I was recently listening to a podcast talking about why doesn’t Xbox just let there developers develop what they want and how it seems that there is always a lot of overlap between what Xbox wants and the types of games they produce, hinting at Xbox influencing development too much: (Crackdown 3 - Cloud), ( Quantum Break - TV), (Halo Infinite/Sea of Thieves - Live Service).
But personally I think kinda the opposite. Xbox gives a little too much freedom to develops which is why we see so many different kinda games being made and of varying levels of polish/quality. Sony is (to me) gaming there game studios more formulaic, making game development easier and quality more consistent. Xbox has studios doing completely different game styles, which I imagine it would make it harder to manage so many different projects. I like that games are so diversity in Xbox’s side because I like to play all types of games, but that’s why Xbox games are seem more like a spin of the wheel.
I think this is one of those things that as outsiders we will never really know, and people are only too happy to fit reality around their preferred narrative (if I like the finished product, it’s because Microsoft left the dev alone, and if I don’t like the finished product, it’s because Microsoft interfered, regardless of what the actual situation was).
Just look at this week’s Anthem news with so many commenters saying things like “The game would have been awesome if only EA had left BioWare alone” when the reality is probably closer to the opposite. BioWare had no vision or direction for the game and the flying-- the one thing that almost everyone agrees is the best aspect of the game-- was something that EA mandated after BioWare couldn’t decide.
In the late Xbox 360 and Xbox One era they definitely were very hands on. Fable Legends screams Microsoft trying to force a live service in a franchise that doesn’t need to be one. Not to mention Rares move to Kinect games.
I don’t think people at Obsidian, inexile, or double fine would sell up to MS if that was the case honestly. The more teams they have I feel like the less they would even have to do that in the first place. Say they had 50 teams they could put a call out to all of them and say ok guys we are missing our targets for a live service does anyone have a good idea for one. In those 50 teams that surely would have an idea then they’ll have that marked off.
At the end of the day there is no way we can know this for sure, unless there is mass exodus’s from their teams then maybe this is true.
I actually think this is a hilarious topic. Lots of the community couldn’t decide for years (and still can’t) if Xbox giving their studios creative freedom was a good or a bad thing.
Lots of people screamed ‘more creative freedom!’ In response to the game drought of HaloForzaGears, but then when we started seeing more unique titles like Sea Of Thieves, Ori and State of decay is was all of a sudden ‘NoT ThoSe GaMeS!!!1!’.
Yes, the studios need as much creative freedom as possible, goals are healthy and whoever is overseeing them needs to have a good eye for what looks good and what doesn’t, and communicating that to the team.
Quality Control is obviously something Sony have done to an absolute art. It’s been said before that Sony gets independent reviewers to come in and provide them with a score and some feedback so that they can adjust and be proactive. I feel like Xbox need to do this if they don’t already.
I believe that Microsoft should let the development studios create and develop the games that they want to actually do but at the same time, need to be more hands on in regards to how the game(s) are progressing.
I do wonder if Phil Spencer saw the Halo Infinite trailer last year because either way concerns me. If he did and thought it was good enough to be shown publicly, OUCH. If he didn’t see it, also OUCH because why isn’t he looking into all the studios in regards to how the games are progressing?
Like, he should want an update every three months minimum. And for games that are further along, he should see gameplay of it and more importantly, play it for himself to see how it’s running, how it looks, how it feels to play, etc.
So basically give the studios freedom in regards to their ideas/vision/etc. but once it’s greenlighted and in full production, start cracking the whip a little bit and be a little more hands on not with how the game is being made or wanting to make changes but how the studio is progressing with development. Do you guys need more money, time or resources? Of course they probably all do but to me, play time is over.
They need to show what they got, what the can do and if they can get to the high quality level of Sony, Nintendo and Rockstar.
Also, Phil/Matt need to make sure that they don’t look at Game Pass as “a way out” meaning this game needs six more months but it’s in Game Pass, let’s release it anyway.
This is how I see it and just have to wait and see how it all plays out over the course of this generation.
They used to be super hands on, then Mojang happened. Now they seem to be very hands off and only get involved when absolutely necessary (see Halo Infinite). Now, the one area they seem to still be hands on is in terms of dating games, but I think their size have now emboldened them to give games the time they need (see Halo, Wasteland which yes was still buggy but also super ambitious proportional to budget and engine, Psychonauts). State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves were not primetime ready but rushed out anyways because first party was barren, now starting later this year it won’t be.
Also, they need to stop showing games so freaking early. Sony does this but can get away with it because outside of Days Gone, what first party title had launch issues for PS4? It’s like almost none. Same with Nintendo. You know what you’re getting from them and that’s why their respective fanbases are never worried or concerned.
With Microsoft over the last decade, it’s more of the opposite with the majority of their games. I understand they want to show what the roadmap is but gamers aren’t stupid (they only act fucking stupid), they see the studios that you have and they know games will be coming.
Show the games when they’re ready to be shown and more importantly, when they’re at the level of quality and polish and design to where you know nothing is changing (unlike Crackdown 3 for example) because that will in turn give your fan base and gamers/consumers in general more confidence in your games and eco-system.
It may sound stupid but it truly all is a domino affect. You can have the first few standing up perfectly fine but then something goes wrong with domino #7 or some shit and all that follows after it falls down. The goal is to get to the last domino (which would be the end point of game releasing as close to flawless as possible) with them all still standing up.
You need to remember Xbox was made by MP games and that will always be in their DNA they bloody made console online gaming common place with XBL. A game can have a great SP and MP, most of their games have both too.
I think many of us can recall that moment where CliffyB was met with resistance in regards to the chainsaw gun in Gears, from an MS rep.
When playing through Sunset Overdrive, there was a lot of poking fun at the usage of focus groups and meddling reps.
So it’s sort of felt like there was a bit too much involvement. But looking over the last three years I feel like there has been a complete shift in this regard and it may have to do with Matt Booty’s leadership and philosophies.
I get the feeling that they’re in a really good spot right now where any involvement comes through feedback that isn’t enforced, where support to achieve the developers vision is the extent of their involvement.
Well, they lost this one already lol.
But, I’m ok with it, they just need to show that these games are going to live up to their CG trailers somehow, just give then time and be sure they’re not putting themselves in some dev hell.
just to add to this (I agree with everything you said), taking a hands off approach with first party studios was microsofts approach in the early days, until lionhead started missing deadlines because of Peter Molyneux, it was only then that they started meddling with projects. Hopefully all that is behind them now and even if a single studio needs extra attention for some reason, that the extra attention doesnt extend to the rest of the teams
Much of that criticism you are referencing was made up out of whole cloth. Rare wanted to make SoT for a looooooooong time. They also wanted to make Kinect Sports. Halo Infinite isn’t a live service game. Getting updates post-launch doesn’t make something live service. Quantum Break is what Remedy wanted to make too. It’s the natural extension of their longstanding transmedia push in their games dating back to Max Payne and continued in Control.
It is clear that MS lets devs do what they want. I think the way things are going now is perfect tbh. Seems like more and more studios are forming multiple new small teams and more studios are working with each other to get stuff done at high quality. On the one hand, ya got Bleed Edge kinda stuff that won’t light the world on fire but on the other ya get stuff like Grounded and Everwild. I think this will work out really, really well for MS in the future to keep things as they are now.
I’d love to see Coalition and 343 have new IP’s from smaller secondary teams.