Why Is Microsoft Erasing All Traces of Scalebound?

Why Is Microsoft Erasing All Traces of Scalebound?

Update: PlatinumGames has released an official statement and confirms the cancellation of Scalebound. Their statement is as follows:

“We’re sorry to say that on January 9, 2017, Microsoft Studios announced the cancellation of Scalebound. We are very disappointed things ended up this way, especially since we know many of our fans were looking forward to this game as much as we were.

Going forward, we will strive to continue delivering high-quality games to you, starting with NieR:Automata in March, and including products like GRANBLUE FANTASY Project Re:Link and LOST ORDER in the future.

We will keep working hard to meet your expectations and we look forward to your continued support!”

– President and CEO, Kenichi Sato

Original story: Yesterday, the rumor mill began churning that PlatinumGames’ 2017 Xbox One-exclusive Scalebound was in trouble, and was possibly canceled. Later that day, it was confirmed, via a statement from Microsoft to Windows Central, that Microsoft Studios has officially ended production on Scalebound. The statement reads as follows:

“After careful deliberation, Microsoft Studios has come to the decision to end production for “Scalebound.” We’re working hard to deliver an amazing lineup of games to our fans this year, including “Halo Wars 2,” “Crackdown 3,” “State of Decay 2,” “Sea of Thieves” and other great experiences. For more information on our 2017 plans, please visit: https://news.xbox.com/2017/01/05/xbox-closes-milestone-year-in-2016/.”

Xbox head Phil Spencer took to Twitter on the news and had this to say:

This, however, is not simply an end-of-production for the game—Microsoft is seemingly pulling all sources tying its name to the IP. Microsoft’s official website for Scalebound now redirects to Microsoft’s website. All official Microsoft footage of the game has been pulled from YouTube. Two other Microsoft exclusives canceled in the last two years, Fable Legends and Phantom Dust, did not suffer from the cut-and-run treatment that Scalebound seems to be getting. Both of these canceled games can still be easily found on YouTube—tied to the official Xbox channel, no less. Why rush to pretend that Scalebound never existed?

Let me be clear: according to the statement given to Windows Central, Microsoft never actually says the game has been canceled—the statement says Microsoft Studios has ended production. Keep in mind Microsoft Studios was the publisher of Scalebound, not the developer. For all we know, PlatinumGames could take its IP elsewhere (perhaps Sony’s stage at E3 2017?). Do I think the game is actually done for? Most likely. Turning the game into a PS4 exclusive would be an unprecedented move, but it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

More troubling, however, are reports that the game’s developers were worked ragged. According to a report from Eurogamer, members of the development team were forced to take month-long sabbaticals to escape the game’s hefty workload. The Eurogamer article also cites “issues surrounding the game’s engine” and “overdue deadlines” as contributors to the game’s end of production.

While this whole situation brings back memories of the Kojima vs. Konami debacle, I can’t help but think that this game will survive in some form—simply too much hard work has been put in for the developers to have nothing to show for it. While I think it unlikely that this game will survive—much less as a PS4 exclusive—I definitely think we’re not getting the full story here, and that is something we may never get. Microsoft entirely dissociating itself from Scalebound is certainly an unusual and concerning move, which is interesting, to say the least. As of now, we have many more questions than answers, but that’s generally how it goes in this industry.

First revealed at E3 2014, Scalebound was to be a 4-player co-op action RPG where players ride customizable dragons into battle. After being delayed, it was set for a 2017 release.

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