Xbox boss claims ‘full responsibility’ for lacklustre Redfall launch

Phil Spencer has made some big comments on Redfall's critical reception, just days after the game's launch.
Redfall Remi Arkane Austin

Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming and Head of Xbox, has claimed ‘full responsibility’ for the poor launch of Arkane Studios’ Redfall, which landed to overwhelmingly negative critical and player reception in May 2023. In a new interview with the Kinda Funny Xcast, Spencer has said there is ‘nothing more difficult for [him] than disappointing the Xbox community’ and that he’s ‘disappointed with [himself]’ over the game’s reception.

‘The critical response was not what we wanted,’ Spencer said. ‘I think back to the announcement of 60 frames-per-second, then we weren’t shipping 60 FPS, that was our punch in the chin – rightfully – a couple of weeks ago.’

According to Spencer, the team would ‘never strive to launch a game that [it] thought was going to review in the low 60s’ as that’s not part of Microsoft’s goals – but he does not lay the blame on the ambitions of Arkane.

‘One thing I’ll fight is “what went wrong?”. There’s clearly quality and execution things we can do, but one thing I won’t do is push against [the] creative aspirations of our teams.’

Spencer described himself as a ‘huge supporter’ of developer Arkane Austin, and praised their track record with excellent adventure games like Prey (2017) and Dishonored. But he also made clear he felt Arkane didn’t hit their own ‘internal goals’ in the creation of Redfall – which has been widely regarded as the studio’s first high-profile failure.

Read: Redfall review – The world is a vampire

While some players have speculated that a further delay may have reduced some of the major issues holding Redfall back, Spencer has also pushed back on this narrative, suggesting it’s a very ‘simplistic’ view of a complex creative problem.

‘There are quality issues and we’re working on those, but a fundamental piece of feedback I get is that the game isn’t realising the creative vision that it had for its players,’ Spencer said. ‘That doesn’t feel like a, “hey, just delay it,” that feels like the game had a goal to do one thing and when players are actually playing they’re not feeling that.’

Regardless of the complex challenges Arkane may face in righting the rocky Redfall ship, Spencer believes there will be future improvements that may address player concerns.

‘The team at Arkane is taking the near-term feedback, we’re still working on the 60FPS – we have a good timeline for that – and we’re committed to getting that done,’ Spencer said. ‘We’re going to continue to work the game. I think we’ve shown a commitment to games like Sea of Thieves and Grounded to continue to go and build games.’

Later in the Kinda Funny Xcast, Spencer further speculated that Redfall‘s poor launch and bug-filled gameplay may have been a result of Microsoft acquiring Bethesda and Arkane mid-way through the game’s production.

‘When we acquire studios, there are games that are in development, and then there’s things that are either really early in development or not even conceived yet,’ Spencer explained. ‘I think we need to improve in engaging with games that are mid-way through production when they become part of Xbox.’

‘We should’ve been there for Harvey [Smith, Arkane Studio Director] and the team earlier. I think that’s on us. And then through the process. It’s an Unreal game, we have a bunch of studios that have done some really great work on Unreal over the years, and I think we were too late to help in that when they had certain issues.’

Spencer used these comments as a pivot to reassure fans that the upcoming Starfield, in development at Bethesda Game Studios, got the bulk of support and attention from Microsoft. In theory, this should mean a more refined experience that will be ready for players at launch.

For now, it does appear Microsoft and Arkane have plans to address Redfall‘s many quirks – but we’ll have to stay tuned to see whether these improvements address the many concerns of players.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.