I’m taking this Scalebound cancellation very poorly.
It honestly never even crossed my mind that Microsoft would outright the game after four years of development. I knew there were development issues, and talked about how Kamiya was probably being forced to do things he wasn’t comfortable with.
But I never thought the game was going to be CANCELLED. I bought an Xbox for this game, for crying out loud. I had a lot of faith in Kamiya to deliver, and I knew he could have done it, but Microsoft are such incompetent producers that it’s impossible for anything to get made under their supervision.
It’s incredible to me that Microsoft is constantly announcing games that are never going to see release. For comparison’s sake, I can think of ONE TIME Nintendo cancelled a game following it’s official announcement. Project H.A.M.M.E.R. That game’s cancellation has led to hilarious conspiracy theories about Nintendo’s handling of NST. There are some truth to those rumors, Nintendo spent the following decade restructuring NST to deal with the issue there, and it’s starting to seem like we may see a new Wave Race for the Switch. Meanwhile Microsoft (And to a lesser extent Sony) vastly mistreat any of their teams that release underperforming products.
It’s always amused me to see people try and pretend that Nintendo is the company who mistreats their talent creatively when it’s companies like Microsoft who are constantly shutting down projects like this mid development. Kamiya and other Platinum Games employees are reportedly taking extended vacations because the project was just so stressful for them. There is no doubt in my mind that this project was going badly from the very beginning. Kamiya was pretty clear about that, whenever he let something slip.
And this is what I want to talk about today: How Xbox simply CANNOT treat any talent under them with any degree of respect. .This kind of situation, whether from the Lost Oddyssey devs, the Halo devs, or now Platinum is typically swept under the rug by the media. “Oh, maybe the game wasn’t good, the devs weren’t making deadlines, they were taking too long….” We’re already seeing this with Arthur Gies from Polygon. The genius who gave Bayonetta 2 a 7.5 because he hated that she was sexy is now trying to shift the blame onto Platinum for not doing what Microsoft wanted them to do.
Here, Mr. Gies. Let me outline Kamiya’s output in the last several years. Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Okami, Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101…
All of which went on to be massive cult classics. There are people online right now clamoring for a real sequel to DMC and Viewtiful Joe. Bayonetta was a great enough IP to make it into Smash, and The Wonderful 101 is one of my personal favorite games ever. Are you really going to try and write off this game being cancelled as being Platinum’s fault?
The real problem is clearly with Microsoft. But now that we have outlined whose fault it was, just what is the problem anyway?
Simply put, Microsoft has no idea what they are doing.
I am really no exaggerating when I say that Microsoft is and always has been dead last in the console race. The amount of cash they have to fork around to remain as competitive as they do is absolutely unbelievable. We’ve already talked about how Sony had to pay established third party devs with a strong following on Nintendo consoles to make the jump to Playstation. Microsoft has to do the same thing now, and near constantly. Their attempts at getting real support for their system… building their own first party studios, forming relationships with quality second party developers, and getting equal support with Playstation… as always ended in disaster. Fable, their answer to Zelda, is no more. Mass Effect, which was originally a 360 exclusive, eventually made the jump to Playstation as well. Halo, their bread and butter, the franchise that ushered in the age of online play… was out performed by Splatoon, a Wii U exclusive, and received poor reviews. They even messed up the release of the collection!
Microsoft simply does not have the creative energy in it’s management team. Is everyone who work on the games themselves talentless? No, of course not. Plenty of them have a history of putting out great content under other publishers. But we are, and have been for quite some time, seeing a pattern when it comes to this sort of thing. Microsoft cannot MANAGE video game development. Every time they try ends in disaster. They don’t seem to understand that some titles, like Scalebound, don’t need to appeal to their core audience of shooter fans can just be… you know, creative.
Here’s another thing that I need to point out: People seem to be under the impression that Phil Spencer is this really great guy who’s trying to right a sinking ship. NO. This is not the case. All Microsoft has changed when it came to their change in leadership was their PR. They were trying to change people’s minds about the Xbone and get people interested in supporting the company again after the shit they tried to pull at the reveal. Nothing about Spencer’s reign at Xbox seems to indicate that their actual management is changing. Think about all the things Xbox has done in the past several years, since he took over. Not much of anything, right? And now we have projects that have been in development for years going being cancelled, including the ONE GAME I bought an Xbox One for.
I think people aren’t being critical enough of Microsoft. I find it baffling how so many people really did believe they were ‘going to change’ after the well deserved backlash towards the Xbox One reveal. They haven’t done shit besides switch some people around and start rethinking their PR strategy. Games are not being made, the Xbox is still not a particularly attractive platform, they are pumping out a completely new Xbox that we still no nothing about… and we’re supposed to believe they’re doing well?
Xbox is an irrelevant brand. They are fading fast and there’s no real hope of recovery for them. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ they will spin out Xbox… it’s a matter of how exactly they will do it.
If they keep going down this path they will lose all the good will they built up last gen for being the more reasonable alternative to the PS3 (Until they started breaking, anyway…) and breaking new ground with online play. They simply aren’t delivering that kind of quality anymore, and are unable to grow relationships with people who can.
I strongly suspect that Scorpio, whatever it is, isn’t going to do so hot. The ‘We need MORE POWER’ guys who think people flock to the biggest, most powerful hardware on the market have no idea what they’re talked about. Like the PS4 Pro, it has no real reason to exist and people will treat it as just another Xbox model.
I think Xbox and to a slightly less extent Playstation are desperate to really get people fired up about their products again. This generation has been nothing but a disaster all around so far (Unless you are a Nintendo fan) and they know it, even if they aren’t publicly admitting it. Scalebound merely existing made me think that Microsoft was genuinely interested in making a great action for their platform, but seeing it cancelled this way made me realize just how hollow of a promise it was from the beginning.