During the latest episode of the Kinda Funny Xcast, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer commented about the disappointing launch of Redfall, also hinting about what's next for Arkane's game.
Spencer mentioned that there's nothing more difficult for him than disappointing the Xbox community. Looking at what went wrong, he admitted that there are things that can be done in the field of quality and execution, but one thing that he will not do is "push against creative inspirations" of the teams working for Microsoft.
He mentions that some are arguing that teams should be forced to do the kind of games that they have a proven track record for, and Spencer does not believe in that. When a team like Rare wants to do Sea of Thieves, when a team like Obsidian wants to do Grounded, when Tango wants to do Hi-Fi Rush, he wants to give them the creative platform to push their abilities and aspirations.
That being said, he also needs to have a great selection of games coming out that surprise and delight the fans. Spencer admits that Microsoft underdelivered on that and for that, he apologizes. Yet, he mentioned that game publishers should not be afraid of delivering games that don't receive high review acclaim.
This isn't a Redfall-specific conversation but we will build games that review in the high eighties and we'll build games that review in the sixties. It's just kinda part of being in game publishing. If you're afraid of that, then you shouldn't be in the games business.
Spencer continued by mentioning that when a game falls short of the company's internal expectations, the process should be checked.
Looking at the reception for Redfall, Spencer gets the impression that people feel that it did not realize its creative vision, and that's not an issue that can be solved with a delay. Microsoft does delay games when it's just a matter of giving the team more time. Spencer believes that it's perhaps a bit simplistic to think that if the game was delayed by three months, the core creative of the game would have delivered something different.
If there's a production timeline issue, we'd be open to delaying. If we just have more bugs than we should have at the end of the game, we're open to delaying. At some point we have to have a creative vision and put the game out, and reviewers and players will tell us what they think.
Spencer also revealed that the reviews came out "double digits lower" than internal mock reviews indicated. Microsoft wouldn't want to launch a game that reviews in the low sixties, albeit its teams have done a good job increasing the quality of the games they ship recently.
But that's not on anybody but us. We have to own that. In terms of our commitment to the game, absolutely, the team at Arkane is on taking the near-term feedback. We're still working on the 60 frames per second, we have a good timeline for that. We're committed to getting that done, and we're gonna continue to work the game.
He added that Microsoft has shown commitment to games like Sea of Thieves and Grounded, but he also knows that the game is priced at $70 and he's taking full responsibility for it. Microsoft will remain committed to the game and the players. He wants to support the team, its creative ambition, and the players. While they let a lot of people down with the release of the game, they will strive on.
Late in the interview, Spencer explained that Microsoft needs to improve how they engage with projects that have been third-party and become first-party mid-development. Microsoft didn't do enough early on to engage with Arkane Austin and convey what it means to be part of the first-party studios and use some of the internal resources to help move along the project.
While he loves Arkane Austin and will "totally bet on them" to do another great game, he believes it's important to engage earlier and to provide technical help with Microsoft's internal resources as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that was not done.
When the issue with 60 FPS came up, they definitely dove in with developers from The Coalition and Rare who tried to help out, but it was too late to make the launch. This is something Microsoft has now learned the hard way.
Redfall is currently available for PC and Xbox Series X|S. if you want to see more, you can check out trailers for the playable cast, Jacob Boyer, Layla Ellison, Remi De La Rosa, and Devinder Crousley.
If you'd like to hear more, you can watch the full interview and read about Phil Spencer's reaction to the CMA's decision to block the acquisition of Activision Blizzard.