The Scalebound cancellation was one of the most public, high profile, and devastating game cancellations for Microsoft in a generation full of high profile game cancellations. It left Microsoft’s game output significantly diminished, and left questions about where Microsoft’s first party and exclusives portfolio goes from here.
Speaking on IGN’s Unlocked podcast, Xbox head Phil Spencer tackled the issue of Scalebound’s cancellation head on. ‘I will say, because I don’t want- I have learned some things from the Scalebound experience,’ Spencer said. ‘You’d think I would be smart enough to remember the learnings I have gone through every time, but sometimes when we start something new, we talk about it too early. People remember when we announced Ryse, when it was called Codename Kingdoms or something.
‘But then you go through this process in the public, of what does it mean to try to ship something, and everybody’s asking, because you’ve asked them to ask, because you’ve announced it. And, I’ve learned when we try to do something ambitious with a new team, or a new IP, I’d rather not run out there and put a target on it too early. I’ve learned that, and like I said, I should be smart enough to remember that, but if I take- Scalebound specifically, I love Kamiya-san, I love Platinum, I’d work with them in a second, I think they do great work. What we were trying to do didn’t work for us, and I think it’s a collective us. But the thing that caused me the most consternation about it was that we just put it out there for everyone to watch, when we start things in the background all the time. Like there was that Halo Kids project, what was that?
‘And, you know, game development is about creative push, and finding where the line is, and knowing what’s going to work, and what’s not going to work. So, investing in new first party stuff, absolutely. I’m probably going to be a little more careful about when we announce things- I know people will want a roadmap for the next three years, so that they feel proud of it. I’ll balance that a little bit.’
I do hope that he does balance it out a bit- Microsoft is on the cusp of announcing a brand new console this year, and you don’t sell a console on the promise of just the immediate games that it is launching with. Microsoft needs to come out with everything it’s got, to assure people that Scorpio will be home to the kinds of experiences that people can’t get on their PS4 or Switch- otherwise, those people will simply not want to buy one, because there will be no reason to.