Xbox Explains Why It Shuttered Beloved Hi-Fi Rush Developer 1

Hi-Fi Rush released on PS5 earlier this year to the same kind of critical acclaim it had already received on Xbox Series X|S and PC – then Microsoft decided to unceremoniously shut the studio down. Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who has been curiously quiet in the aftermath of the closure, piped up during an IGN interview overnight, explaining that he has to run a “sustainable” business.

“I haven’t been talking publicly about [the closures] because right now is a time for us to focus on the team and the individuals,” he said. “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.”

He continued: “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 do in Xbox, and build the best business that we can, which ensures we can continue to do shows like the one we just did.”

The problem with Spencer’s comments is that they can quite easily be picked apart. For example, it acquired Tango Gameworks – along with Arkane Austin, another studio it closed down – as part of its $7 billion acquisition of Bethesda. It then went on to spend a further $69 billion on Activision Blizzard. Microsoft, meanwhile, is worth trillions.

Furthermore, Xbox has decided to follow a business model which sees all of its software given away as part of a relatively low-price subscription, which has failed to substantially grow in recent years. While the manufacturer insists this product is profitable, it’s never been particularly transparent with the numbers in order to prove it’s not being propped up by its parent company’s obscene riches.

All this is to say that, while we’re sure Spencer does have tough job building a sustainable business, it’s unfortunate seeing talented teams like Tango Gameworks shuttered when the firm clearly has unfathomable finances to invest elsewhere. And to be honest, it’s hard to feel too much sympathy for the management when it’s splashing the cash on buying up some of the biggest publishers on the planet.

Of course, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that all studio closures are disappointing, and there’s been numerous unfortunate losses under the PlayStation umbrella as well. While we understand sometimes games don’t come together or find a substantial audience, the shuttering of divisions like Japan Studio and London Studio still stings.