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Canceling production of a game is a huge deal for any publisher. They all want to see a game to fruition, and cringe at the thought of seeing their money go down the drain without any product to show for it.
But Scalebound's cancelation is particularly striking. This was advertised as one of the Xbox One's greatest upcoming exclusives, and certainly the biggest of its investment in new IPs. It was a game being made by one of the great studios of the world, for a console that was dying to see something like it.
The most basic explanation given for today's news is that Microsoft didn't see Scalebound as on-track for success and decided to end its life before anything really bad could happen. Although that may be accurate, there appears to be much more to the story than what can be told in a single sentence.
A CNET writer by the name of Adam Bolton says that he knows "a guy immediately involved with Kamiya and Scalebound". He went on to explain that what he heard made him "sick to his stomach", as it's "Microsoft's shady handling of Platinum that is responsible for this."
Several other industry members including Polygon's Michael McWhertor shared similar reports.
Many have been quick to say that it's PlatinumGames' fault for not meeting expectations with the project. Bolton's source says otherwise.
He added that "milestones were made to be unachievable by Microsoft, thanks to some shady contract work". He even said that Microsoft was "withholding pay".
Although these are big claims, they appear to be congruent with the nature of the move. First, Microsoft didn't announce the cancelation until after a report was leaked by Kotaku this morning. In addition, last week Microsoft removed the title from its website and last week's Xbox Wire post. We all knew something was wrong.
Following Xbox Head Phil Spencer's comment that the cancelation was "disappointing", Microsoft is now making an effort to remove any trace of Scalebound's existence, starting with the deletion of all trailers and gameplay videos related to the game. This is no ordinary break up.
The situation does a disservice to both Microsoft and PlatinumGames, both of which have demonstrated industry excellence in the past. At the very least there are still several attractive exclusives coming to Xbox One this year.