Back at E3, we had the chance to speak with Microsoft Studios general manager Shannon Loftis. While much of our conversation was about the upcoming Project Scorpio, we did discuss games.
Immediately prior to E3, Crackdown 3 was delayed out of 2016. Loftis explained to us why that is.
“Development has been going incredibly well. I’ve actually been playing a ton of it,” she told me. “To be honest, because we obviously have this Crackdown Online mode and then we also have the traditional Crackdown campaign, which has multiplayer online. But we want to launch our online beta so that it’s not too far in advance of the complete campaign. It’s actually the campaign that we’re doubling down on now. We’ve got internal play sessions every week for Crackdown Online. We’re starting now to get the campaign in. Building these open world games is both challenging and a blast, because you have to build all of the systems that interact together. Before you get to the point where you can actually experience what the game feels like and can start building your missions and telling your stories.”
Loftis also explained that they’ve taken a different approach to Crackdown than what was developed for the first two entries. The world is more responsive to player action.
“So the Crackdown campaign is definitely the most fully featured campaign we’ve ever done. It’s basically running a sim on top of the traditional Crackdown environment. We created this thing called a ‘hate table.’ Depending on what you choose to destroy in the environment, there will be massive, big reactions all over the city. Gangs will get together against you. This is the first time we’ve ever had something like that. It’s just starting to come online. We have lots of time to put together our missions. I don’t like letting gamers down and asking them to wait, but I’m also kind of proud of giving developers the time they need.”
Loftis’ statements are in contrast with what Xbox marketing manager Aaron Greenberg said on the TXR podcast this week (timestamp: 34:20). “We don’t need the game this year,” he said. “We’ve got ReCore, we’ve got Forza Horizon 3, we’ve got Gears of War 4, we’ve got Dead Rising 4 – just on the stuff we’re publishing before you get to all the great third-party titles. We have a great partnership with EA around Madden, around Battlefield. We’ve been more thoughtful about spreading out our titles over the next year; not cramming them all into the holiday. Giving people time to play games; to have time and money to be able to go buy the next game. When we look at that window of time, we sure didn’t need another big AAA game, and so we’d rather give the team time and bring that out sometime next year.”
It’s all well and good to say that your holiday line up is so crammed that you chose to move a game later to give it breathing room, but based on what we were told that’s not the case here. Crackdown’s campaign is ambitious. It needs more time, as some of the systems are just coming online (let alone missions and story). It’s unclear where the disconnect between the two executives was here.