Microsoft Studios and Their History of Mismanagement

Microsoft Studios has given us some amazing games over the years and has made a mark in the industry. The company did however suffered from mismanagement.

In the gaming industry, Microsoft is among the giants. It’s the biggest competition to Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s systems. The company is knee deep in PC gaming with their Windows OS leading the way.

Over the years, Microsoft and its Xbox brand has given fans some brilliant games. From Halo to Gears of War, from Crackdown to Alan Wake, we have been amazed by what they have achieved.

As great as Microsoft and its studios have been, the journey wasn’t without its fair share of hurdles. Along the way MS made some decisions which we as fans may find a bit shady or an indication of mismanagement at the company.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that went wrong and hope that Microsoft will learn from them.

Microsoft Closed Its Victoria Studio After Two Years

Back in early 2012, Microsoft opened Victoria Studio. Many speculated that this will be the next big thing that will help the company improve its portfolio. At the time when the studio was created Microsoft didn’t say what the team is working on. To this day we don’t know what the development team at Microsoft Victoria did for two years.

Microsoft said it wants to “centralize development” at Vancouver.

Before the studio was closed down, Microsoft said Victoria is part-ways between Vancouver and Seattle. This made it the perfect location as it is close to MS headquarters. However, it seems after two years and zero out-put someone at MS realized that “centralized development” at Vancouver was the right way to go.

As a result of this move, over 30 employees reportedly lost their jobs. It is unknown if Microsoft relocated them to another studio as promised.

Starting Black Tusk Studio To Develop a New IP – Turning It Into Gears of War

Microsoft has given us some great games over the years but how many have they actually created? How many new IPs Microsoft first party studios have come-up with?  Microsoft uses timed exclusives and other similar tactics to sell its consoles and so far it has worked like a charm.

However, Microsoft attempted to create a new IP when Black Tusk Studio was introduced. But as we now know, that new IP never came out or was ever under development for long. They bought Gears of War from Epic and asked Black Tusk to develop it. They hired some of the staff from Epic as well, including the director of cinematics.

Once again, hopes of a new IP from a first party studio are put to rest.

Microsoft Announced Crackdown Xbox One – No Release Date, No Developer

Not too long ago Microsoft announced a new Crackdown game for Xbox One. No developer was mentioned and we were asked not to called it CrackDown 3, due to it being a sequel to 1.

Microsoft said:  “is it really 3? It is the future. This is a different place, long after the original game. But is it 2? Is it a different universe than 2? Yeah, it’s kinda a sequel to 1.”

Not announcing a developer raises many questions about the project. There were a lot for confusion at the time of CrackDown 2, is something similar happening behind the scenes this time as well? We can’t say for sure if the game has even gone into development at this point.

Xbox Entertainment Studio Closed Down Due To Being “Disorganized.” 

Xbox Entertainment Studio was created with an aim to make original TV content for Xbox. As you know the actual idea for Xbox One heavily emphasized on TV features and XES was believed to be an integral part of that idea. The studio that employed nearly 200 employees was shut down as it was “struggling” due to being “disorganized” and a lack of firm business model.

The Studio was established back in 2012.

Severing Ties With DarkSide and Canceling Their Version of Phantom Dust

Phantom Dust was released for the original Xbox and was a cult hit. Those who played the first game were excited to see Microsoft and DarkSide working on a reboot for Xbox One.

Sadly, the reboot went into development hell thanks to Microsoft’s decision to  end their relationship with developer Darkside. Due to this, Darkside had to shut down and around 50 employees lost their jobs.

Microsoft says they are still working on the game but it is unclear if they have completely scrapped Darkside’s version of Phantom Dust or they will start from where the team left the project.

Ruining One Of The Greatest Game Studios Of Its Time – Microsoft and Rare Was A Marriage Bound To Fail

Rare, what can we say about Rare that hasn’t been said before.They created gems, game of the year quality titles and then…

On 20th September 2002, Microsoft bought Rare for $375 million. Along with the studio, they bought its creative prowess, originality, technical know how and innovation. Only two years after Microsoft bought Rare, Chris and Tim Stamper, the founders of this historic studio left to pursue “other opportunities.”

Microsoft and Rare were expected to do wonders together but that never happened. Both of them wanted to make different games. Rare was used to making games for Nintendo, games that are primarily targeted the Eastern market. Microsoft on the other hand wanted to change that and asked Rare to develop games for the Western audience.

When Rare’s child like vibrancy met Microsoft’s testosterone filled games, things were bound to go south.

Microsoft first started to change the culture inside the studio. They gave them freedom and resources but Microsoft was inexperienced in the industry and trusted Rare to come-up with the type of games they wanted to see. However, Rare soon realized that Nintendo’s guidance was one of the main reasons they were so successful.

Things kept getting out of hand for Microsoft and to this day, they are struggling with Rare. As a result, Rare is now merely a shell of its true self.

In short, Microsoft failed to gain the output they wanted from one of the greatest gaming studios on its time.

This is how our industry works now. Big publishers  acquire talented studios which for many reasons don’t work out.

I’m not trying to portray Microsoft as the big bad wolf, but games mean more to us than corporate giants. It’s a form of art we all love and cherish dearly. It, and people associated with it, should be treated with the amount of respect they deserves.

Sarmad is our Senior Editor, and is also one of the more refined and cultured among us. He's 25, a finance major, and having the time of his life writing about videogames.