Spencer, in an appearance on IGN Unlocked, briefly reflected on PlatinumGames’ ambitious but ill-fated fantasy game, and put to rest any hopes of its return.
New talk of Scalebound still manages to pop up, even when it’s been more than three years since its cancellation.
Appearing on the latest episode on IGN’s Unlocked, Xbox head Phil Spencer was asked about the ill-fated project from PlatinumGames and any hope of its development restarting.
“We’re not working on it,” Spencer said. “I’m not at Platinum today, but I’m almost positive they’re not working on it. It’s something we all moved past.
“It’s not a moment that I see as a high point for me in my role, having to cancel a game that we had talked about for years. But yeah, for the people out there who are kind of thinking that maybe there’s something still in the works, there’s not.”
Announced during Microsoft’s press conference at E3 2014 as an exclusive for the Xbox One, Scalebound represented Platinum and director Hideki Kamiya’s most ambitious project by far, and one that went outside of the studio’s perceived comfort zone.
Whereas most of Platinum’s games to that point (and after) were built to be fast-paced and focused action experiences, Scalebound was intended to go in a different direction. Action remained at the foundation, but graphics, scale, and role-playing mechanics also took high priority as footage shown in the proceeding years later revealed about the fantasy world where players were to fight alongside a dragon companion far bigger than them.
Development reportedly wasn’t going as planned, though, and Microsoft decided to pull the plug in January 2017.
“It’s a tough one, because I have a ton of respect for Platinum, Kamiya-san and the team,” Spencer said on Unlocked. “I feel no ill will, and we talk to those guys. There’s no animosity between the teams. We tried to go do something and it didn’t work.”
This isn’t the first time Spencer has talked about Scalebound’s cancellation, and Platinum’s studio head Atsushi Inaba, who was a producer on the project, admitted that its failure was the fault of both parties.
Part of the problem, Spencer believes, was that the game was announced far too early, a mistake that he noted was also made with Fable Legends and the since defunct Lionhead Studios.
“I regret that we were as public about what we tried to go do,” Spencer said. “I did some learning around Fable Legends, I did some learning around Scalebound, about being public about things before I know that we got a real believable plan and something that I felt in my hands and we’d know was gonna be there.
“We just didn’t get there with Scalebound and with the team, and I say that across both teams. So, I think what you hear — at least when you hear the teams, us talk about it — is that we loved some of the ideas that we were trying to go do. Obviously, we wanted to ship a great game to our customers. Every time we start a game, that’s our end goal. So of course we’re gonna be a little upset that we weren’t able to deliver on our goals with that title.”
Inaba said at the beginning of February that he was interested in returning to the game, but that Platinum’s ability to do so relies entirely on Microsoft, which owns the Scalebound IP.
Kamiya, on the other hand, was blunt about still wanting to make Scalebound at Platinum’s PAX East panel a few weeks later, along with a few other games that would require some legal legwork from his former employer, Capcom.
With that said, Platinum has rebounded nicely since Scalebound’s cancellation.
The studio, under publisher Square Enix and writer/director Yoko Taro, launched the highly acclaimed NieR: Automata in February 2017, and is working with Square again on the upcoming Babylon’s Fall. Platinum also released the Nintendo Switch exclusive Astral Chain last summer, and has positioned itself to begin self-publishing its games, starting with The Wonderful 101: Remastered (releasing May 19).
Microsoft, meanwhile, is getting ready for the launch of its next-gen Xbox Series X, which Spencer shed more light on during the Unlocked episode.
You can read up on some of the individual highlights by following the links below.