Microsoft exec calls for “smaller”, “prestige” games the day after closing Hi-Fi Rush studio Tango

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Ah, it feels like only yesterday that Microsoft shut down Tango Gameworks, creators of Hi-Fi Rush, and now here’s Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, telling Microsoft staff at an internal townhall meeting that “we need smaller games that give us prestige and awards” – a sentence we might plausibly lengthen to “…like Hi-Fi Rush”.


See, these are the kinds of glacial changes of focus and ponderous shifts of strategy you often get at very large videogame publishers such as Microsoft. Trends are cyclical and corporations are sort of just these massive, sleepy hamsters, trundling around the wheel to rediscover practices and projects they once deemed bad for business. Hang on, let me go look up “yesterday” in the dictionary and fetch some sellotape – my brain appears to have exploded.


Passed on by the Verge, Booty’s remarks may have been taken out of context – who knows, perhaps he went onto add “…but not like Hi-Fi Rush, which we secretly fear and despise for its rad comicbook visuals and irrepressible soundtrack, even though we’ve previously said we’re really happy with its performance”. In any case, I’m sure it all makes sense from the vantage point of an Earth-sized spreadsheet with cells that need to turn green and lines that need to go up. Hi-Fi Rush’s director John Johanas has responded to the quote on Xitter, as below. He seems… nonplussed.


In case you somehow missed it, Microsoft sent an internal memo this week announcing plans to shutter not just Tango, but Redfall and Prey developer Arkane Austin (be sure to read Nic’s excellent “Post-It note” about the genius of Prey) and Mighty Dog Studios, while folding Roundhouse Games into Elder Scrolls Online developers ZeniMax Online. Booty has elsewhere told employees, again via the Verge, that “these changes are grounded in prioritizing high-impact titles and further investing in Bethesda’s portfolio of blockbuster games”. Microsoft are concentrating on projects that are “best positioned for success.” I’m not sure how much more successful Microsoft need to be, given that they became a trillion dollar company in January.

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The Verge claims that Tango were in the process of pitching Hi-Fi Rush 2 before they were canned. The studio deserved better. Best of luck to all affected.

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