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Phil Spencer: "Running a sustainable business" the reason why Xbox closed multiple beloved Bethesda game studios

"We will continue to invest in what we're trying to go do in Xbox."

Hi-Fi Rush food court fight with Invaders Must Die soundtrack
Image credit: Microsoft

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has commented on the closure of studios like Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks: "sometimes I have to make hard decisions."

Last month, Microsoft announced that it was shutting down developers Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks, both highly beloved studios. It was a surprising and upsetting announcement for many, with Tango's closure being particularly surprising given Hi-Fi Rush's recent critical acclaim and Microsoft even saying it was happy with the game's performance. Arkane Austin's was equally frustrating, though perhaps less surprising considering how much Redfall, a live-service title made by a studio known for its single-player games, underperformed. Speaking at IGN Live, Spencer was asked to comment on the closures, and the reasoning behind the decision.

"The closure of any team is hard obviously on the individuals there, hard on the team," Spencer said. "I haven't been talking publicly about this, because right now is the time for us to focus on the team and the individuals. It's obviously a decision that's very hard on them, and I want to make sure through severance and other things that we're doing the right thing for the individuals on the team. It's not about my PR, it's not about Xbox PR. It's about those teams.

"In the end, I've said over and over, I have to run a sustainable business inside the company and grow, and that means sometimes I have to make hard decisions that frankly are not decisions I love, but decisions that somebody needs to go make. We will continue to go forward. We will continue to invest in what we're trying to go do in Xbox and build the best business we can, which ensures we can continue to do shows like the one we just did."

It doesn't really feel like a particularly satisfying answer, especially considering that reports indicated that Arkane Austin were somewhat pushed to make a live-service title by ZeniMax (the owners of Bethesda, who owned Arkane). Who knows where Arkane Austin might be had it been able to make a single-player title, the format the studio is best known for. Let's hope Microsoft doesn't have any further intention to once again add to the ever growing number of layoffs that have taken place over the past year.

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