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Published on January 11th, 2017 | by gareth

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Why Microsoft Should Be Praised Over Scalebound By Someone Who Has Worked In Game Development

I initially intended not to do a reaction piece to the recent announcement that production on Scalebound had been canceled.  I figured that several publications would have already jumped on it and as such; I did not want to appear to be piling on.  However I do think that I have a somewhat unique perspective as during my early days of film and game coverage, I worked at two videogame companies including one which at the time was one of the largest game developers in the world.

That company was Sierra and from the Golden Age of the Apple computer onward to the PC age they had an extremely large library of award-winning games that spanned multiple genres and also included the initial Half-Life and its expansions where they served as publisher.

My duties largely involved quality assurance where I had to not only take calls and e-mails relating to problems people were having with various games, but I also had to develop fixes and anticipate problems that people would have with various games.  I also was heavily involved with testing many new releases and the marketing side as well and a QA lead on a couple on various titles.

I had done this type work prior at Monolith but never to the scale that I did at Sierra.  I do remember the day that Tribes 2 was assigned to me to be the primary troubleshooter for the game.  With less than one hour of time with the game I had already filled two sheets worth of bugs and other issues with the game and turned in my report stating that the current build had major stability issues.

You can imagine my shock when the next morning I learned that the game had gone gold despite various departments pleading with management that the game was not ready.  The fact was that the game had been over budget and over schedule as such it was decided to ship it as is and patch it into shape.

The fact that other games were already in development using the new engine was a big push and I can tell you that we saw a fivefold increase in our calls and significant increase in e-mail volume once the game shipped due to the numerous issues with the game.

Shortly thereafter the developers were shut down and a few months later the new ownership decided to shut down our office and centralize things in California.  Subsequent games at built on the engine were canceled and I still remember boxed copies of the game destined for stores were handed out to us.  The company also folded soon after as the new corporate owners had run a huge company into the ground with a series of releases that were of poor quality and riddled with bugs.

My point is that I’ve seen many games that were pushed out the door far from a completed state simply for financial reasons.  There comes a point in any development cycle regardless if it is a game, movie, television show, or piece of technology where a company has to make a decision if it is in their best interest to continue to pour money into something, release it as is and take the backlash that will follow, or to accept their losses and simply say this isn’t working cut bait and move on.

We may never know the full details behind the cancellation of Scalebound when considering the amount of time and money that had been poured into the game as well is the fact that it was one of the titles that was heavily touted at E3 and other venues, one has to simply believe that it was not progressing as needed otherwise a delayed release may have been the most likely outcome.  In situations like this quality of the product, budgetary concerns, and internal politics often are the biggest reasons behind product cancellations.  Knowing the backlash caused by the cancellation one has to assume that this was the lesser evil and that either releasing subpar game or incurring greater expenses during a delayed production run was the likely result.  In the end Microsoft made a business decision, right or wrong we may never know but one has to think that they firmly believed they had no other options and that additional development time and financial investment would not create a game they would be satisfied with.

If more developers took this stance then perhaps we would not have so many subpar games on the market and rather than condemning them perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt that the game simply was not viable.


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24 Responses to Why Microsoft Should Be Praised Over Scalebound By Someone Who Has Worked In Game Development

  1. hvd iv says:

    just chill people even with this game being canceled which i wouldnt havent bought it any way i dont like jrpg games we are fine on xbox.no one seams to care sony has had NOTHING since uncharted 4 thats worth anything and most of you cant even remember what game was launched before uncharted 4 a year before.

    so 1 just 1 exclusive worth anything and im not talking about that sub 30fps 10 year delayed games i said worth anything..lol

    1 exclusive thats good in over 2 years now and you people are on xbox’s case.please.recore,bq,forza h3,gears 4,dead riseing remake and people are giving ms crap?

    they need to go to the delay station so they can wait 10 years for an exclusive.xbox has destroyed sony in games in 2016

    • gareth says:

      Last I checked Sony outsold MS in 2016 and all other years save for a few months and I do not remember Sony cancelling games they were touting at E3.

      • Caleb Imrie says:

        Selling more doesn’t mean a damn thing. By that logic Call of Duty is good, and if that’s your argument I know you don’t have one.

        In terms of SOFTWARE sales Sony doesn’t do good. And a lot of the software they do “sell” is through bundles, including Uncharted. That isn’t good for the studios profit or theirs. It just satisfies share holders. Sony honestly hasn’t had a truly good game to play since BB, the rest was all ultra generic AAA crap with “but muh graphics” tacked on to con simps into thinking the game is playable at a mechanical and technical level.

        Microsoft, in fairness has also not done well. But in terms of attach rate software isn’t doing as bad, especially when both consoles are sold at a loss. (Selling more consoles is actually just burning Sony’s money). In terms of features Microsoft stepped it up this gen for a change. Sony lagged behind. Microsoft ditched Kinect (thank Christ). Sony doubled down on the awful VR scene.

        Sony isn’t doing a lot right, and people are seriously misreading “sales” as profits and/or quality. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Take a look at the IPhone. Sells great. Functionally useless compared to most of it’s competition. You need to brush up on what makes this industry tick. For all of Microsoft’s failings they aren’t doing horrible in a terrible economy WITH a major gaming software drought. Microsoft is beating the 360 in sales as it goes. The PS4 isn’t likely to beat the PS2 and it has zero chance in hell at selling near as many software units as the PS2 did.

        The only real way to see how the next year is going to go is to look at E3, and Sony is at a disadvantage as they make a lot of shovelware. Microsoft makes a lot less games, but a handful more playable ones.

        • gareth says:

          In business sales are what matters and you do not sell 50 million plus and maintain it if consumers do not like what you are offering.

      • So then where is Deep Down? We haven’t heard a thing in how many years?

    • GBIR says:

      Yeah, Sony have had some bombed exclusives (No Man’s Sky, The Order, etc) over the last few years, but it’s very easy to ignore other good quality exclusives you obviously don’t care for to make your point, as I could do for your list of Xbox exclusives that don’t interest me (all but maybe 2 of them).

      A bias opinion is never an accurate one, mine included.

      • gareth says:

        The story is about one game. Not Sony nor a body of work. A very costly misfire that MS stepped up and admitted it was failing rather than releasing a lacking game.

        • Jacques Jones says:

          They didn’t have to release a lacking game. There’s this thing called “delaying” that they could have done. I imagine that would have helped immensely in preventing the game from being lacking.

          Assuming it would have been underwhelming when released is just as silly as assuming it would have been the greatest thing ever. That said, the latter at least takes typical outcomes into consideration, while the former is mostly just an excuse.

          • gareth says:

            There comes a point where no amount of extra time and money can fix the project. That is the point: release a bad game or delay it and spend more money and still have a project that does not measure up.

      • Lawrence Mayo says:

        No Man’s Sky and The Order went platinum so no bombs. In fact No man’s Sky sold better than any XboxOne game last year. Unlike MS, Sony actually makes money off their games.

    • Lawrence Mayo says:

      LOL. What? Sony had the Show and Ratchet & Clank before Uncharted. The Last Guardian just came out last month, Gravity Rush 2 comes this month and Horizon comes next month along with Yakuza and Nioh. What has MS released since gears or before Recore? All of Sony’s games scored over an 80 on metacritic FYI so your 1 exclusive that’s good in 3 years is just fanboy babble. Are you on drugs?

  2. brad k says:

    In reality, this games cancellation leaves literally no games in the 2017 lineup worth a damn. The weakest roster of games for a year that Ive seen in my 30 years. Sea of Thieves can be played on pc so theres no reason for ppl that dont already own an xbox to get an xb this year. Ill be building a pc.

    • gareth says:

      That is what is so puzzling. They had strong sales and a new system on the way but now the focus is on the cancelled games and the reason behind it. Without anything major to play, what incentive to fans of their system and those on the fence have?

    • You’re falling for Sony’s marketing tricks. We don’t know what else MS is bringing in 2017 and Phil Spencer has already said there are unannounced games for 2017 and that he is not hyping Scorpio until those games are ready to show. The media just conveniently ignores that statement. Sony is showing CGI trailers for games like Death Stranding which began development this year and will not release before 2020. Last of Us 2 is also likely 2019 or 2020. Comparing MS’s 2017 output to Sony’s 2017-2020 output is pretty silly. I also notice that many the media are lying to fans and telling them that games like Shenmue III (which is not coming out in 2017 either) is exclusive or that Nier or Hellblade are exclusive when all of these games are on PC. Even Nioh is lableled a console exclusive and will likely be on PC. Sony dumped their entire catalog to kill hype for Scorpio and the media played along. Death Stranding even being in the discussion is so goofy unless we assume (for what reason I don’t know) that MS will have no releases in 2020. Lol.

  3. medman says:

    Praised? For canceling games and shutting down studios? What an apologist. It isn’t as if the few “exclusives” Microsoft has released have been of stellar quality…they’ve mostly been disappointing and lackluster, in both sales and reviews, i.e. Quantum Break, Recore, etc. It simply isn’t good enough. Microsoft is reminding me of a line from Uncharted 2….”you were right…everything you touch, does turn to sh*t!”.

    • gareth says:

      I do not like XBox and own a PS4. So….

      • medman says:

        Your statement does not refute my statement. You’re offering excuses for what many find difficult to excuse. It doesn’t make you right, it doesn’t make you wrong, it doesn’t mean I’m right, it doesn’t mean I’m wrogn, but it does tend to seem to be very uncritical of a company that has promised much and delivered very little, especially recently.

        • gareth says:

          I agree with that but I think having the guts to take the losses and bad p.r. versus releasing a shoddy product is a brave move amd one I wish more publsihers would do. Microsoft seems to have a knack for flubs just as they appear to be gaining sustained momentum.

  4. Jordi Geerts says:

    So why should we praise Microsoft?

    I read the article and while you give a plausible reason, nobody knows anything about it.

    Unless we get confirmation on what happened, nobody should be praised about anything. It’s just a sad affair.

    However, I would like you to consider that this cancellation does not body well for the XBOX division of Microsoft. It is no secret that XBOX is getting mauled and all they have to show for this year is 3 exclusives, 2 that were pushed back.

    Microsoft hasn’t been very clever with it’s XBOX division in general and now this? It will not store faith from both gamers or developers in future projects from Microsoft. Why invest in an XBOX Scorpio when they keep announcing games that are cancelled, mediocre or pushed back constantly? I think that’s the biggest reason people are a little upset.

    This looked to be a pretty cool game developed by Platinum Games, a well known developer studio for bringing great games to the table.

    I won’t lose sleep over this, but it does suck and unless we get something from Phil or Platinum Games, neither should be praised at all for this.

  5. Jacques Jones says:

    There is ZERO reason to praise Microsoft for canceling this game.

  6. Gims says:

    You did q&a but you have like 100 typos in the above.

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