Microsoft just announced that Scalebound has been cancelled. While many media outlets are shocked over this, I’m really not surprised. We didn’t have an update on the game for months and it also wasn’t listed in a recent press release which Microsoft put out confirming which games were coming in 2017. If those weren’t dead giveaways as to the fate of Scalebound, then I don’t know what is. We were told Crackdown 3 was coming holiday 2017 or sooner but they forgot to mention Scalebound? Come on. These are obvious signs. Let’s analyze the situation for a minute. Would Xbox One gamers have bought Scalebound? I personally don’t think so for a number of reasons.
Let’s take a look at another Japanese role-playing game that launched a few weeks ago: Final Fantasy 15. If you look at sales of any other game, let’s say Battlefield 1, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 figures are roughly the same. The player count is almost identical. For some shooters, like Destiny, the games sold better on Xbox One than PlayStation 4 despite the console’s significant lead over Microsoft’s device. Now let’s take a look at Final Fantasy 15. Final Fantasy 15 sold around 70-80% on PlayStation 4 than Xbox One. This is a significant departure from other games and is one of the main reason the Xbox One doesn’t get Japanese titles.
Even if you look at sales of games like Lost Odyssey or Blue Dragon on Xbox 360, we can see that this trend continues. Not many people bought those titles. Let’s go further. What about Shenmue 2 on the original Xbox? That game is considered to be a failure in terms of sales. The problem is that these games don’t appeal to a Western audience who purchase Xbox consoles. Due to this they don’t sell well and are a substantial risk for anyone who funds them. Scalebound was also a risk but one that Microsoft took for an extended period of time until they just couldn’t do it anymore.
Aside from that, we knew that PlatinumGames and Microsoft had a troublesome relationship. Rumors of this were floating around for months and at once point even Hideki Kamiya said working with Microsoft was a pain because they weren’t used to rigid schedules and other standards that the publisher imposed. I’m also positive I remember Kamiya abusing Microsoft in a tweet a few months ago. Remember that controversy? These aren’t the signs of a healthy relationship when the director’s social media page is filled with abuse towards the publisher.
Lastly, Scalebound didn’t look like it was on the level of Bayonetta in terms of animations. The combat seemed clunky and there were various issues with the camera. My biggest problem was with how the player moved. The gameplay just wasn’t smooth and wasn’t what I would’ve expected in terms of quality when it comes to Microsoft exclusives. It needed a lot of work and I just don’t know if PlatinumGames have the expertise to create a game on the scale of The Witcher 3. Had they been developing it with their own funds, it would’ve been different, they could’ve taken all the time in the world. However, when you’re burning through the funds of a publisher, it doesn’t work that way. When goals aren’t met and the project still has quality issues that even people watching gameplay can notice, it’s time to throw in the towel.
While I wish that Japanese games sold better on Xbox systems and that Microsoft partnered with another developer to work on Scalebound, I can understand why they would want out of a terrible situation which had many problems. The fact that sales would’ve been poor, PlatinumGames and Microsoft were at odds with one another, and the game wasn’t living up to the quality they expected, I don’t think there was any other choice than to cancel the project. I personally think they should’ve done the same with ReCore despite the fact that it’s one of my favorite games from 2016. I would rather have Western-focused games like something along the lines of The Last of Us from Microsoft than an over-the-top Japanese role-playing adventure. Phil Spencer needs to invest money in more serious games than exaggerated gimmicks.
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