Xbox’s studio shuttering casts a pall over summer games events | Kaser Focus

The big story of this week is a grim one: Xbox has shuttered three of its internal game studios and merged a fourth with one of its existing teams. We’ve lost Tango Gameworks, which just launched the BAFTA-winning Hi-Fi Rush; Arkane Austin, the developers of well-received Prey and the poorly received Redfall; Alpha Dog Games, the mobile developer behind the top-down title Mighty Doom; and Roundhouse Studios, the reincarnation of original Prey developer Human Head Studios. (Side note: This means that Xbox managed to close both of the Prey studios in one fell swoop.)

The games industry’s outlook already looked pretty grim going into this week. The number of layoffs in 2024 is poised to match, if not surpass, 2023’s 10,000. But this has made things feel especially dire. After all, while Redfall was a bit of a stinker, Hi-Fi Rush was one of 2023’s best games — I put it in my top 5! That wasn’t enough to save the studio from the chopping block, despite Matt Booty saying in subsequent town hall that prestige indies were precisely what the company wanted. Roundhouse’s fate of being folded into the ZeniMax Online seems almost gentle by comparison, but it’s still a loss.

We’re still a month out from the summer gaming showcases — Summer Games Fest, Nintendo’s June Direct, Ubisoft Forward and the Xbox Games Showcase. It’s going to be difficult to get excited about the games, at least for me. It’s a dark thought, but if a studio can be closed despite releasing an excellent game that fulfills the parent company’s precise mandate, then is it even worth getting invested in these games or their creators? If nothing else, the cheer Xbox Showcase — where we’re likely to see Indiana Jones and the Great Circle and very likely the next Call of Duty game — is going to feel forced. Xbox can swear up and down that the Sword of Damocles isn’t hanging over its developer’s heads, but it’s too late: We’ve already seen it swinging.

In personal news, there’s at least one ray of sunshine in my life: Nancy Drew: Mystery of the Seven Keys has finally launched. I’m also planning to get a little time in with Hades 2 this weekend. The first game managed to get on my good sides despite my hatred of roguelikes, so hopefully the sequel will continue this pattern. Other than that, I’ll be taking it easy because this week has been much.

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What to play this week

What’s new:

  • Hades 2 (early access)
  • Nancy Drew: Mystery of the Seven Keys
  • Little Kitty, Big City
  • V Rising
  • Animal Well
  • Crow Country
  • With My Past
  • Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle: Chomp Champs
  • Rainbow Cotton Remaster

New on subscription services:

  • Kona II: Brume (Xbox Game Pass)
  • EA Sports FC 24 Standard Edition (PlayStation Plus)
  • Ghostrunner 2 (PlayStation Plus)
  • Tunic (PlayStation Plus)
  • Farmer’s Life (GeForce Now)
  • Honkai: Star Rail (GeForce Now)
  • Supermarket Simulator (GeForce Now)
  • Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (GeForce Now)
  • Dark City: International Intrigue (Prime Gaming)
  • Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition (Prime Gaming)
  • Nine Witches: Family Disruption (Prime Gaming)
  • Electrician Simulator (Prime Gaming)

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