In the wake of Arkane Austin’s critically disastrous red fall, Xbox Game Studios CEO Phil Spencer spoke on the Kinda Funny Xcast about the reception and its development. He apologized for “disappointing the community” and promised to review Microsoft’s process while noting that review scores were “significantly lower” than expected.
Of course, the immediate concern is whether Bethesda’s Starfield could also suffer. That seemingly won’t be the case since Xbox did a “better job” assisting in development than it did for red fall.
“When we acquire studios, there are games in development, and then there are things that are either early in development or not even conceived yet. I think we need to improve in engaging with games that are mid-way through production when they become part of Xbox,” Spencer said (transcript via IGN).
Spencer also acknowledges that the company “didn’t do a good job early on in engaging Arkane Austin to help them understand what it meant to be part of Xbox and part of first-party and use some of our internal resources to help them move along that journey even faster. We left them to work on the game.”
Earlier engagement with studios works better, though. “But when [Xbox Game Studios head] matt booty [and Zenimax president] Jamie Leder sit down, I think we can engage earlier with our different studios. And I do think there’s a difference when we come in when the creative is already set on a game – and that’s not washing our hands, every game we ship from our teams is an Xbox game, so we take full responsibility for it.”
Since Starfield was earlier in development around the time Microsoft acquired Bethesda, Xbox was able to assist it better. This apparently wasn’t possible with red fallwhich was further along, but Spencer still says they for the team earlier.
“We should’ve been there for [Arkane studio director] Harvey [Smith] and the team earlier. I think that’s on us. And then through the process. It’s an Unreal game, we have a bunch of studios that have done some great work on Unreal over the years, and I think we were too late to help in that when they had certain issues.”
Starfield is slated to launch on September 6th for Xbox Series X/S and PC and launches on day one for Game Pass. On June 11th, it will receive “tons of new gameplay” at the Starfield Direct, which follows the Xbox Games Showcase. Interviews with developers and behind-the-scenes information are also promised, so stay tuned.