"They asked for things pretty quickly. We kept telling them, 'We cannot make this game for the budget you want.'"
- An anonymous source quoted by Kotaku sheds light on why Darkside's deal with Microsoft to reboot Phantom Dust fell apart.
Earlier this year Microsoft abruptly ended a partnership it had made with Florida-based Darkside Game Studios to develop a remake of the Xbox game Phantom Dust for Xbox One. Shortly thereafter, Darkside laid off almost all of its staff.
At the time, Microsoft gave no explanation for the break; the company simply said development on the game, announced the year prior in a surprise E3 2014 trailer, would continue. However, a new report from Kotaku suggests that Darkside lost the project (and nearly all of its vigor as a studio) because Microsoft repeatedly set unreasonable expectations for the game -- starting with that E3 trailer.
"We didn’t even know if they were going to show it,” one alleged former employee told Kotaku. "They didn’t use any of our assets, they didn’t use any of our card packs, nothing. Basically what they showed had nothing to do with the game whatsoever. We had no idea that was even happening… It was like, ‘Holy crap, now fans are expecting characters to look like that, and that’s not what we’re making.'"
Multiple sources quoted by Kotaku claim the project had its ups and downs from there, but that Darkside's relationship with Microsoft remained positive. However, sources say the publisher kept asking for more features (including a full single-player campaign) without a concomitant increase in budget -- and that eventually sunk the project for Darkside.
“There was just no leeway,” stated one source. "[Microsoft] said, ‘OK, let’s cut our losses," after reportedly sinking more than $2 million of the game's $5 million budget into the project.
You can (and should) check out the full account of what happened over on Kotaku.