Just yesterday the sad news came that Scalebound, an Xbox One exclusive being developed by PlatinumGames, was officially canceled. The game had been MIA for a couple of months, even being left off of the recent Xbox Wire post that covered upcoming awesomeness. It was becoming clear that development was a bit troubled, with this being one of the largest and most ambitious titles from Hideki Kamiya (Resident Evil 1 & 2, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, The Wonderful 101). It had been delayed into 2017 after having been set for a holiday 2016 release, with the studio falling silent after the shift into the new year.
It’s not entirely clear why the game was canceled after the delay. The official Microsoft statement simply states:
“After careful deliberation, Microsoft Studios has come to the decision to end production for Scalebound. We’re working hard to deliver an amazing lineup of games to our fans this year, including Halo Wars 2, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves and other great experiences.”
That’s not much to go on, but it seems like this was being considered for some time. It’s an unfortunate turn of events seeing as how Scalebound was easily one of the most anticipated exclusives set to release this year. It makes us wonder, can anyone take advantage of Microsoft killing the project?
Now before we get into it, we’re well aware that a game can’t be picked up if someone else owns the intellectual property (IP). Microsoft was going to be the publisher of Scalebound, so it is likely that they worked out some sort of deal where the IP ended up belonging to them. That would mean that they could find some other studio to finish or restart the project in the future, or even bury it in the ground (which them removing all of the videos from their YouTube accounts seems to point to). However, it is possible that PlatinumGames owns the Scalebound IP, leaving themselves open to deals in the future now that development has halted. For the sake of argument, we’re going to go with the game still being in Hideki Kamiya’s hands.
If Scalebound is indeed the property of PlatinumGames after parting ways with Microsoft, that means it could be picked up by another publisher which puts it in an exciting position. Letting something so highly anticipated go to waste is a bad move, so you can bet your bottom dollar that there are some publishers waiting in the shadows just itching to get in on the action that already has quite a bit of a following (meaning a lot of the work is already done for them). However, there are two specific publishers that would really benefit from making this move: Sony and Nintendo.
Both Sony and Nintendo prosper mainly off their exclusive titles. Sony has a rich stable of first party developers, including Naughty Dog, Santa Monica, Japan Studio, and Guerrilla Games, as well as strong third-party partnerships with the likes of Bandai Namco and Square Enix (among others). Nintendo is best recognized for its lineup of classic franchises, but have recently made strong ties with other studios and publishers for some great exclusive titles. It just so happens that one of the studios that Nintendo has gotten friendly with is Scalebound’s PlatinumGames, who released Bayonetta 2 exclusively on the Wii U.
It’s become apparent that both Sony and Nintendo have no qualms bringing dead projects or highly anticipated games to life. We would have never received a sequel to Bayonetta’s exploits if it weren’t for Nintendo. Sony, on the other hand, has been pulling franchises out of its hat like some sort of endless magic trick, with recent announcements including Shenmue III, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and a remastering of Crash Bandicoot. So, if it were possible to revive Scalebound alongside PlatinumGames it’s been proven that these are two companies that are definitely up to the task. The question is: should they?
Right now Scalebound is hot because 1) it was a huge Microsoft exclusive that added a blast of color and a different flavor of action to their usually safe lineup, and 2) it’s a new, original IP from PlatinumGames. Their licensed titles are often hit and miss, but their original games are always received with open arms as they deliver their special, unique blend of combat and spectacle. With that being said, the quick answer is yes. But that brings up the next question: who would be a better fit for the title?