“At some point, if I had to say it was a dead thing, I would just say it.”
When Microsoft announced Phantom Dust for the Xbox One in 2013, legions of fans who had greatly enjoyed the original title on the original Xbox found their hopes for a follow up suddenly, improbably, coming true against all odds- a Phantom Dust sequel was indeed going to be a thing. But then, rumors of the game’s troubled development started to surface, followed by the game being suspended indefinitely going forward, and at this point, a lot of people simply believe that the game is dead. But Phil Spencer insists that this is not the case- that Microsoft is still committed to doing a new game in the series.
“At some point, if I had to say it was a dead thing, I would just say it,” Spencer said in an interview with Polygon. “I do probably in hindsight, knowing everything I know now — which clearly I didn’t at the time when we announced it — I feel bad that we stood on stage and announced something that now we’re not delivering. That’s never my goal. But we had a plan to actually go build the game at the time. So I’m still encouraged.”
But why bother with a new Phantom Dust? The original game was a cult classic, sure, but it didn’t exactly light the charts on fire- and Microsoft’s franchise approach to first party development has shown us that they prefer big name hits more than anything else.
“I love Phantom Dust – I think the mechanics in Phantom Dust were ahead of their time, and I think about what today’s platforms enable and bringing that gameplay mechanic and story and setting to even, frankly, the 360 – and we kind of did that with the back-compat stuff we did then – but definitely today’s world would really help cement what that game could’ve achieved.”
Alright- so Spencer personally wants a new Phantom Dust game, and he says that Microsoft is committed to doing it eventually. But what is the game’s status right now? Have they at least found a new development team? What are they looking for in the studio that eventually gets the game?
“In terms of the studio that we’d find [for Phantom Dust], we’d want to find a good fit… I remember when we first announced that Killer Instinct was coming back, and when we announced who the developer was, we got a lot of ‘Oh, they’re not gonna do the job that everybody wants them to do!’ And I think when people saw what they were able to bring: Even though they didn’t really have a history of doing Killer Instinct, once we met with them, it was clear that those guys really got the IP.
For me, it’s more about finding a team that really gets the IP and understands what it is than where they’re from, and having [Yukio] Futatsugi-san involved with it would clearly help with making sure we don’t lose that,” said Spencer.
Phantom Dust is currently scheduled to release for the Xbox One eventually.