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[STEAM][PRESS]Microsoft Destroyed Arkane Austin but the Studio’s Soul Is Indestructible


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15 minutes into Prey, the 2017 sci-fi thriller crafted by Arkane Austin, protagonist Morgan Yu shatters their apartment window with a wrench. As hundreds of glass shards fall away, a newly revealed truth changes Morgan’s life forever. This genuinely shocking, perspective-pivoting opening is one of the most incredible introductions to a game world ever made.

Seven days into May 2024,
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took up its own metaphorical wrench and shattered Arkane Austin. A veteran of immersive sims – those first-person, highly interactive games where RPG, simulation, and action systems interlock – it was one of the casualties of Xbox’s brutal dismemberment of Bethesda Softworks.

This is a heartbreaking situation. Staff ***** off from Arkane Austin have been thrown into the toughest conditions the games industry has ever seen. But, if you’ll permit me to search for the light in this darkness, the soul of the studio has already proven itself incredibly resilient. This is not the first time that financials and parent companies have dictated the course of the immersive sim in Austin, Texas. Despite multiple hardships, the genre always finds a way to survive in this city.

Arkane Austin's approach to game design was genuinely beautiful – an elegance matched by few other studios. And, in a drive for soulless corporate number counting,
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has destroyed it.

In
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’s own multi-part documentary Power On: The Story of Xbox, a
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saw Phil Spencer say “You acquire a studio for what they’re great at now, and your job is to help them accelerate how they do what they do, not them accelerate what you do.”

You’d assume, then, that Xbox would want to foster Arkane Austin. To help it overcome the ******** of Redfall and resume – to quote
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– “making impactful and innovative games”. But if a highly profitable corporation worth over $3 trillion has no interest in absorbing one mistake and finding a way to shepherd its artists to success, then one thing is clear: that promise to help studios “accelerate” what they’re good at is empty.

Arkane Austin may be gone, but the people still remain. And that brings me back to the studio’s soul. That soul is a community; a growing collective of immersive sim designers that have endured success and hardship in the city of Austin for close to three decades.

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