Xbox is still working on rebooting some of its classic series’, like Perfect Dark and Fable, and has acknowledged how another stumbled along the way with Halo Infinite.
In an interview with the Friends Per Second podcast, head of Xbox Game Studios’ Matt Booty touched on some of the long-absent reboots, explaining timelines, partnerships, and obstacles. When asked about Perfect Dark and leadership changes on the project, the Xbox boss explained their partnership with Crystal Dynamics.
Booty referred to developer The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics’ efforts on Perfect Dark as “co-development,” and made it clear they’re an “equal partner in the development.” That is to say, Crystal Dynamics isn’t on board for just the outsourcing of assets or other pieces of the project.
“It hasn’t been so much leadership changes as it has been building a studio,” Booty said. “I think one of the most difficult things these last few years has been finalizing a big game on the scale of a Halo or Battlefield during the conditions that we’ve had.”
Those conditions Booty references are changes to studio work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Xbox head noted they’ve tried several new methods around workflow and attracting talent since it began. He also stated this sort of “tight co-development” is something we’ll see more of in the future.
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When asked about Fable, GameSpot noted Booty’s praise for developer Playground Games. It’s a studio primarily known for its racing titles, like the Forza Horizon series, but the Xbox boss noted Playground brings “high craft, high quality, high attention to detail” to projects. He said the team had “a particular passion for the IP,” and they “understand what the heart and soul of Fable is about and how they can bring it forward for today’s sensibilities.”
Polygon also highlighted Booty’s openness regarding Halo Infinite and its stumbles at launch and through the update cycle. He compared Halo Infinite’s struggles to the “classic runner’s mistake of tripping and stumbling as you come across the finish line,” also mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Booty acknowledged the challenges around sudden remote work, hybrid work, figuring out how to adapt, and the team size during the pandemic, calling it a “worst-case condition for trying to get games done.” He praised the team for getting it done and shipping it, acknowledging that some of those struggles became more apparent in Halo Infinite’s long-term content plan – where Booty says Xbox “fell short.”
Developer 343 has struggled to meet several update goals for new Halo Infinite features, including delays for Forge Mode and eventually canceling split-screen co-op entirely.
From the interview with Booty, it sounds like the Halo Infinite team has new post-launch plans in place and a game plan going forward for future updates. Halo Infinite’s big Winter Update launches tomorrow, November 8.
Andrea Shearon is a freelance contributor for IGN covering games and entertainment. She’s worn several hats over her seven-year career in the games industry, with bylines over at Fanbyte, USA Today’s FTW, TheGamer, VG247, and RPG Site. Find her on Twitter (@Maajora) or the Materia Possessions podcast chatting about FFXIV, RPGs, and any series involving giant robots.