Wondering why Xbox shut down Hi-Fi Rush’s studio? Matt Booty says he won’t say, then implies leadership change might be a factor

Following Microsoft’s shuttering of a bunch of studios last month, including Hi-Fi Rush developer Tango Gameworks and Redfall studio Arkane Austin, Xbox’s execs have been asked a few times – as you’d hope – which that call was made. Matt Booty’s the latest to talk about it with regards to Tango in particular, and his answer’s an interesting one.

Prior to Booty, the current head of Xbox Game Studios, saying the stuff below, the console maker’s big cheese Phil Spencer had put the closures down to the need to “run a sustainable business” meaning that “sometimes I have to make hard decisions that frankly are not decisions I love, but decisions that somebody needs to go make”.

Now, asked specifically about Tango’s shuttering during an interview on Variety’s Strictly Business podcast, Booty seems to have implied that the change in leasdership at the studio necessitated by founder Shinji Mikami’s departure in 2023.

“I won’t get into the real nitty-gritty details on what went into the decision, mostly out of respect for the people there”, the exec said, “just because there was a lot of work that went into delivering Hi-Fi Rush, which was a great game and did well for us.”

He then continued: “I think the thing to be considered is that for us it’s as much a forward-looking situation as much as it is looking back at one certain game. There are a lot of things that go into success for a game. What leadership do you have? What creative leadership do you have? Is the team the same team that shipped something successful previously?

“We have to look at all of those things together and ask ourselves, are we set up for success going forward? And while there may have been factors and situations that previously led to success, they may not all still be in place as you look at what you’re doing going forward.”

Booty then addressed the idea of options other than closure having potentially been on the table, citing the fact that studios like Toys For Bob and Twisted Pixel have gone independent after being part of the MS machine. “We absolutely look at what the possible business options are to keep a studio open or perhaps have it change hands, and it’s just one of the things that we look at across the board,” the exec said, “Sometimes these things come together, sometimes they don’t.”

Odds are if you’re a fan of Hi-Fi Rush or Tango’s other games, these words won’t make you feel any better about what happened than Spencer’s did, especially since accepting that the jobs of folks who’re putting out good games can just come down to things, in Booty’s words, sometimes just not working out from a corporate perspective.

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