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Microsoft says it wants video games like Hello-Fi Rush the day after killing its studio

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As we speak, sooner or later after Microsoft introduced that it would shut down four of its games studios, Matt Booty, head of Xbox Sport Studios, held a city corridor to debate the division’s future targets. “We want smaller video games that give us status and awards,” Booty instructed staff, in response to inside remarks shared with The Verge.

For some listeners on the decision, it was a shocking objective: Microsoft had simply shut down the Japanese developer Tango Gameworks, which was coming off the small, prestigious hit title Hello-Fi Rush.

Hello-Fi Rush, which was a surprise release last year, was praised for its innovation and attraction. The rhythm motion recreation featured music by The Black Keys and 9 Inch Nails, with an artwork type that evoked the hyper-stylized video games of the PS2 period. Simply 4 months after its launch, Hello-Fi Rush hit 3 million players. Through the 2023–2024 awards season, the sport went on to win a Sport Award, a D.I.C.E Award, a Sport Builders Alternative award, and a BAFTA.

Whereas Microsoft hasn’t shared gross sales knowledge, it was apparently proud of the sport. When rumors swirled that it wasn’t doing nicely commercially, Aaron Greenberg, vp of Xbox video games advertising and marketing, wrote on X that Hello-Fi Rush “was a get away hit for us and our gamers in all key measurements and expectations.”

By all accounts, together with Microsoft’s personal, Tango Gameworks made successful and one thing wholly unlike anything it’s made before. Earlier than Hello-Fi Rush, Tango Gameworks was identified completely for its survival horror video games, together with The Evil Inside collection and Ghostwire: Tokyo. In an interview with Kinda Funny Games, Xbox head Phil Spencer spoke about how essential it was for Xbox to permit studios to make video games outdoors their consolation zones.

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“I need to give the groups the inventive platform to go and push their potential, push their aspirations,” Spencer mentioned.

Hello-Fi Rush additionally represented Microsoft’s dedication to bringing Japanese exclusives to the console. In an interview with Game Watch, a Japanese online game media outlet, Spencer praised Hello-Fi Rush for its “prime quality” and mentioned that gamers might “anticipate” to see extra AAA titles from Japan, evoking the times when Misplaced Odyssey and Blue Dragon have been each exclusives on the Xbox 360. “Whereas there are titles we are able to’t announce but,” Spencer mentioned within the September 2023 interview, translated by VGC, “we’re at the moment growing new video games in collaboration with Japanese corporations.” It’s price questioning if that’s nonetheless the plan now that Tango is shut down.

Proper now, small single-player video games like Hello-Fi Rush are having an enormous second. Balatro, a poker roguelike made by a single developer, sold over 1 million copies in its first month. Manor Lords, one other solo-dev venture in early entry on Steam, has additionally sold over 1 million copies. Hades 2 just released in early access and doubled its predecessor’s all-time peak player count on Steam in a single day. Even the unique Hades is climbing again up the Steam charts, breaking its all-time peak player count record just today virtually 4 years after its preliminary launch.

Whereas we don’t know precisely what gross sales targets Microsoft had for Hello-Fi Rush, clearly there’s a demonstrated urge for food for this type of recreation, with Tango Gameworks positioned completely to ship it. In reality, in response to a report from Bloomberg, Tango Gameworks was within the strategy of pitching a sequel to Hello-Fi Rush earlier than it bought shut down.

With Hello-Fi Rush, Tango Gameworks gave Microsoft simply what Booty says he needs: a small, creatively distinctive, extremely praised, award-winning recreation. Booty’s feedback, then, recommend that Xbox’s leaders couldn’t acknowledge what they’d on their arms — or just didn’t know tips on how to reap the benefits of the success they have been in search of out.

We reached out to Microsoft for remark.

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