stand today, and both paths have dramatic implications. But I fundamentally believe in Xbox, its fans, and the opportunity ahead for great HW, services, and games OR as a publisher of games and services across any screen. I'm cheering for Xbox and it pains me to see all the negative swirl. So for those asking, keep the faith in Xbox but ask for clarity on what the path forward is for the brand and product. Then make your own decision on what is best for you and your valuable time and money.

For those who think I'm one of the people talking to publications anonymously about Xbox, I am not. I was not a founding member of Xbox and I think by now you all know I won't be 'anonymous' if I have something to say.

These are just my opinions. This is the last I will talk about this here on X. It's easy to say what you think when you're not in the trenches living the reality of the challenges. I wish great success for Xbox now and into the future - it's good for gaming overall and I care deeply for Blizzard who is now part of the Xbox team.
 
Microsoft had with HI-FI Rush one of its rare critic darlings in this current console generation and they kill the studio behind it?
Even worse, they spend years talking about wanting more Japanese games on the platform and they shut down the only one they owned. MS had a well received first party japanese action game and they shut down the studio behind it when it should have been treated like one of its most important studios.
 
Mike Ybarra giving his two cents. The bolded/underlined parts are his, not mine.


With all due respect to Mike Ybarra: you had me until you said "this all comes down to making great games". If that's the case, then why did Microsoft shut down Tango Gameworks immediately after Hi-Fi Rush? Is your definition of "great" just a 90+ or higher on Metacritic? Hi-Fi Rush managed to stand out out in a year full of GOTY contenders and won a fair amount of awards, too.

I do believe that Microsoft is taking the path of being a publisher, and I agree about Microsoft having to make up their mind. But in both cases, you say that Microsoft needs to make great games to succeed, yet this is in response to Microsoft shutting down a studio that made at the very least a critically acclaimed game. Perhaps there's something I'm missing from what you're saying, though.

EDIT: I will give you this, actually - the only way Microsoft can really recover is if they start consistently making great games. From like now onwards. If the games aren't up to par at this point then the loss of Hi-Fi Rush'll be even more baffling.
 
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With all due respect to Mike Ybarra: you had me until you said "this all comes down to making great games". If that's the case, then why did Microsoft shut down Tango Gameworks immediately after Hi-Fi Rush? Is your definition of "great" just a 90+ or higher on Metacritic? Hi-Fi Rush managed to stand out out in a year full of GOTY contenders and won a fair amount of awards, too.

I do believe that Microsoft is taking the path of being a publisher, and I agree about Microsoft having to make up their mind. But in both cases, you say that Microsoft needs to make great games to succeed, yet this is in response to Microsoft shutting down a studio that made at the very least a critically acclaimed game. Perhaps there's something I'm missing from what you're saying, though.

EDIT: I will give you this, actually - the only way Microsoft can really recover is if they start consistently making great games. From like now onwards. If the games aren't up to par at this point then the loss of Hi-Fi Rush'll be even more baffling.

Part of it is making great games but they kind of need an identity, Sony are the movie games, Nintendo are the family games, with Microsoft buying so many different studios and publishers they kind of lost having a core identity. Even if they put out a good game like Hi Fi Rush the audience still don’t really know what to expect from them, because a couple months later they put out a Redfall, Minecraft Legends (multi), or a broken GAAS game like Forza Motorsport.

They used to have a solid core identity as the “dude machine” during the 360 generation. That’s where you go for online multiplayer and shooters, xbox live was peak online gaming days. Then they followed it up with having great third party support and exclusives, a lot of PC Oriented rpg and shooter games. Now it just feels like they are trying to do everything but nothing really stands out compounded with the fact that they are porting games to playstation and switch now.


They have Hellblade 2 coming out but does a game like that appeal to the core xbox audience? It feels like something that would do well on PS5. Instead of using it to get playstation players interested in xbox it feels like they are just throwing it out there and seeing what happens like Hi Fi Rush, they’re not trying to foster a new audience beyond the people who already subscribe to gamepass. It just leads everyone to believe instead of trying to grab the playstation audience they will just eventually put it on playstation when it comes time to actually sell it.

They went all in on gamepass being the netflix of games, “play everything, everywhere” but it feels like the entire experiment failed. I’m not sure how they pivot
 
He didn't sign the check but he was the one that reached out to Bobby Kotick and saved him from the growing controversy over his scandal at the time because it was an opportunity for Bobby to sell and get his golden parachute. You'll also note that once the purchase went public, the scandal reporting stopped, so he got away without facing any kind of repercussions for his actions while getting 300+ million dollars as he left the company and that's on Phil Spencer. So yes.

We know how gaming acquisitions work in MSFT. It directly comes from Phil.
Phil and his team put together a business model and deck and then send to the board for approval, so it always Phil would decided to buy ATVI. And he did at intentionally at the time the stock was down due to the sexual assault lawsuits.

Screenshot-2024-05-11-at-16-15-21.png


Yeah but Kotick was always going to get a golden parachute no matter what. It just so happens it came from Microsoft. If they sold to someone else it would have came from them.

Nope. All 5 companies that were interested bailed and none were going to give an all cash offer like MSFt let alone at $70B.
Phil Spencer and MSFT are the sole reasons Bobby Kotick got away and for $300M+ richer.

Without the acquisition, those lawsuits would likely have happened in the past two years and Bobby Kotick would have easily been pressured by shareholders to step down (they were already suing him for misconduct, which led to the 30%+ stock slide).
 
Mike Ybarra is right about some things, but I don't actually think there are only two paths open to MS. He acts like they need to get out of hardware if they become a mega publisher, but I don't believe that's the case at all. If they make a high-powered next gen console alongside a PC/console hybrid in the form of a handheld, I think they'd be in pretty good shape. It's not like they're selling that many consoles at the moment. By going the traditional route of making great exclusives, they'd still need to dig themselves out of a massive hole, all while contending with the Switch successor. How long would that take, another ten years? And how many more studio closures while they try to enact the same strategy that's been a loser for them for two generations. Sony's not even doing that well right now and they're selling far more consoles than MS. Game development has become so expensive and time-consuming that it necessitates different strategies.
 
With all due respect to Mike Ybarra: you had me until you said "this all comes down to making great games". If that's the case, then why did Microsoft shut down Tango Gameworks immediately after Hi-Fi Rush? Is your definition of "great" just a 90+ or higher on Metacritic? Hi-Fi Rush managed to stand out out in a year full of GOTY contenders and won a fair amount of awards, too.

I do believe that Microsoft is taking the path of being a publisher, and I agree about Microsoft having to make up their mind. But in both cases, you say that Microsoft needs to make great games to succeed, yet this is in response to Microsoft shutting down a studio that made at the very least a critically acclaimed game. Perhaps there's something I'm missing from what you're saying, though.

EDIT: I will give you this, actually - the only way Microsoft can really recover is if they start consistently making great games. From like now onwards. If the games aren't up to par at this point then the loss of Hi-Fi Rush'll be even more baffling.

Ironically being a video game publisher is the thing they struggle with, Xbox is actually really good at building console platforms, from the hardware to the online infrastructure.

Leaving the platform business which is your greatest strength and solely relying on your weakness would be such a crazy outcome, and like you said it may very well happen.
 
Part of it is making great games but they kind of need an identity, Sony are the movie games, Nintendo are the family games, with Microsoft buying so many different studios and publishers they kind of lost having a core identity. Even if they put out a good game like Hi Fi Rush the audience still don’t really know what to expect from them, because a couple months later they put out a Redfall, Minecraft Legends (multi), or a broken GAAS game like Forza Motorsport.

They used to have a solid core identity as the “dude machine” during the 360 generation. That’s where you go for online multiplayer and shooters, xbox live was peak online gaming days. Then they followed it up with having great third party support and exclusives, a lot of PC Oriented rpg and shooter games. Now it just feels like they are trying to do everything but nothing really stands out compounded with the fact that they are porting games to playstation and switch now.


They have Hellblade 2 coming out but does a game like that appeal to the core xbox audience? It feels like something that would do well on PS5. Instead of using it to get playstation players interested in xbox it feels like they are just throwing it out there and seeing what happens like Hi Fi Rush, they’re not trying to foster a new audience beyond the people who already subscribe to gamepass. It just leads everyone to believe instead of trying to grab the playstation audience they will just eventually put it on playstation when it comes time to actually sell it.

They went all in on gamepass being the netflix of games, “play everything, everywhere” but it feels like the entire experiment failed. I’m not sure how they pivot
This makes more sense, at least. People bring up Hi-Fi Rush not doing as well as expected on PS5, but that game screamed "Nintendo" to me, much like how you say Hellblade would do well with the PlayStation crowd should they port to PS5. A lot of people are/were waiting for a Switch or Switch 2 port of Hi-Fi Rush much like they were waiting for a physical version of the game.

What is the core Xbox audience at this point? It feels as if they're GamePass users, but as we've seen, while it's certainly a great deal for gamers, nobody's gonna be interested in everything. It lowers the barrier of entry for trying out certain games, but many people will ultimately still just buy it. Palworld despite being on Game Pass has more copies sold on Steam because that kind of game goes well with the PC crowd, for example.

So yeah, there's three examples of Xbox putting out games that feel as if they would fit a lot better towards other platforms. It really doesn't seem like they have a cohesive identity besides "everything everywhere" which doesn't seem to have gone well.
 
With all due respect to Mike Ybarra: you had me until you said "this all comes down to making great games". If that's the case, then why did Microsoft shut down Tango Gameworks immediately after Hi-Fi Rush? Is your definition of "great" just a 90+ or higher on Metacritic? Hi-Fi Rush managed to stand out out in a year full of GOTY contenders and won a fair amount of awards, too.
*Great games people care about
If you have a great game people don't care about. A great game people don't want to buy or play, it doesn't matter.
 
Mike Ybarra is right about some things, but I don't actually think there are only two paths open to MS. He acts like they need to get out of hardware if they become a mega publisher, but I don't believe that's the case at all. If they make a high-powered next gen console alongside a PC/console hybrid in the form of a handheld, I think they'd be in pretty good shape. It's not like they're selling that many consoles at the moment. By going the traditional route of making great exclusives, they'd still need to dig themselves out of a massive hole, all while contending with the Switch successor. How long would that take, another ten years? And how many more studio closures while they try to enact the same strategy that's been a loser for them for two generations. Sony's not even doing that well right now and they're selling far more consoles than MS. Game development has become so expensive and time-consuming that it necessitates different strategies.
I think it was John from Digital Foundry who mentioned some months ago in DF podcast how some indie devs are questioning about even porting their games to Series consoles purely because of the cost of porting and how abysmal their games have sold specifically on Xbox. Then we got a similar comment from Chris Dring during GDC 2024 about how one major publisher has said the same thing. With this in mind, it would be an even larger uphill battle for Microsoft to keep 3rd party support inline with PlayStation next-gen if they are:
a) doubling down on their multiplatform initiative,
b) mandate developers to yet again support two very distinct console models like they are now, and
c) all while having no guarantee that the next-gen Xbox console(s) would sell any better than this-gen

Part of it is making great games but they kind of need an identity, Sony are the movie games, Nintendo are the family games, with Microsoft buying so many different studios and publishers they kind of lost having a core identity. Even if they put out a good game like Hi Fi Rush the audience still don’t really know what to expect from them, because a couple months later they put out a Redfall, Minecraft Legends (multi), or a broken GAAS game like Forza Motorsport.
If you are into RPGs then there is no other publisher that has as many IPs and studios that cater to this genre. But I don't see the issue being related to identity. I don't think it's outlandish to say that most Xbox owners would consider 2021 to be the best year for MS games for a good while: Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft Flight Sim, Psychonauts 2, and Halo Infinite - all of those titles couldn't be more different from each other. And I think that's great. The more variety, the better. A far larger issue is Microsoft's inability to ship games in a relatively steady stream while also keeping the quality consistent. There is no excuse to ship broken games such as Redfall.
 
If you have a great game people don't care about. A great game people don't want to buy or play, it doesn't matter.
And that can be determined by brand strength, ecosystem, etc.

Case in point look at Wii U software vs their switch points

Is tropical freeze twice as good on switch? No but it sold twice as much. And that's not a one off story either, MK8, NSMBU, Bayo 2, DK, Splatoon, Smash, etc

Making a good game is certainly a necessity but it's clearly not the only thing.
 
If you are into RPGs then there is no other publisher that has as many IPs and studios that cater to this genre. But I don't see the issue being related to identity. I don't think it's outlandish to say that most Xbox owners would consider 2021 to be the best year for MS games for a good while: Forza Horizon 5, Microsoft Flight Sim, Psychonauts 2, and Halo Infinite - all of those titles couldn't be more different from each other. And I think that's great. The more variety, the better. A far larger issue is Microsoft's inability to ship games in a relatively steady stream while also keeping the quality consistent. There is no excuse to ship broken games such as Redfall.

The variety was one of the key selling points they had, but then you see them close studios like Tango that put out Evil Within, Ghostwire, and Hi Fi Rush and say they want to focus on high impact games. What does that mean for messaging around variety?
 
I think it was John from Digital Foundry who mentioned some months ago in DF podcast how some indie devs are questioning about even porting their games to Series consoles purely because of the cost of porting and how abysmal their games have sold specifically on Xbox. Then we got a similar comment from Chris Dring during GDC 2024 about how one major publisher has said the same thing. With this in mind, it would be an even larger uphill battle for Microsoft to keep 3rd party support inline with PlayStation next-gen if they are:
a) doubling down on their multiplatform initiative,
b) mandate developers to yet again support two very distinct console models like they are now, and
c) all while having no guarantee that the next-gen Xbox console(s) would sell any better than this-gen
Yeah, I doubt that they'd get the same third-party support, but I also don't think it would drop off a cliff or anything. Possibly just fewer Japanese games. I mean, their current strategy isn't working, so I'm not sure what they're supposed to do. The Xbox division has gotten to the point where it's not making enough money and closing down studios. A multiplat approach could at least help them grow, especially once they start releasing heavy hitters like Elder Scrolls, Doom, and Gears of War.
 
The Series may go down as the biggest disappointments in modern gaming. We have seen systems flop harder, but never one that started with such promise.
 
So Microsoft gaming now has 30 000 employees. Bigger than Sony gaming and Nintendo combined. No wonder higher ups at Microsoft are getting impatient. Its just an enormous failure to be outclassed by rivals with minimal resources compared to your own massive resources.

That is probably the brunt of the issue. Microsoft gaming has gone from being comparable to their rivals when it comes to resources being spent and the size of their teams to now have grown to be far bigger than them. The only thing is that when it comes to revenue and profit the much larger size of Microsoft gaming has not led to any sort of market dominance, which the higher ups at Microsoft think should be a given due to the size of their expansions and investments in gaming.
 
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The variety was one of the key selling points they had, but then you see them close studios like Tango that put out Evil Within, Ghostwire, and Hi Fi Rush and say they want to focus on high impact games. What does that mean for messaging around variety?
Cut down on variety to focus on more high-profile games. That does sound familiar. I disliked it when it happened with Playstation and the same notion goes for Xbox.

Yeah, I doubt that they'd get the same third-party support, but I also don't think it would drop off a cliff or anything. Possibly just fewer Japanese games. I mean, their current strategy isn't working, so I'm not sure what they're supposed to do. The Xbox division has gotten to the point where it's not making enough money and closing down studios. A multiplat approach could at least help them grow, especially once they start releasing heavy hitters like Elder Scrolls, Doom, and Gears of War.
Definitely and that is what leaves me puzzled as well. There doesn't seem to be any obvious answer to go from here and I don't think Microsoft/Xbox has a clear vision either, which just further erodes my trust to the platform. I do think the multiplatform route is the most obvious path, but this coupled with new hardware seems like a tough sell. Is it worth the research, manufacturing, and marketing costs to release next-gen Xbox console(s) that probably will sell even less than the current ones?
 
Definitely and that is what leaves me puzzled as well. There doesn't seem to be any obvious answer to go from here and I don't think Microsoft/Xbox has a clear vision either, which just further erodes my trust to the platform. I do think the multiplatform route is the most obvious path, but this coupled with new hardware seems like a tough sell. Is it worth the research, manufacturing, and marketing costs to release next-gen Xbox console(s) that probably will sell even less than the current ones?
Yeah, there's just no way to know which path is best for MS given the apparent roadblocks with each. The R&D costs for next-gen consoles might not be worth it if they're just going to end up selling 10 million after making their games multiplat.
 
Even worse, they spend years talking about wanting more Japanese games on the platform and they shut down the only one they owned. MS had a well received first party japanese action game and they shut down the studio behind it when it should have been treated like one of its most important studios.
they didn't say how long they wanted japanese games ;p
 
Permaban | Console war and drive-by posting, repeated behavior; third infraction in around three months
This is sooo sad. A developer needs to apologize to Xbox community because their game isn't on Gamepass. How Xbox fandom have fallen so low?

 
This is sooo sad. A developer needs to apologize to Xbox community because their game isn't on Gamepass. How Xbox fandom have fallen so low?


This dude's game is 7 years old and to this day he still is doing the same twitter marketing tactic huh
Also come on now it's one dude reading one comment on video, what is this about Xbox community and fandom? lol 💀
 
Mike Ybarra is right about some things, but I don't actually think there are only two paths open to MS. He acts like they need to get out of hardware if they become a mega publisher, but I don't believe that's the case at all. If they make a high-powered next gen console alongside a PC/console hybrid in the form of a handheld, I think they'd be in pretty good shape. It's not like they're selling that many consoles at the moment. By going the traditional route of making great exclusives, they'd still need to dig themselves out of a massive hole, all while contending with the Switch successor. How long would that take, another ten years? And how many more studio closures while they try to enact the same strategy that's been a loser for them for two generations. Sony's not even doing that well right now and they're selling far more consoles than MS. Game development has become so expensive and time-consuming that it necessitates different strategies.

I dont see any path that is without an unacceptable drop in profits (for C-level):

- publishing
Now your platform is gone, and no more income from third party sales. Your only choice is to focus on the parts of the business that are bringing in revenue; that is doubling down on COD and blizzard stuff. Cut costs where there is no net profit, close some more studios.

I think its a big hit that they want to dampen with hardware but this is the route they've chosen.

console/pc/handheld:

This doesnt make sense. Console/ pc means what? If its a PC, its a pc. X86 with windows. Your core audience is just going to load their steam games. There isnt't a platform play really, and it going to be more expensive. Lets see how a more expensive, less focused Xbox is going to do in the marketplace.

If its a console with PC hardware thats locked down and a thin OS, then whats the change?

Handheld same thing. Its going to be either X86 locked down/open ( locked down means perhaps cheaper, still some revenue from store, but how is that going to perform either in specs of saleswise. Open means it will just run steam, or whatever store) or ARM (and that opens up a whole new can of worms because you still dont have the games, you dont have a thin OS, requires even more investment by third party).

They dug their own hardware grave by buying ATVI. You can't expect margins or revenue even to grow on that investment in 2/3 years without keeping everything multiplatform and then it has next to no value for Xbox as a hardware platform. I think the plan was that COD on gamepass and streaming would lift up the rest of Xbox, but thats a HUGE gamble with an expensive project.
 
So Microsoft gaming now has 30 000 employees. Bigger than Sony gaming and Nintendo combined. No wonder higher ups at Microsoft are getting impatient. Its just an enormous failure to be outclassed by rivals with minimal resources compared to your own massive resources.

That is probably the brunt of the issue. Microsoft gaming has gone from being comparable to their rivals when it comes to resources being spent and the size of their teams to now have grown to be far bigger than them. The only thing is that when it comes to revenue and profit the much larger size of Microsoft gaming has not led to any sort of market dominance, which the higher ups at Microsoft think should be a given due to the size of their expansions and investments in gaming.

At the very least they expected returns that dont drag down the overall MS Margins. MS is (one of) the most profitable companies in the world, in all aspects (revenue but especially margins).

I think there is an expectation within MS that all products have SaaS like profile, and games just don't. Spencer tried to wrangle it in there with Gamepass and the streaming stuff, but that made little sense from the start.

I think I would spin-off XBoX if I were Satyanadella. Take the cash hit, but show increased margins for the year. Xbox stands a better chance if they're not beholden to the wims of MS shareholders.
 
At the very least they expected returns that dont drag down the overall MS Margins. MS is (one of) the most profitable companies in the world, in all aspects (revenue but especially margins).

I think there is an expectation within MS that all products have SaaS like profile, and games just don't. Spencer tried to wrangle it in there with Gamepass and the streaming stuff, but that made little sense from the start.

I think I would spin-off XBoX if I were Satyanadella. Take the cash hit, but show increased margins for the year. Xbox stands a better chance if they're not beholden to the wims of MS shareholders.
A Microsoft-less Xbox could only be a simple 3rd party publisher. Xbox relies on Windows for their operative system, on the Surface team to design their hardware and on the fact they are part of the same company as Windows to sell that many controllers.

Remove Microsoft from the equation and Xbox increases its operating costs while having to take on debt to fund its investments. Imho Microsoft should shut down the Xbox (console) division and make it simply the Alienware to their Surface lineup. And then, but I've been repeating this for years, invest aggressively into the Microsoft Store, which should be THE way Microsoft monetizes Windows
 
Jez Corden wrote an opinion piece today where he confirms there will be no red lines when it comes to Microsoft ports to other platforms:

The plan to move Xbox games to other platforms is codenamed "Latitude" internally, and I know there's debate and unease at Microsoft about whether or not this is a good idea. More upcoming Microsoft-owned games slated for PlayStation are already being developed. While it's true Microsoft is a prolific publisher on PlayStation already, it has typically revolved around specific franchises like Minecraft. From what I've heard, Microsoft is pushing for no "red line" for what games could come to PlayStation, and it all revolves around Satya Nadella and CFO Amy Hood's plans to increase every department's margins. And yes, obviously, putting Halo Infinite on PlayStation will increase profit margins. Sea of Thieves enjoyed the top spot on the PlayStation Store this past week. And in a perfect world, it's great that more people get to play these games. But we don't live in a perfect world where platform holders willingly collaborate for customers' betterment while competing on pure value. Like many of Microsoft's other recent strategies, pursuing this strategy is a short-term margin booster with long-term consequences. Yes, the industry is struggling, and Microsoft isn't the only hardware manufacturer that has seen declines. But destroying the foundational reason to buy an Xbox isn't the answer you give if you do care about the long-term.


If true, Phil Spencer only did damage control when he denied a few months ago that multiplatform would be their future strategy. To be fair to Spencer this strategy shift seems to come directly from his boss Satya Nadella over his head.
 
Jez Corden wrote an opinion piece today where he confirms there will be no red lines when it comes to Microsoft ports to other platforms:




If true, Phil Spencer only did damage control when he denied a few months ago that multiplatform would be their future strategy. To be fair to Spencer this strategy shift seems to come directly from his boss Satya Nadella over his head.
Fundamental issue is that exclusive games are not the driver of console sales anymore. That's all to it.
 
I dont see any path that is without an unacceptable drop in profits (for C-level):

- publishing
Now your platform is gone, and no more income from third party sales. Your only choice is to focus on the parts of the business that are bringing in revenue; that is doubling down on COD and blizzard stuff. Cut costs where there is no net profit, close some more studios.

I think its a big hit that they want to dampen with hardware but this is the route they've chosen.

console/pc/handheld:

This doesnt make sense. Console/ pc means what? If its a PC, its a pc. X86 with windows. Your core audience is just going to load their steam games. There isnt't a platform play really, and it going to be more expensive. Lets see how a more expensive, less focused Xbox is going to do in the marketplace.

If its a console with PC hardware thats locked down and a thin OS, then whats the change?

Handheld same thing. Its going to be either X86 locked down/open ( locked down means perhaps cheaper, still some revenue from store, but how is that going to perform either in specs of saleswise. Open means it will just run steam, or whatever store) or ARM (and that opens up a whole new can of worms because you still dont have the games, you dont have a thin OS, requires even more investment by third party).

They dug their own hardware grave by buying ATVI. You can't expect margins or revenue even to grow on that investment in 2/3 years without keeping everything multiplatform and then it has next to no value for Xbox as a hardware platform. I think the plan was that COD on gamepass and streaming would lift up the rest of Xbox, but thats a HUGE gamble with an expensive project.
I'm not sure how it will work, but I think they could sell 20 million consoles next gen even with a larger focus on being a multiplatform publisher. I believe they fully intend to make more hardware. In the long run, who knows, but it's clear that they need to do something different.

Jez Corden wrote an opinion piece today where he confirms there will be no red lines when it comes to Microsoft ports to other platforms:




If true, Phil Spencer only did damage control when he denied a few months ago that multiplatform would be their future strategy. To be fair to Spencer this strategy shift seems to come directly from his boss Satya Nadella over his head.
I'm not surprised by how fanboyish that article is. If the info about their multiplat plans is accurate, it will be interesting to see when they announce it.
 
Jez Corden wrote an opinion piece today where he confirms there will be no red lines when it comes to Microsoft ports to other platforms:




If true, Phil Spencer only did damage control when he denied a few months ago that multiplatform would be their future strategy. To be fair to Spencer this strategy shift seems to come directly from his boss Satya Nadella over his head.
Looking how Xbox consoles are selling at the moment I can’t imagine how poorly it will be received by consumers if they go day 1 multiplatform with their games.
 
Looking how Xbox consoles are selling at the moment I can’t imagine how poorly it will be received by consumers if they go day 1 multiplatform with their games.

They will go the route of whatever makes more money. They can’t continue to launch games only to pc and a console where everyone is playing on gamepass.

The shareholders mean more than the audience opinions. Ultimately no matter what route they take it’s going to anger their core fans because the install base isn’t large enough.
 
A Microsoft-less Xbox could only be a simple 3rd party publisher. Xbox relies on Windows for their operative system, on the Surface team to design their hardware and on the fact they are part of the same company as Windows to sell that many controllers.

Remove Microsoft from the equation and Xbox increases its operating costs while having to take on debt to fund its investments. Imho Microsoft should shut down the Xbox (console) division and make it simply the Alienware to their Surface lineup. And then, but I've been repeating this for years, invest aggressively into the Microsoft Store, which should be THE way Microsoft monetizes Windows

It wouldnt be that unusual to outsource (parts of) hardware design and license the OS. I would assume theres already some sort of cost allocated to the xbox division wrt those things. I dont necessarily see why they'd have to start with debt, you could spin them off with some capital included? You'd have to include all gaming assets like king and activision, those bring in enough revenue for it to be a going concern. Please correct me, this is all loose conjecture.

I actually dont think that is "the" move but its "a" move. I think your idea makes at least as much sense. IF they can do a better job with the renewed focus on windows on ARM, and actually change the store for the better. That last one would be my biggest concern. I still think they'd lose a big part of the livingroom market (its going to be pricier than an Xbox for similar performance at least), but if the interface is executed well that could be not as bad as I think now, maybe.

I dont think MS is anywhere ready to execute such a plan though.
 
Hellblade 2 shows the extent of Xbox problem. It seems like an expensive showcase title. Yet will sell almost nothing and lead to no uptick in Xbox sales and gamepass subscriptions. It will be outclassed in sales by a low scale paper Mario RPG shortly. Xbox basically makes pretty expensive games that can't compete with low budget Nintendo titles in sales potential, all the time.
 
I feel like Microsoft has tried everything but actually competently advertising the damn thing. I know in Europe Xbox advertising is absolutely minimal in comparison to stuff like Playstation and Nintendo and, like, why? 360 put up a decent fight once upon a time, even if it wasn't some gigantic success like it was in the UK and the US. Gamepass is genuinely just not known in the general casual sphere - that is literally the selling point of an Xbox at this point. And just... advertise the console more? Xbox's advertising presence collapsed in so many places after the 360, and that's not even counting the terribad names that Series X and Series S are. Just call it Xbox 5 and Xbox 5 Lite or something.

I don't think this would help much at this stage, but jeez they should've tried harder.
 
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