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Phil Spencer Apologizes: Redfall Launched ‘Double Digits’ Lower Than Internal Mock Reviews

Xbox head Phil Spencer apologizes, gets brutally honest about why Redfall went wrong, says mock internal reviews scored double digits better.

Xbox head Phil Spencer has commented on the lackluster reception to Redfall, calling its launch “disappointing” as Xbox and Arkane Austin begin their post-launch support plans. Spencer addressed fan concerns with honest explanations during a recent interview with Kinda Funny, where he was asked to give his thoughts on what went wrong.

“There’s nothing that’s more difficult to me than disappointing the Xbox community,” Spencer said. “I’ve been a part of it for a long time. I obviously work on Xbox, head of the business, have a lot of friends, get a lot of feedback, and to watch the community lose confidence, be disappointed… I’m disappointed. I’m upset with myself.”

For those out of the loop, Redfall launched as developer Arkane and publisher Bethesda’s first Xbox-exclusive title just a few days ago. The studio is known for its high-quality stories and gameplay, so it was especially sad to see the vampire first-person shooter launch with an average score of 62 for Xbox and 58 for PC on Metacritic. Steam player reception is similarly abysmal at “Mostly Negative” after around 1,200 reviews. On the digital PC storefront, buyers complain that Redfall feels as though it is “25% finished,” referencing poor performance, a litany of bugs, clunky mechanics, unintelligent AI, and a whole lot more.

However, Phil Spencer said he does not believe that delaying the game would have fixed it, because he thinks one of the core issues is that Redfall did not deliver on its intended “creative vision” for players, which is not a thing a simple delay could address.

Spencer acknowledged that Redfall launched far below Microsoft’s expectations. In fact, he explains that Redfall failed to live up to a bar set by the company’s internal review system: “We do mock reviews for every game that we launch, and this is double digits lower than we thought we would be with this game through our mock reviews. That’s one of the disappointing things: We would never strive to launch a game that we thought was going to review in the low 60s. It’s not part of our goals.”

He continued to explain that Microsoft is confident in the overall quality of its games but that Xbox has to own when mistakes are made:

If you look at our review scores over the last year — and it’s not a defense at all… I think the teams have done a better job of upping the level of quality of games that we’ve shipped. Some of those games first shipped on PlayStation, but still, when I go through the list of games, you still have to build a game, you still have to ship a game, and this game was significantly below our internal metrics in terms of where it actually reviewed. But that’s not on anybody but us. We have to own that.

Redfall development will continue despite its poor launch performance. Spencer promised that additional updates are coming as Xbox and Arkane are committed to improving the overall experience. This includes Redfall’s 60 FPS update, as Spencer assured, “We have a good timeline for that.”

“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, but I also know that these games are $70. And I’m going to take full responsibility for launching a game that needs to be great.”

Spencer doubled down on his commitment to Xbox players, saying, “We let a lot of people down this week with the launch of the game, but we will continue to strive on – you have to, right? That’s what creativity is about.”

Redfall is only the beginning of Xbox’s future with Bethesda and Arkane. Although it marks a disappointing start, one subpar launch won’t be the end of Microsoft’s gaming endeavors. You can see today’s full interview with Phil Spencer on Redfall below.

About the author

Michael Cripe
Michael joined The Escapist team back in 2019 as a news reporter but has been covering games, movies, TV, and music since 2015. Most of his time is spent on the news team, but you’ll definitely see his name pop up in the opinion and interview sections from time to time. From the most obscure indie games to the industry’s AAA juggernauts, there’s nothing Michael isn’t interested in digging into. The vast majority of Michael’s work can be found at The Escapist, but his bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism has led him to other sites like OnlySP, Gameranx, and Kansas City’s The Pitch. When he’s not writing, Michael is probably playing Super Mario Sunshine, Dead Space, or The Binding of Isaac. If you’d like to connect and talk about the latest in pop-culture, you can follow Michael on Twitter (@MikeCripe), Instagram (mike_cripe), or LinkedIn if that’s your thing, I guess.