Phil Spencer defends Halo’s future amid cutbacks and criticism

Phil Spencer defends Halo's future amid cutbacks and criticism
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The Master Chief looks out from his ship at what might have been.

Picture: 343 Industries / Microsoft

Things haven’t been going very well for Xbox recently. Microsoft is facing stiff resistance in its bid to acquire Activision Blizzard. He barely released big exclusive blockbusters last year. And you just cut more than 10,000 jobs last week, including many senior developers a infinite halo study 343 Industries. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer tried to stay upbeat and do damage control on each of these points and more. in a new interview with IGN.

“Every year is critical,” he said. “I don’t find this year to be more or less critical. I feel good about our momentum. Obviously we’re going through some adjustments right now that are painful, but I think they’re necessary, but it’s really to set us and the teams up for long-term success.”

This week captured both the guardrail and the promise facing Xbox right now. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a drop in net income of 12 percent for the most recent fiscal quarter compared to the prior year. Xbox gaming hardware and software fell by similar percentages, and Microsoft was silent on how many new subscribers its Game Pass service had gained since it crossed the 25 million mark exactly one year ago.

Then on Wednesday, Microsoft provided a sleek, streamlined look at its upcoming games in a Developer Direct live stream Copied directly from the Nintendo Playbook. Forza Motorsport It was apparently quietly delayed until the second half of the year, but it looked like a beautiful and impressive racing sim masterpiece. Arkane’s cooperative sandbox vampire shooter red drop it has a release date of May 2. Real-time strategy spin-off minecraft legends It will arrive in April. And to top it off, Tango Gameworks, creator of the evil withinunder the shadow hifi fever on Game Pass, a colorful left-field action-rhythm game that has already become the first undisputed hit of gaming of 2023.

Hi-Fi Rush hero jumps through the colorful city skyline.

screenshot: Tango Games / Bethesda

“2022 was too light on games,” Spencer confessed in his IGN interview. 2023 shouldn’t be thanks to Redfall and Starfield, Bethesda’s much-anticipated answer to the question, “What if Skyrim but space?” But both of those games were technically supposed to come out last year. Meanwhile, Hi-Fi Rush, like Obsidian’s penance Before, it’s shaping up to be a critically acclaimed Game Pass release that might still be too small to move the needle on the big Xbox fortunes.

Spencer remained vague when asked how successful these games were or their impact on Game Pass, the growth of which has reportedly stalled on console. “I think creative diversity expands for us when we have different ways for people to pay for the games they’re playing, and subscription definitely helps there,” he said.

hifi fever, red drop, star fieldand a new the elder scrolls online expansion planned for June are also all of bethesdathat Microsoft finished acquiring in 2021. Microsoft’s older first-party game studios have been relatively quiet in recent years as they worked on their next big projects, or, in the case of 343 Industries, were recently hit with a surprising number of layoffs. .

Following news of the cuts last week, rumors and speculation began to surface that 343 Industries, which shipped a well-received Halo Infinite single-player campaign in 2021 but struggled with seasonal updates for the multiplayer component in the months later, he was being benched. . studio shut down a short statement over the weekend saying aura It is here to stay and it will continue to develop.

A Starfield turn awaits the game's new release date.

Picture: Bethesda/Microsoft

Spencer doubled down on that in her interview with IGN, but provided little information about the reasoning behind the layoffs or what his plans were for moving the franchise forward. “What we’re doing now is making sure that the leadership team is set up with the flexibility to build the plan that they need to build,” he said. Y aura It will continue to be vital to what Xbox is doing, and 343 is vital to the success of Xbox. aura.”

Where infinite halo‘s previously promoted 10 year plan fits into that, however it remains unclear. “They have a few other things, some rumored, some announced, that they’ll be working on,” Spencer said. And about the future of the series as a whole, he simply said, “I hope we continue to support and grow.” aura as long as the Xbox is a platform for people to play games on.” It’s hard to imagine Nintendo talking about Mario with a similar-sounding lack of conviction.

Microsoft’s ongoing struggles with some of its internal projects may be part of the reason it’s so focused on seeking help outside the company. Currently, that means trying to acquire Activision Blizzard for $69 billion and fighting an antitrust lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission in the process. Microsoft had originally promised the deal to get obligations, Devil, world of warcraftY Candy Crush would close before the end of summer 2023. That deadline is fast approaching, even as the company continues to offer commitments, such as supposedly giving Sony the option keep paying to have Activision games on its rival Game Pass subscription service, PS Plus.

Spencer said IGN he remains optimistic about closing the deal, despite stating that he knew nothing about the logistics of doing it when he started a year ago. “Because a year ago, for me, I didn’t know anything about the process of doing an acquisition like this,” he said. “The fact that I have more insight, more knowledge about what it means to work with different regulatory boards, I’m more confident now than I was a year ago, just based on the information I have and the discussions we’ve been having.”

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