Xbox No Longer Has Its Head In The Game

Don't think these guys are using logical reasoning anymore.

Story Highlights

  • Xbox seems to have learned nothing after the Lionhead debacle.
  • Shutting down Tango two years after its acquisition is hypocritical in hindsight.
  • Companies are no longer considering the human cost of business.

Every day I wake up, the video game industry appears to have gone a foot deeper into the filthiest and most destructive pit known to man. This time, Xbox and Microsoft appear to be at the forefront of the “who gets to ruin the gaming space with the worst decisions ever” competition.

I don’t know if there’s some civil war happening within the company and frankly, I don’t care. All I know is that these guys have lost their minds and the ones on the frontlines have to deal with the full brunt of their bad decisions.

Xbox Didn’t Reflect Strongly Enough After Lionhead

What needs to be understood is that people make mistakes and that’s okay. The problem is knowing the position you’re in. When a company or a CEO decides to shut a studio down and then it hurts them a little, it’s nothing compared to the hundreds of people who just lost their jobs.

YouTube video

In its documentary from 2021, Xbox went over its life’s story. In one of the segments, Phil Spencer and Sarah Bond talked about a prominent moment in the brand’s history—shutting down Lionhead

We acquired Lionhead in 2006. Shut it down in 2016. A couple years later, we reflected back on that experience.”

According to Bond, the studio reflected on that arc and tried to learn from its mistakes. When thinking about what Xbox learned and how it tried to not repeat its mistakes, I don’t see how any of that was implemented to this day. Why?

They closed a studio two years after its acquisition.

What did Xbox reflect on? How fast it can close down another studio and put people out of jobs?

Not only has it been unable to produce first-party titles aside from Gears of War and Forza in recent memory but Xbox One faced hurdles of its own making at launch, Scalebound died, and the Xbox Series generation has been a pain in several aspects.

You have the Series S being stronger than last-gen yet significantly underpowered and holding back development. Then there’s the fact most, if not all, of Xbox’s major exclusives have been downright disappointing. Even the highly anticipated Redfall and Starfield failed to deliver.

But wait, one studio stepped up in a way many fondly remember—Tango Gameworks.

It released one of the most highly-rated games of 2023 and a GOTY competitor at the Golden Joystick Awards. A rhythm-action title that more or less left a mark and was one of Xbox’s highest-rated entries in a good minute.

Tango deserved a lot of good after that. What did it get? A closure notice.

Bringing The Hammer Down On Tango Is Asinine

I’m the last person to ignore facts and track records. When Forspoken launched in January of 2023, I had a feeling that Luminous Studio was going to tank with how bad that game was. Interestingly enough, it was re-merged with Square Enix. Even though the name died, the employees presumably didn’t lose their jobs.

Hi-Fi Rush was pure creative goodness and shutting down Tango while subsequently demanding more games like this is baffling to me.
Hi-Fi Rush was pure creative goodness; Xbox shutting down Tango while subsequently demanding more games like this is baffling. | Source: eXputer

With Tango, Xbox and Microsoft seem to have exercised the pinnacle of wisdom if said pinnacle started from the bottom. Following the acquisition of ZeniMax Media in 2021, Tango has launched Ghostwire: Tokyo and Hi-Fi Rush.

Two games that were received well with the latter being a breakout hit for Xbox according to its marketing vice president Aaron Greenburg. Despite initial rumors of Hi-Fi Rush just not making the money it was supposed to make, official confirmation of this being false from the company itself has to carry significant weight.

YouTube video

After what happened with Redfall, Phil talked about developers and creative aspirations on the Kinda Funny Xcast. You can watch his response on the situation surrounding the FPS from 5:50 onward.

In his words, “One thing I won’t do is push against the creative aspirations of our teams.” When pursuing said creativity post-acquisition leads to such uncertain fates where flops and success mean the same thing more or less, are you crafting an environment where such imagination can be nurtured?

Moreover, when games succeed and somehow fail to meet expectations by “looking good on the spreadsheet,” studios get shuttered and people lose jobs.

I don’t see the philosophy of “accelerating a studio’s ability to do what it’s good at” playing any part in the decision of shuttering down Tango. Especially when the company says it needs more games like Hi-Fi Rush.

Masking Decisions Under Sweet Corporate Lingo & Playing The Victim Card Won’t Work This Time

But of course, you’ll have the post-decision PR damage control and shill pieces trying their hardest to set things right. Lionhead was followed by a documentary, Redfall was succeeded by a podcast, and now we’re getting misplaced support and articles.

The intent was already clear when Microsoft decided to let go of 1900 workers from its gaming division which isn’t a joke. Praising the talent in an internal email as you cut them off is possibly the most evil form of sweet talking ever.

I also have a personal investment in this as someone close to me was recently relieved of their post due to the industry’s downward spiral. This isn’t shallow, surface-level resentment for how developers are being treated. Despite having friends, if you’re the one sitting in the seat of CEO, you just can’t empathize with the person who was let go.

I’m Done With Xbox

This company has been getting on my nerves ever since it canceled Scalebound. With the disappointing generations, bland games, anti-consumer practices, and disregard for the workforce, I’m officially done with Xbox. Not that it matters. Those guys are still going to sit on their chairs surrounded by the big bucks.

If only Scalebound existed.
If only Scalebound existed. | Source: Microsoft

The last dregs that connected me to the brand are gone. I hope those displaced by this wave of layoffs along with the upcoming one find good work. 

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Saad is a News writer at eXputer. With vast journalistic experience working for a multitude of websites, Saad currently reports to eXputer with the latest news and dishes out his opinions on a frequent basis. He's currently studying Game and Interactive Media Design, which has further increased his knowledge about the ins and outs of the industry.

Experience: 1+ Year || Covers News Stories on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Media Science.

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