What does the cancellation of Scalebound mean for future Xbox exclusives?

The cancellation of Scalebound marks another dent in Microsoft's game publishing efforts. And while a shame, it's not entirely unsurprising.

2016 marked a turning point for the industry, and it has taken many gamers by surprise. With the rise of games like Overwatch, Minecraft, and even Halo 5, it's the Games as a Service (GaaS) concept that is now dominating the industry. Where in-game purchases drive a steady stream of updates, keeping players hooked for inordinate amounts of time.

While Scalebound did have a co-operative component, it didn't look like a game that fit well into this service-driven industry shift, and Platinum Games aren't really known for their efforts in this area. It should come as no surprise that every high-profile game in Microsoft Studios' upcoming portfolio is either multiplayer-focused or has multiplayer-heavy components. After so many risks on second-party studios failing to pay off, I think we'll see Microsoft pivot towards safer bets moving forward.

Is there less room for single player at Microsoft?

Launching any new IP is hard, but particularly so when it's campaign-driven. There are a few studios out there who are able to announce games only six months in advance, with very little active marketing, and can guarantee millions of units in sales due to a lengthy proven track record. There are tons of factors driving this, far too many to list out here, but they include things like the rise of Games as a Service, spiraling dev costs, learned discounting behavior sales. But, also, the competition is so fierce, and the bar has been raised so high, that the budgets and dev-hours needed to compete with some of our expectations is making investment difficult to justify.

Games like the Skyrim, Fallout 4, Grand Theft Auto, The Witcher 3, and more have set the narrative for what a single player game should be like (particularly open-world single player) that it's harder than ever for new IP to get a look in. There's a reason Final Fantasy XV underwent a ten plus year development cycle, undergoing various revisions, and came out looking just a little bit like every recent WRPG out there (and hey, it still wasn't perfect).

Even if Scalebound spent ten years in development and got up to FFXV's level of quality, FFXV is Final Fantasy, commanding legions of loyal fans (including myself) willing to look past whatever foibles the game throws up at them. The game has shipped six million copies and is on track to be a solid success story for Square Enix.

Square Enix also doesn't have the pressure of budgeting for platform features, future hardware revisions, accessories, and beyond. Microsoft Studios exclusives simply can't have FFXV-like development cycles, getting riskier and riskier and risker. And that's even before you mention the added difficulty of bringing new single player IP to market.

Good multiplayer experiences effectively market themselves, as players will attempt to rope their friends in to play with them. Similarly, established franchises market themselves. When you write "Fallout 5" down on a piece of paper and hand it to a gamer, they will pretty much have a decent idea of what exactly they should expect. Creating new, insular, single-player-driven IP is riskier than ever, and even more so when relying on a second party to build it.

Creating new, insular, single-player-driven IP is riskier than ever, and even more so when relying on a second party to build it.

Those heavy-hitting third-party publishers, building games like the next Elder Scrolls, the next Grand Theft Auto, or CD Projekt RED's Cyberpunk 2077, will command the future of pure single-player. Even developers like Ubisoft and Square Enix are sliding away from pure single player experiences, building DLC-heavy games like Rainbow Six Siege and injecting micro-payments into games like Deus Ex Mankind Divided. Of course, there are always exceptions, but we're talking about general trends here.

When Microsoft and others see huge success with perpetually updated games like Minecraft, Killer Instinct, Halo 5, and Gears of War 4, while games like Quantum Break, RYSE, and Sunset Overdrive are either critically or commercially failing, it makes little sense for Microsoft to go all-in on high-risk, low-return pure single-player games. Gamers have voted with their wallets.

The rise of Games as a Service (GaaS)

It should come as no surprise that Microsoft, known for properties like Office 365, OneDrive Premium, Skype Premium, Groove Music, and of course, Xbox Live Gold, should be more successful in creating games that operate more like services.

Fable Legends was the definitive prototypical Xbox game as a service, being entirely free to play, aggressive with micro-payments that exchanged money to help you accelerate through the game. Mobile gaming pioneered these sorts of games, and for what they lack in quality (and often, basic ethical decency), they make up for it in pure, hard, cash.

Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5 REQ packs. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Fable Legends was too aggressive on the service front, though, and the underlying game wasn't up to Microsoft's idea of what constitutes a good game. Thankfully, Microsoft still expects a level of quality from our console games, and Microsoft and other large publishers know that we really don't want to feel like we're playing throwaway mobile phone games. This is why games like Overwatch, which keep the rewards strictly cosmetic (and often, sexy), have been able to slip by yesteryear's outrage at micro-transactions. Overwatch boasts millions of happy players, exploding out of the ashes of a dead Blizzard Entertainment MMO. And it is this sort of game that you should expect more of from Microsoft Studios (and frankly, most publishers) moving forward.

Halo Wars 2 will have a robust single player campaign, even to the point of being bolstered by an expansion pack in the future, but it's Halo Wars 2's card pack-heavy Blitz mode that will give the game far better margins than it could possibly have achieved as a standard RTS. Sea of Thieves will also be continuously supported post-launch, so you should quite firmly expect that to have micro-payments of some description (we can only hope they remain firmly cosmetic). I wouldn't be surprised if Crackdown 3 also featured something akin to Gears of War 4's post-campaign cosmetic loot crates, perhaps with random abilities and skills on the side.

Halo Wars 2 Blitz packs.

Halo Wars 2 Blitz packs.

Huge games with abnormally long lifespans undoubtedly ate into the sales of all sorts of games this past quarter. Mafia III, Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2, and even multiplayer games like Titanfall 2 probably didn't get the attention they deserved, purely on the basis that we're simply quite happy playing other stuff for longer than ever before. There's always the prospect of picking up campaign-heavy games later in a Steam sale, or even an increasingly impressive Xbox sale after all, right?

Is there no hope for pure single-player exclusives?

I wouldn't go that far. Clearly, Microsoft was gauging interest in the classic Xbox 360 JRPG Lost Odyssey when they offered it for free over the holiday period and planned HD re-releases of Phantom Dust and Voodoo Vince are on the cards. And while they're all multiplayer-heavy, State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3, and Halo Wars 2 will also have strong single-player capabilities on the side.

I think Microsoft is exploring ways to bring these sorts of experiences to the Xbox One in a commercially viable way, and I know from conversations with high-ranking figures at Xbox that they would like to have the sort of diverse portfolio that can appeal to all kinds of gamers. There just comes the point where the business matters outweigh the virtues of the craft, particularly at a point where Xbox is investing so much in tools and features that deliver value to Xbox Live itself as a platform, rather than just the exclusive games.

Most Microsoft Studios games will have at least some multiplayer / micro-payment-driven service model moving forward.

Episodic campaign-based games seem to be an option Microsoft Studios could explore in the future. The format continues to work well for graphic adventure titles like Life is Strange and Telltale games, and even Hitman. Episodic structures allow developers to cash flow development, taking money upfront for season passes or by selling single episodes at a premium. I expect Microsoft will explore this as a means to deliver story content in the future, examining the success of Telltale's Minecraft Story Mode and Battlefield 1's mini-campaigns, for example.

And of course, VR is coming to Project Scorpio, and with Microsoft positioning itself as a leading provisioner of virtual, mixed, and augmented reality platforms, I think it's fairly likely we'll see some games emerge from Microsoft Studios that feature strong campaigns that support optional-VR experiences, akin to Resident Evil 7. VR doesn't lend itself too well to multiplayer, yet.

Lenovo's prototype Windows Holographic MR headset.

Lenovo's prototype Windows Holographic MR headset.

Microsoft is sitting on piles of disused IP that could circumnavigate the marketing headaches of establishing new franchises, including Age of Empires and Perfect Dark, many of which would lend themselves well to story-driven experiences while still offering opportunities for service driven models on the side.

Even still, I think most Microsoft Studios games will have at least some service model moving forward, giving the company the margins it needs to keep developing Xbox Live itself as a platform gamers and developers want to use.

Moving forward

Scalebound's cancelation typifies the struggles faced by studios building new IP for the modern era. There's more competition for a gamer's free time than ever, thanks to things like Game Preview / Early Access, games with constant updates, and even just internet-based media in general. There's only so many hours in a day, and I can only speak for myself when I say that I'm struggling to keep up with all the great games out there. My backlog is huge. If Scalebound was truly ground breaking, Microsoft probably would have seen its development through to the end, even with the delays, expectations, and the cash Platinum Games were eating through.

Scalebound

Scalebound (Image credit: Xbox)

The industry constantly shifts and changes. Video game development is no longer just the realm of huge studios with massive budgets. It has been democratized to some degree, thanks to the rise of indie gaming and programs like ID@Xbox. We all know the story of Minecraft. An indie today could be tomorrow's multi-million dollar franchise, and gamer's tastes also fluctuate and cycle. Microsoft will probably set its sights on comparatively lower-budget, safer, single player experiences, funding sequels to titles like Ori and the Blind Forest and Cuphead.

At least for now, it's looking like the next few years will be dominated by games that run with a service model, and Microsoft has proven itself to be very adept at making it work for them. But I hope that experiences with Scalebound, RYSE, ReCore, and other second-party developed single player games don't hinder Microsoft Studios' will to take risks.

Were you looking forward to Scalebound? Do you spend money on micro-transactions in games like Killer Instinct and Gears of War 4? Let us know in the comments.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

91 Comments
  • There is room for single player experiences, there is demand for it and it shows on the ps4 platform.  Their single player games sell well, ms singleplayer games do not for whatever reason.  While the xbox one user base is half of ps4, but still is tens of millions xbox players, but their exclusives struggle to reach million outside of halo/gears/forza.   why is that that? who knows, but because of this i can see why MS may have issues invensting in new single player IPs and may head towards minecrafty like games.  Fable legends was a decent idea, but i was int he beta and that game was bad. They have IPs if developed properly still have some demand like fable.  In the end, they do need to do more IPs outside of halo/gears imo, but i can see why MS may be reluctant to fund single player projects when history has shown their userbase is not supporting their exclusives.  
  • I was just going to post the same thing. There's plenty of room for single player exclusives.  Sony has: The Last of Us
    Uncharted
    God of War
    The upcoming Horizon: Zero Dawn
    Gran Turismo (although I think Forza is more interesting)
    And I'm sure I'm missing some The problem is that Microsoft's exclusives are either tired (Halo, Gears of War, Dead Rising) or mediocre (ReCore and a whole bunch of others).  And that has nothing to do with microtransaction games at all.  Rather, it's a problem of perception ("all you make is Halo and Gears") and quality.
  • Both Uncharted and The Last of Us have multiplayer. You've got a point with God of War, but, then again, the game is hardly a new franchise.
  • Nobody bought Uncharted or TLoU for their multiplayer.
  • But the online aspect may "force"you to not resell your game, because you may want to keep playing it. When you have a strong online component that has a lot of users playing, other people may buy the game later onthe  road to play it with other people. Reselling games, as we all know, don't give profits to the company developing the game.
  • Honestly it depends by what you mean well. Uncharted shifted 8+ million units( likely 6with additional bundles), but if you look at uncharted it still has a heavy focus on multiplayer and services with micro transactions. And let's not forget that their season pass was only MP content. Same with TLOU. It's going to have a MP component that's going to feature micro transactions. GTSport is the epitome of an online service game. As for their other exclusives, aren't really doing that hot. Last guardian is a bomb. Something like Infamous while doing well(likely around 2 million or so) isn't going to bring in as much money as a service game. And we have yet to see how Horizon actually performs
  • Ps4 exclusives are selling millions, ms are selilng hundreds of thousands.  even halo/gears demand has fallen due to franchise fatigue.  Gow4 i read is selilng less than judgement.   MS needs new IPs, but that takes huge investements and xbox players are not buying the games.  
  • Sony has closed more studios & sitting on more unused IP than Microsoft. Ryse & Sunset overdrive sold >1M units. With today's budgets you need to sell 2-3M to be successful for a single player game. Sony has 2x more consoles in the market and only has 2 1st party titles that have sold >3M units.... The last of us & unchartered... which matches Gears of War & Halo which are both >3M in sales.
     
  • I like Ryse a lot, so much so that I bought it twice. Once on the Xbox One and then via Steam. I still play it, amazing graphics and sound and I love games based around the Roman empire and the gameplay is great for pick up and play/show-off mastery. I don't understand why the game didn't sell multiple millions of copies.
  • while fun, it was short and was not deep at all.  Felt like a demo at times, ther eis potential there, but if they can get it done right with a true RPG experience.  
  • MS should consider buying Crytek (they have financial problems) or at least the Ryse IP .
    ​Besides the latter, they own Crysis, Far Cry and Warface. Let's not forget the Cryengine as well.
    ​Ryse has an enormous potential as an all-rounder -single and multiplayer-. Unfortunately, it was a launch title and the Xbox One didn't have a great start so it affected the reception of the game.
    ​Of course it's not perfect, first half is very repetitive specially when not played in the hardest difficulty. But it turned out really good. It was a good surprise.
  • I think crytek wants to be indy, they refused to sell the ryse IP to MS even though they needed the $$
  • I agree.
  • A Ryse RPG would be amazing! I'd take the same graphics engine with just more of everything that made he first game great. Too bad it would be a financial risk for the developer and publisher so we probably won't see that happen.
  • Because it's a very shallow game without a compelling storyline.
  • Actually. This is misguided information. And is quite the story this gen. MS sell 30% more digital games than Sony. Halo 5 being the highest selling digital console game of all time. For example people would have you believe Halo 5 has sold 4.5 million copies. Which is only the physical edition of the game. MS confirmed just under 50% of its sales are digital for Halo 5. Meaning Halo 5 at the lowest sits at over 7 million copies sold. Hell I bought it digitally. Same for all other MS first party. For some reason MS Xbox buyers are more invested in its online ecosystem. They buy direct. No physical. Whereas Sonys PS4 owners even on a larger install base has less gamers engaged in its ecosystem buying digital. Halo 4, Gears 4, Quantum Break, Forza Horizon 3, Forza 6, Killer Instinct, Sunset Overdrive, Halo Wars 2, Crackdown 3, are all just some games with amazing single player stories and experiences that in many peoples opinions are way better than Sonys. This online belief ( mainly portrayed by Sony fans ) that PS games are better story games is complete tosh. I completed Uncharted 1&2 but halfway through 3 got board. Right when Drake crashes in the desert. So many plot holes and handholding boredom. I mean realistically with no Kingdom Hearts 3 it FF7 remake on PS4 this year now and Horizon pushed back what does PS4 have exclusive wise since Uncharted 4 that is worth buying the console for?
  • Sure, a single player game is done once a gamer finishes the campain. But single player apps could have more legs if they supported local co-op campaign split screen. I wasn't too happy about Halo 5 not having local co-op. 
  • Split screen is one of those things I hope for in many games. Borrowed Halo for that reason, then spent ages looking in the menus for a feature that wasn't there.
  • I searched for it the same as you. My son likes to play through the campaigns with me. He was really bummed that there wasn't local co-op. I was too fot that matter as it would have been fun to play through with him.
  • My friend, I stopped caring about split screen and I bought a second TV and a second Xbox, so all online games I play with my wife. We buy one digital game and then share with each other. You will tire yourself looking for split screen games, because they aren't on the rise :( hell, even online  coop games  sometimes are hard to find (just look at PS4 AAA console exclusives and you will have an idea). At least MS still focuses on coop. But really... I know it may cost more money than you want, but it's worthy :)
  • I have a very real feeling that only a fraction of the people annoyed at this cancellation would have actually picked it up on release day.
    It looked like it wasn't going to light the world on fire, and with Microsoft's performance in the Eastern markets, this game seemed to be destined to appeal to only a niche audience and fail to make the returns needed to justify it's budget. Plus, with the creator promising "sexy ladies will be in the game", it's probably best that it doesn't see the light of day as a proposed flagship title. Sad for those affected, hopefully Platinum can recoup and make sure losses in employment are mitigated.
  • Yup, the entire game seemed to miss the mark from the start.  It was like someone was a fan of "How to Train Your Dragon" and thought to themselves, "You know what would make that even better?  Some fraternity dude bro jock with Beats by Dr. Dre headphones ordering his dragon around!" It just felt like a game directed by someone desperately trying to grasp what kids like these days rather than designing something with a more honest intent.  A whole lotta pandering.
  • Omfg, that is possibly THE best diss summary of this game(though I liked it because it reminded me of Panzer Dragoon) but after reading your comment that notion has been obliterated.
  • Have you played any other games by Platinum Games? It fits right in with games like Vanquish. The main character is always cornball but they offer great gameplay. It's rare to not see Dragons in a fantasy title, so I don't see why you would knock them for their use.
  • I'll agree that the biggest thing that was putting me off of scalebound was the main character. The rest of it was pretty appealing.
  • In other word they dont have an idea or the balls to figure out a good original single player campaing game and it seems they will not have a profit becouse of that. Dont get me erong a lot of game developers are thr same sticking to 10 year old IP-s. If a poland cd project red can hit that with wicher series and then decide to go with totally different ip why not microsoft. Its not like cd red is richest company or game developer, actually they are quite small comparing to other big companies. So yea i guess lack of intelect and creative people is the problem as well not taking risks.
  • To be fair, Cyberpunk is a table-top RPG franchise that CD Projekt Red will be turning into a video game, so it's not an entirely new/original IP (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyberpunk_2020).  That said, it's new to modern video gamers, and will undoubtedly be of high quality because they take the time to make great games.
  • CD Projekt Red would be making some decent cash due to GoG.
  • CD Projekt Red is not small. Their development teams are huge now. The Witcher 3 was multiplatform and an aleady established franchise (not to mention critically acclaimed).
     
  • First kinect then micro transaction and now game as a service thing , could you please Microsoft stop and let your first party studios create something amazing ? Sony is creating amazing single player games and every one is happy with uncharted or horizon . Please Microsoft don't force RARE to work on HoloLens .
  • They aren't. RARE is working on Sea of Thieves which looks to capture what made RARE games great. The game is in closed beta right now with more people being added.
  • People are happy with a game they haven't played?
  • I buy very few games at launch. Battlefield 1, Battlefield 4 and Sunset Overdrive are pretty much the only one's that I have bought on the day they released (on Xbox one). But most things in the sales. Gems of War was the only game where I even considered a micro transaction, and that was because the game was free. I paid £3.99, purely because I felt that the dev deserved something.
  • With Scalebound cancelled the only MS game I'm looking forward to now is Crackdown, and even that will have to prove itself first.
    I hope they have a bunch of surprises for E3, otherwise the Scorpio will pretty much be for third party games. This is from someone who preferred MS IPs last gen.
  • you need to sell the game first before thinking about doing micro tramsactions. The problems is not single player games. It's about quality, innovation and taking risk. And sony is doing just that and they are selling.
  • Agreed. I loved Quantum Break, but it quite obviously had a campaign too short for a single player-only game and lacked challenge in the majority of the encounters (notable exception: the one prior to Jack going back in time to the university. Damn that was a tough one to master in hard). Worse, Microsoft seems to have given up on QB as a franchise, even though Assassin's Creed grew to be a successful one despite its first entry being annoyingly repetitive. The same could probably be said about other failed new Xbox ips (which I didn't play).
  • The 1st couple Hitman games also didn't perform that great, same with Duex Ex. That being said, you see the same thing happening in Music & TV, it's hard for publishers to support franchises that don't perform when budgets are 60-150M for AAA releases.
  • No, you don't. Something like micro-transactions need to be built in to the design of the game.
  • So basically Xbox as a service means you'll be able to earn achievements on iOS android ps4 and the Nintendo switch. RIP Xbox- Long Live Xbox Live
  • I'd bet any amount if Money that scropio is a pc
  • I bought season 2 and 3 of killer instinct after getting season 1 free with GwG last year. I can't wait for Crackdown, I loved the original.
  • Last generation, the Xbox 360 was churing out hit after hit, from GoW, to Halo 3, but the momentum picked up with Mass Effect, Bioshock (as I recall they were console exclusive for a while), and CoD 4, especially with the social features of cross game chat and party chat. This generation, they have been playing catch up somewhat, but the issue is not necessarily franchise fatigue, but too much choice. What I would be interested in seeing the total number of players that are playing all Halo games at a given time, or all CoD games, or all of GoW games etc and determine if that number has actually gone down. I think that with the inclusion of backwards compatibility, the 'game library' for the One is huge, and thus not enough time is the biggest issue. MS is all about selling a service. Single player experiences do not sell gold subscriptions, nor do they sell grove music passes. The 'only' point of a single player game experience would be to have a franchise that is a console seller, but very few single player games are console sellers. I am not worried about loosing single player games, or IP's. If MS concentrates on the social aspect of gaming (beam, twitch, crossplatform chat) along with catering for the most part to gamers needs, they will be OK in the long run. There are 100's of 'arcade' games that are dirt cheap and great single player experiences. I think it is too expensive to make a cinematic game like Ryze or Quantum Break, as they will always be money loosers. I am sure that MS had the resources to make Scalebound and tolerate a loss, but proabbly there is more to the story than we know.
  • I really wanted to play scalebound, was hoping for a collectors edition 😭. I don't spend money on micro transactions, it's a blight on the industry
  • To be perfectly honest. I'm sick of Forza, Gears and Halo. It seems all Xbox can release these days are sequels. Scalebound brought hope of a new IP. This is something I wanna see Xbox invest more into in the future. New IPs. 
  • The Internet of Things is going to break very soon I think. Right now everything is MMO,  Multiplayer, Download or Stream and at some point, it's all just going to break! I'll take a Solid Single Player Campain and a Physical copy any day of the week. This buy now, wait an hour or two for the game to download just doesn't sit well with me. Sure I have Steam Games, and Live Gold Games, and Games from all the other players too! But 9 out of 10 of those games are not installed on my PC, they are nothing but data on some server somewhere.  And we know, even from the recent past, that Game Devs wont keep game servers running forever! Also, this Gaas stuff you talk about holds ZERO interest for me, and most of the games you list are games I have no interest in ever playing! It's was funny, you kept dropping names, and I was like, nope, couldn't care less! Origninal Titanfal, no interested because no campaign. Evolve, same thing! Overwatch... completely overrated in my optinion. I will never understand the alure of playing the same characters, on the same maps, every day. That is not fun for me! So, I really hope you are wrong and that the single player/co-op  games come back into fasion, quickly.
  • The last guardian had pretty good reviews, was not your standard game & has bombed in the market to the point Sony is already discounting a 1 month old AAA 1st party release by 40%.
  • Discounts mean nothing, every game on release is basically discounted 40% in Australia, that's for Xbox and PS. And I don't mean just some titles it is literally every single game.
  • discounting doesnt mean much, not sure why people keep bringing this up.  Final Fantasy shipped millions and i got it for 40% off from amazon like a week after release.  Same with madden, same with overwatch, got the division for $35 at launch.   These games sold a ton.    
  • If Microsoft thinks that the only way to make new IPs is to make them GaaS then they have already lost. I buy games for single player story only. If it has mutliplayer that is a nice addition, but not something that is required. I have played Halo 5 since launch and I can tell you that I haven't spent a dime on the Req cards and I won't. If you make a quality game with single player only people will buy it and play it. I will for sure.
  • I think the point of this is something for every gamer.  I'm the exact opposite of you to a degreee.  I used to only really care about the single player campaign.  I still care about it but with xbox live I look for games that offer social interaction.  I love Halo but Halo 5s campaign didn't offer much even though the mechanics and the visuals of the game are great.  I've invested more Halo 5 hours in muliplayer between Warzone and Arena than any other game I own.  Yes this includes the old Req system.  Something for everyone and to balance this approach is a smart business move from MS.  
  • This game being stopped is a huge mistake on behalf of Microsoft.
  • Killer Instict is worth the $120 I spent on it. 
  • WOW! What a stretch for the headline.  What if you have one game company that has had nothing but a series of bad releases?  What if that game company has poor managment and stretched their developers too thin between patching bad software an developing new? What if they over promissed and under delivered?  Do not know what that has to do with exclusives versus giving the job to the wrong developer.
  • Well... the article is more than the headline. I agreed with your points, lol.
  • Having worked in the PC MMO game market (operations team with high exposure to development on-goings), I can agree with this evaluation mostly. Maybe Microsoft can sell the IP if the IP is that worth it, but big game development cycles is certainly risky.  Maybe the smaller studios can do it. There are some interesting models out there like the crowd funded Star Citizen.  I hope this is the end of exclusives. My hope is that Sony and Microsoft will do what they can to promote their ecosystems without having to lock a player into an ecosystem (permanently or temporarily) by selling their ecosystem. LOL.  Let the independent studios deal with making the great games. Budgets are a big problem, but there has to be an answer and having big money isn't the answer (the mention about Final Fantasy is a case in point - 10 years!).  Having said that, I also hope that micro-transacted games and DLC model multi-player is forced or made the main focus. That would certainly be bad.
  • People -including me- is angry not only because an exclusive cancelled but there is very few games has that style. Come on, what is Halo Wars? What makes it so special? Don't lie to yourself. PS games have incredible stories and there are many hack and slash game. Like MS forcing people to PS and says " I don't care what you think and want, you'll play what I force you. You'll get more stupid sports games instead of exclusives every year so don't complain." Japanese people are too fit or we are not athletic? What is the point of this ridicule?
  • I hate games as a service, if I wanted that is just play games on my phone, if that's the route Microsoft solely focuses on in the future then I guess I won't be buying as many Microsoft games, no skin off my nose, saves me money.
  • One reason single player games are hard to survice on Xbox is because Xbox already pushed away most single player fans, by releasing little such type of games, or for the same game, with less content or lower quality than PS in the history. You can consider while PS4 has 2x users than Xbox One now, many single player game fans are in the extra 1x, as for them, then can expect while most of the game types are avaiable on both platforms, single platform games are more likely to be on PS4. It's just like system and app, egg and chicken, etc. The only solution is to work extremly hard to push batch of new high quality exclusive single player games to attract the fans back.
  • ABOSLUTELY BARBARIC!!!
  • Over It's all over.
  • We'll pull through man, we have too!!
  • I was soooooooooo looking forward to Scalebound... Sorry it was canceled...
    Hopefully they bring some good games to the fold from MSFT Studios...
    I guess GOW4 and Killer Instinct will hold me for a while... And FFXV of course!!
  • I was looking forward to scalebound. I'm more a fan of single player titles, beat'em ups l and fighting games on console more so than FPS and mmorpg that seem to be dominant now. Call me an old school gamer. I'm slowly making my way through Recore and Tombraider on the xbox because I enjoy the single player experience. This new model of everything being multi-player Web based with micro-transactions is a huge turn off for a gamer like me.
  • I haven't spent any money on Microtransactions. I have bought stuff with the credit they give you in Gears and have bought Season 1 of Killer Instinct. I think what they did with that game is great. They kept it alive by updating it for 3 years and making it basically free unless you wanted a particular character.
  • I was looking forward to scalebound.  Will not spend on microtransactions...I want single player story..forget multiplayer
  • Speaking of Cuphead, what is going on with it? Is it going DOA, or will it get released? If so, when?
  • Mid 2017.
  •   I don't get the aim here. My enjoyment this generation has heavily been through games that WEREN'T driven by online play. Dying Light and Shadow of Mordor stand out there, but it also includes things like Quantum Break (even though I couldn't finish it), Sunset Overdrive, and Forza Horizon 3 (which I don't play in multiplayer at all). Saying there isn't room for games that aren't multiplayer-driven definitely ignores the landscape. Fallout 4 and Uncharted 4 are both in VGChartz' top-10 for PS4 sales. The Last of Us, a remake, is 12th, and it's immediately followed by the remaster of the Uncharted franchise. The Witcher, Unity, Arkham Knight, and Fary Cary 4 sit in the top-20 as well, all built seemingly on solo play experiences than anything else. Over on the Xbox side, it's not as good, but that's really more an indictment of Xbox game quality than anything, I think. Fallout 4 and Unity are the top-10 releases. After that, you have to tumble down to exactly 20 for Black Flag--a game that sat at 30th on PS4 (with Syndicate, Phantom Pain, and Mordor before it on the PS4 side as well). It just seems that a) Sony does exclusives built on solo content better, and b) PS4 owners caremore about solo-driven experiences more, probably because they have a console known for good stories in their games. There's plenty of room for good stories and games that support them, it just seems Microsoft is unwilling to support anything that isn't an immediate success on the second-party side, and they're unable to find talent to make it on the first-party side. You said only a few studios can manage a short launch window, as if that's a problem. Scalebound didn't get announced 6 motnhs before it launched. It was announced more than 2 years ago. Plus, it's Platinum Games--not exactly a random indie dev people barely know (though far from being the mainstream brand of Bethesda, of course). Quantum Break got loads of hype and time, and came from Remedy. Still, VGC shows Quantum Break at #76 on the XB1 sales list, behind winners like NFS Rivals, Evolve, The Crew, and Kinect Sports Rivals. Think about the other, major releases from the second-party realm on XB1. Sunset Overdirve was from Insomniac (Ratchet & Clank). Ryse, from Crytek (Crysis), and ReCore from Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune. All of those games had legitimate developers behind them, it wasn't some shot in the dark on an indie choice like you sort of had with Crimson Dragon, LocoCyle, or State of Decay. For whatever reason, it seems MS either doesn't pick good partners or doesn't pick good concepts. Quantum Break was an interesting idea, but there had to be hints that streaming a buncch of 30-minute TV episodes to get a story, while offering choices that have no ultimate impact, would disappoint. Someone had to see that ReCore, despite its price tag, was getting overhyped as a front-and-center exclusive with a sparse environment and niche audience. Microsoft either can't manage games or can't manage expectations, that's how I ultimately see it. I'm looking at 4 exclusives on console for 2017. All are on PS4. Two are remakes (KH 2.8 and 1.5/2.5), one's an interative sports game (MLB 17), and the last is a new IP (Horizon). Three of those are without multiplayer entirely. The last, I want it to play baseball myself, not really interested in going online. In fact, there isn't a single game planned for 2017 that's online-focused I am interested in. Microsoft seems to have spent so much time building a brand around online, and letting a reputation grow that they can't give good stories and solo experiences, that it might be too late to bother trying. They've been bad at building stories in the past, to the point it seems building bad stories is now a skill they have actually honed. If there is no room for solo experiences and great campaigns now, that's an Xbox problem--not a modern gaming one. People are stoked for PS4 games that are story-driven and not centered on multiplayer (Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War, Horizon, Detroit, Nioh, etc.), and the same goes for Nintendo (Zelda, Metroid, etc.) and third-party (Fallout, The Witcher, Mass Effect,  Wolfenstein, Final Fantasy, Dishonored, Resident Evil, Red Dead, etc.). The problem you're describing seems to be a Microsoft/Xbox one, not an industry problem. Maybe Microsoft should have focused less on gouging people for money with a mobile phone pricing structure (on top fo the $60 buy-in) and overpriced DLC, and aimed for better gaming experiences a little. Their investment in Xbox has been really poor, from an exclusive perspective, for years. By tripping over themselves with the XB1's power, price, and marketing, they killed their third-party advantages and have nothing to fall back on.
  • Well I did note that there are exceptions, namely in the form of established studios and IP (From Software, Naughty Dog, The Last of Us, Witcher 3, etc) who can offset marketing costs by virtue of their reputations alone. Microsoft has kinda painted themselves into a position where they need to spend an inordinate amount simply convincing people a new game is worth it, etc. So, yeah I agree with your points.
  • Yeah, this really just comes down on MS more than anything. Monolith wasn't a major player pre-Arkham, and they made it work. What's more, they did it with two things generally not made into good games--comic book stuff and Lord of the Rings. WB killed it with that publishing job and my favorite, Dying Light. In the latter case, people dumped on Techland for Dead Island, yet they pushed something mostly centered on solo play, and built a great story worth playing. It's not like the studios I mentioned are all 15 years old and major names from my childhood, either. The Witcher's just turning 10, and the dev team's got nothing else under its belt. Horizon is a new IP from a developer known for a pretty uninspired Killzone franchise--I've seen more people doubt Horizon because of who is making it than expect it to be good (personally, I had no clue who was making it when I got excited for it). Sony just shows a willingness to take chances Microsoft doesn't. MS has let good ideas rot for, seemingly, not being instant mega-successes. Rare has been hurt by this a lot, IMO. I wish Viva Pinata were put out now, in the era of Play Anywhere (I think it works better as a PC title, even as a big fan of the first on 360). Kameo had fans, who wee left in the cold. Fable, same thing. Kinect had concepts with potential, but MS did a terrible job of building them out (really, a sequel to Disneyland Adventures would have gotten me stoked for Kinect; instead, we just got a bad Kinect Sports game with stupid sports choices). Xbox fans deserve some of the blame, for focusing their money and time so narrowly on the major franchises we're now in a rut with--Forza, Halo, and Gears. However, we've seen plenty of new IP and studios succeed over the last 5-10 years of IP neglect within Microsoft. If we're lucky, Microsoft will correct that at E3, but IDK how. They've spent the last 2 years gutting dev teams from within and giving second-party stuff no long-term support. Perhaps we get surprised with new hires or partnerships, it's just really hard to be optimistic after the last 2 years of MS as a whole, though.
  • I'm old school, much prefer single player games and avoid online games.
    I like to play at my pace, do what I Want to do and not be harassed by a bunch of spotty faced #ankers.
    Looks like im done.
  • Ya, I wouldn't be surprised if generally kids are more into the multiplayer games, and older games (like myself) that grew up on the Atari/NES liked single player games. I have a job, wife, family, other interests, so when I do play games the last thing I want to do is jump online with a bunch of HS kids that have no life but gaming one-shotting me out of nowhere every time I respawn. No thanks. Much rather explore / go at my own rate as you said. From the comments here, seems like there's a dearth of single player games on Xbox; if that's the case, glad I stuck with the PS4.
  • Am I disappointed that it won't be released, yes. Was I interested in a dragon riding coop game with a guy wearing headphones... Not so much. Much like Forza games, that driving simulator fans love, It's not for me but others love. I felt it was an OK game, but not for me. I LOVED Sunset Overdrive and I feel if they had a sequel it would possibly do better than Scalebound. I'm not on the inside of MS's decisions, but they need to bring another compelling IP. Halo, Forza, Crackdown and Gears are all great IP's, but they need to keep pushing for another compelling IP to compete. PS has brought Bloodborne and potentially Horizon Zero Dawn as new compelling new IP and MS needs to not only match it but EXCEED it. That is all.
  • No game will ever receive a micro transaction from me. Aka in game. BUT if a proper dlc is made like on Skyrim then maybe. I'm the kind of person that buys once and am done.
  • While MS is succeeding in services and PC, is killing Xbox division as they killed Phone division. That's what I sense.
  • This happens all the time. I'm sure Sony fans will try and portray this as MS losing single player games etc etc. I'm even surprised its got an article from WindowsCentral. I'll remind you Sony has shutdown more Game studios in the last 5 years than any other console manufacturer. Gran Turismo has been on a sales decline since the PS2 days. And only Naughty Dog Games actually sell anything close to MS exclusives. Sony no longer has a franchise that pulls Halo numbers. GT used to, but not anymore. Uncharted 3 maxed out at 6 million. And The Last Of Us sales numbers are inflated because they are combining all version. The resmasters etc etc. All these obscure Japanese titles on PS4 people claim sell the console in the west is rubbish. You would be lucky if they sell a couple of hundred thousand. Games like Nier Automata for example.
  • I am not completely sure if Jez is right. However, if he's right, perhaps it is my cue to abandon the XBox wagon. I'll probably be better with a PS4 complementing my Nintendo console. Tough times but it is important to remark a first party title don't need to be lucrative it may only need to cover bases in the overall platform. Right now, in the exclusivity realm, XBox seems lacking in comparison with the competition.
  • In general I agree with this piece, however as with Windows 10 Mobile, the narrative on this site is congruent with hyper-optimistic marketing speech one would expext from the company themselves. And this reasoning gets smashed by reality as well as concerning W10M as Xbox. Why? Because Microsoft fall flat by their own standards. All their remaining multiplayer franchises which actually are Halo-Forza-Gears are suffering loss of interest. That's why the service model is getting shoved cockier and cockier IMO, while new ips are nowhere to be found. For me as a single player gamer it's time to start the transition to PS4 (PS4 is on it's way with FFxv, a game which now seems to better sit well on Playstation), clear the backlog on Xbox and look forward to all the super-interesting single player games getting released in, holy hell, next month already and following.
  • When you play games that feature coop, you can always play it alone, like Scalebound, Halo, Dead Rising 3, Gears, Forza, etc But when a game is single player, obviously, you can't play at all with friends. That's why I think coop is way better! I noticed that MS focuses on coop I simply love it. You can have a great game with story and feature coop as well, like on Divinity Original Sin ;) The reason I haven't bough a PS4 is because Sony focuses too much on single player games, and if you want to play an exclusive AAA PS4 game featuring coop, you will have to dig a lot to find one
  • What's further amazing is when Sony shut down 8 of its studios fans were like "its ok they need to. " on top of that this year we now know FF7 remake is stuck in development hell. As is KH3. ( the interview is in Kotaku ). The issue with Scalebound has nothing to do with MS. But its clearly a major issue with Japanese developers. FFvs13 which later became 15 took over 10 years. Now from MS point of view they were funding Scalebound. By all accounts Platinum were in development hell. Are MS supposed to be ok with pumping money into a development for another 5 years??? Sony are not funding FF7 remake in the same way. That game is coming to Xbox later. They just paid for early access like rise of the tomb raider. So if it takes 10 years they won't care to much. On the other hand look what happened to The Last Guardian. Another Japanese developer. Apparently they won't break even on it unless they sell 10 million copies. Sony bleed money on their Japanese games. Something that got them in huge trouble financially. Trust me Sony won't make that mistake anymore. This isn't about multiplayer or single player. It's about Japanese developers taking the piss. Look at the last 10 years. And Japanese developers are wondering why they are struggling to turn a profit. They think its because they need to westernise their games. They don't. They just need to make a game that has a 2-3 year Dev cycle. Not 5-10 years.
  • Further the One S is back outselling the PS4Pro in US, UK and Australia. The online gamers opinion ( which is heavily Sony biased, even in the review media ) is not what the general consumers opinion is out in the wild.
  • The general consumer opinion is they prefer the PS4 this generation as it has sold twice the numbers as Xbox.
  • Generations no longer exist. Currently the Xbox image is doing fantastic. Agreed from 2013-2015 it wasn't. But now is a different story. Xbox is now a service, not just a single console in a generation. Even Sony isn't sure if its any longer doing generations.
  • Just read Sony shut ANOTHER studio. But you watch. That will somehow be a good thing to gamers on the web. Hilarious.
  • I don't know that I'm ready to take a "sky is falling" view on any of this, let alone on the game scene more broadly. But I know that I do virtually no microtransactioning, so if that becomes a humongous thing, then I'll feel more disconnected, which is not good. Also, I'm drowning in entertainment options as it is, so much so that most of my entertainment choices, including a basement Nerd Mecca of between 25 and 30 old school gaming platforms and roughly 700, 750 games in hard copy sit in near total neglect, my 10+ more modern platforms upstairs and 400, 500 some odd games (mostly digital downloads) see only so much less neglect, and often times I just end up spend the evening on the couch, farting the night away on my phone for a complete lack of ability to decide and commit to just one focused entertainment path. I know this is "first world problems" to the Nth, but I really think I need a dedicated "entertainment calendar" and schedule my time out. Like, April 5th - old school game night - grab a few beers, grab a pizza, maybe have a friend over, go downstairs, and don't come up til bedtime, or say, March 1st - set up camp on the couch and play Final Fantasy XV all night, or even Feb 12th - play guitar, or watch a movie, or do a DuoLingo marathon, or just completely throw my man card away forever and grab a good book in a sudsy tub and a bottle of wine.....or.....whatever. You get the picture. The point is, with several multi-hour, time hungry games on my backlog already, in addition to all the other stuff, I have very little bandwidth to take on more games. So if the market is too deluged, and "too noisy", then I'm only going to fall even further behind in a scene that a I already feel less connected with than I'd like. I don't see how it'd be possible, but I actually wouldn't mind things slowing down a bit. And while the scale and scope of my "entertainment weed pit" problem may not be super common, I can't imagine the megatheme of my "plight" in having more entertainment choices demanding our time than time we have to give to them is that terribly uncommon. So it's in that environment that yeah, I have no problems seeing just how tough a scene it'd be for a new, massive, unknown IP to break in with yet another single-player, multi-hour epic. That corner of the gaming world is certainly not "dead", but I can only see it hurting more and more as time goes on. What do you guys think?
  • Maybe Scalebound was cancelled becasue it simply wasn't turning into a good game? It was announced at E3 2014, almost 3 years ago. This article is pure specualtion. No one on the outside knows what condition the game was in at this point. 
  • It is a very sad news, i wait so long for scalebound. I certainly don't have ant interest on microtransaction. Also as time goes, less interested on multiplayer.
  • Very disappointing.  It could be MS has issues with Japanese Studios.  Remember the worst one of all....True Fantasy Live Online!!!!!  They seemed to take more risks on the 360 with Japanese developers, not so much with the XB1.  I agree with most on this post that I only play single player or co-op games.  Last time I forked down money for an online game was Battlefront, I got my butt kicked after 1 month by kids which was not fun once they could devote their entire waking lives to mastering it.  Online like Horde and Warzone are where I play, but I need single player to play at my own pace. Here is to MS continuing to take "risks"...... Remember Otogi, NUDE, Metal Wolf Chaos, Megatama, Blinx, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey. Ninety-Nine Nights,   I know not all of them published by MS, but hey they were good. Give VanillaWare Wizards & Warriors, Give Platininum Jet Force Gemini, Conker, or Battletoads, Give Level-5 Fable....Do something right!!
  • I never will buy into a micro-transaction on a $60 game, NEVER. They already try for the "season pass" or DLC, and if it's a good enough game, I MIGHT buy it as it ads on a major dynamic to the game (like COD maps). I feel I have paid for the game, I should get the full content of the game, if the game cant be completed or at a MAJOR diffuclty because it's missing a micro-transaction addon, I will not buy the game. I was looking forward to Scalebound, it looked like a possable good game but, to be honest with, I dont think it's a big deal as gaming goes... Games get canceled all the time...Not much of a big deal..
  • "With the rise of games like Overwatch, Minecraft, and even Halo 5, it's the Games as a Service (GaaS) concept that is now dominating the industry. Where in-game purchases drive a steady stream of updates, keeping players hooked for inordinate amounts of time. While Scalebound did have a co-operative component, it didn't look like a game that fit well into this service-driven industry shift" this is stupid so your suggesting the game got cancled due to not being multiplayer and highly repetitive and not following the trend of extremely short matches? I personally think it was either just a lack luster game that they had jus got around to playing or was to short for rpg 4-7 hours of story. Either way i think they just pushed it back indefintely. Also "What does the cancellation of Scalebound mean for future Xbox exclusives?" not much just that one with decent amount of hype got canceled and they'll have to try again, def not the end of the world
  • Well I can't knock them for s business descion. If it isnt looking like it'll produce the number you want then fine. I will say this. Im not attached to my single player game experence at all. Reality is doing a mission with a guy I've know for years is funner. However Im not big on competitive gaming for no other reason than it becomes less about enjoying yourself and more about just plain winning. So I'll take another borderlands or diablo type multiplayer.