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Microsoft seeks innovative games like Hi-Fi Rush following the studio’s closure

Microsoft emphasises the need for innovative, award-winning games like Hi-Fi Rush amidst strategic shifts and studio closures.

Just a day after announcing the shutdown of four of its gaming studios, Microsoft's gaming division found itself in an ironic spot. During a town hall meeting, Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, emphasised the need for smaller, prestigious games that could bring the company not only accolades but also distinctiveness in the gaming world. This statement came shortly after the closure of Tango Gameworks, the Japanese developer behind the successful game Hi-Fi Rush, which Booty himself cited as a model of the creativity he seeks.

Hi-Fi Rush: A surprising hit with broad acclaim

Released unexpectedly last year, Hi-Fi Rush was quickly recognised for its innovative gameplay and unique style, reminiscent of the vibrant games from the PlayStation 2 era. The game, which integrates rhythm with action, features tracks from well-known artists like The Black Keys and Nine Inch Nails. Its popularity soared, reaching 3 million players within just four months of its release, and it garnered several awards during the 2023–2024 awards season, including a Game Award, a Game Developers Choice Award, and a BAFTA.

Despite not disclosing specific sales figures, Microsoft expressed satisfaction with the game's performance. Aaron Greenberg, vice president of Xbox games marketing, even addressed rumours about the game's financial struggles, asserting on social media that Hi-Fi Rush had exceeded all key expectations and had been a “breakout hit.”

The strategic shift and future of Japanese exclusives at Microsoft

Hi-Fi Rush not only marked a departure from Tango Gameworks' usual focus on survival horror games but also underscored Microsoft's commitment to securing Japanese exclusives—a move reminiscent of the Xbox 360 era with titles like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, highlighted the importance of diversity in game development in various interviews, encouraging studios to venture beyond their comfort zones and to anticipate more high-quality titles from Japan in the future.

However, the closure of Tango Gameworks raises questions about Microsoft's strategy and whether the company can continue to foster such innovative projects. As the gaming industry sees a surge in the popularity of small, single-player games, the demand for unique gaming experiences is evident. Titles like Balatro, Manor Lords, and Hades 2 have all seen significant as solo-developer projects, with sales surpassing the million mark shortly after their releases.

Bloomberg reported that Tango Gameworks' closure and the potential for a Hi-Fi Rush sequel suggest a disconnect between Microsoft's operational decisions and its strategic goals. As the company navigates these challenges, the gaming community will watch closely to see if Microsoft will adjust its approach to harness the and commercial potential it has previously cultivated.

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Emma Job
Emma Job
Emma is a freelance news editor at Tech Edition. With a decade's experience in content writing, she revels in both crafting and immersing herself in narratives. From tracking down viral trends to delving into the most recent news stories, her goal is to deliver insightful and timely content to her readers.

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