Hi-Fi Rush lead reacts to Xbox exec asking for "smaller games that give us prestige and awards" - right after closing studio that made prestigious, award-winning, smaller game

Hi-Fi Rush screenshot showing Chai looking up at a split Zoom call between the game's five bosses.
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios / Bethesda)

Microsoft reportedly told staff that the company needs smaller games for the added prestige, one day after it closed down the studio that made them a smaller, prestigious game. 

Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty held a town hall meeting with staff yesterday to discuss the division's future and news of Xbox shutting down four subsidiaries, according to a report from The Verge. "We need smaller games that give us prestige and awards," Booty reportedly told staff. 

Booty's comments have obviously raised eyebrows online since the company closed the Japan-based Tango Gameworks earlier this week, a year after the studio had released critical gem Hi-Fi Rush, the effortlessly endearing marriage between rhythm games and stylish slashers à la Bayonetta.

Game director John Johanas reacted to the comments with a simple screenshot of in-game companion Peppermint looking rather... well, you can infer what you like from the image below.

Hi-Fi Rush seemed to meet both of Booty's goals. The game won a BAFTA Award for its characterful animation that always moved to the beat, a Game Award for its equally impressive audio, and was nominated for several accolades at other award shows. Johanas previously revealed that "it was not a cheap game to make," though compared to Xbox's Call of Dutys, Fallouts, and Forzas, Hi-Fi Rush was certainly in the "smaller games" camp. 

Microsoft Gaming's cutbacks affected three other studios with Arkane Austin (Prey, Redfall) and Alpha Dog (mobile spin-off Mighty Doom) also gone. Roundhouse Studios was then effectively folded into ZeniMax Online, the studio currently at work on MMO The Elder Scrolls Online. 

Bloomberg's Jason Schreier added some context to the turmoil on social media, explaining that "ZeniMax had to consolidate and chose to shutter studios that were pitching rather than studios with active projects" - the latter option would also effectively double as canceling in-development games.  

Tango Gameworks was supposedly "in the process of pitching a sequel" to Hi-Fi Rush, meanwhile, the team at Arkane Austin was pitching a return to their immersive sim roots with a project that might have been a "new entry in the Dishonored series."

As Xbox shutters studios, community concern mounts for the teams behind Hellblade, Doom, Avowed, and more.

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.