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Opinion: What Does Scalebound's Cancellation Mean for Platinum Games?

Scalebound's cancellation is very troubling for a studio determined to live and die by its original IPs.

Opinion by Nadia Oxford, .

Sad news today: Platinum's dragon-riding adventure game, Scalebound, is dead. Done. Finished. Colder than Smaug's corpse under the waves of Lake-town.

The cancellation is very unfortunate, but it's also not a big surprise. We've seen neither scale nor bristle of Scalebound since its brief appearance at E3 2016, where our own Kat Bailey noticed the game seemingly had a long way to go.

A New Trailer Reveals NieR Automata's Combat as Purely Platinum

The sequel to Square-Enix's 2010 cult RPG hit is already looking great.

She wasn't the only one; confusion and snark peppered Twitter during Scalebound's E3 presentation. Observers were put-off by the messy boss fight the gameplay trailer offered, and they had few good things to say about the game's silver-haired protagonist and his inexplicable Beats by Dre headphones (or whatever the kids wear these days).

Now that the almighty Shenron has taken Scalebound into His divine bosom, Platinum is in a worrying predicament. The Xbox One exclusive was a high-profile release for the developer, which is the last of a dying breed – a veteran medium-sized studio bobbing along in a market dominated by triple-A companies and plucky indies.

The news is especially dark if you recall what Platinum producer Atsushi Inaba told Kat when they met up last summer. Namely, that Platinum "doesn't really have a future unless we develop our own original IPs [intellectual properties]." Scalebound was supposed to be one of those original IPs, and Platinum has been sitting on the chance to bring it to life for a long time. Its other attempt at birthing another original IP, Wonderful 101, actually happened, but the game had little staying power.

How to Euthanize Your Dragon

Platinum's survival has largely depended on making games with other companies' properties. Some of these games, though stylish, aren't very good. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan is one example. The Legend of Korra is another. Other Platinum commissions like Star Fox Zero and the Bayonetta games feature highly-respected franchises and characters, but still don't belong to Platinum.

Platinum has another problem: Even the recent games it's made with IPs from Sega and Nintendo haven't exactly burned up the sales charts. The outstanding Bayonetta 2 had weak numbers compared to the first game, though Nintendo probably didn't expect amazing sales from an adult-oriented title on the Wii U. Star Fox Zero's flop is another matter. Nintendo put a lot of effort into the game's marketing, but few people wound up biting. Star Fox Zero's middling popularity looks bad on Nintendo, Platinum, and the fanbase that clamored for a new game for years, but out of the three, Platinum is least-equipped to absorb that kind of fallout.

There's some hope. Despite some missteps, Platinum has proven its talent several times over. It'd be foolish for publishers to turn their back on the studio – though as well all know for varying reasons, the games industry is occasionally a foolish place.

There's no point in despairing, though. NieR: Automata is almost here. Heck, maybe we'll receive good news about the future of Platinum at Nintendo's Switch event later this week.

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Comments 24

  • Avatar for ldave #1 ldave 2 months ago
    Sad news, and I hope Kamiya will get better, I read somewhere that he is not very well, mentally and physically stressed out by this long development :(
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #2 nadiaoxford 2 months ago
    @ldave Ugh. I really hope there's a way to save this game in some capacity. Wishful thinking, I guess.
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  • Avatar for ChairmanYang #3 ChairmanYang 2 months ago
    Given that Nintendo Switch third-party support will almost certainly underwhelm, this might be a good opportunity for both Nintendo and Platinum. Provided they get the good Platinum teams, not the crappy ones.
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  • Avatar for ldave #4 ldave 2 months ago
    @nadiaoxford maybe Good Guy Nintendo will save this game somehow, dragons would be look awesome on the Switch :)
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  • Avatar for swamped #5 swamped 2 months ago
    I would love to see a Nintendo-Platinum partnership.
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  • Avatar for photoboy #6 photoboy 2 months ago
    I remember Scalebound looked iffy in the E3 reveal, the frame rate in particular seemed low and uneven. If it hadn't been a Platinum game I'd had dismissed it entirely.

    Hopefully this means Platinum can get on with Transformers Devastation 2 rather than the end of the studio.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #7 NiceGuyNeon 2 months ago
    I can't wait until Nintendo swoops in, saves the property and then everyone blames Nintendo for making it a Switch exclusive and make bold claims about how they can't believe Nintendo would do this to them! That'd be my ideal scenario. Yes! Perfect!

    I am saddened by the news. Platinum is one of the few teams that's earned my unconditional trust in the gaming world along with Nintendo, CD Projekt Red, Atlus, Blizzard, Valve and maybe even From Software. If a game is announced by them, I look at it eagerly and most likely buy it.

    Bayonetta I played through twice. MadWorld twice. Vanquish three times. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance three times. Bayonetta 2 three times. Their games have such polish and creativity that it's easy to suspend my disbelief for them. And the best thing is the fluidity of motion their games have. Not so much MadWorld since that feels like a bulkier beat-em-up, but the other games are a joy to just control Bayonetta/Sam/Raiden.

    I never played the original Nier (I have a copy I recently bought sitting around though) but I don't even really care if I get to it. I will play Nier Automata after seeing some of the character's movements across a level though. It has that Platinum look to it.

    I still have Anarchy Reigns and The Wonderful 101 to play as well. I've got no interest in their licensed stuff (outside of MGR and Nier) but I know Transformers, TMNT and Korra are games to basically keep the lights on. I even bought Korra in case it helps them out because I've seen them as the best of the best.

    I want them to have these IPs and succeed because they might be a rarity, but they're also the best at what they do. I've never played action games so thrilling and polished before. Maybe Scalebound wasn't panning out properly. Maybe it's best they don't waste any more time on a subpar effort. Maybe they come roaring back from this. Who knows, but I want more Platinum and I want it as often as Platinum can produce these games. If it won't be Scalebound (so much for using this Xbox/Windows cross-buy thing) then it can be Nier.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #8 cldmstrsn 2 months ago
    I am really hoping they came up with everything and Microsoft was just looking to snatch up an exclusive. If that is the case I'm really hoping Sony picks it up as im sure they could work better with Platinum but Nintendo also works because of their relationship when they made Bayonetta 2 either way I would hate to see this game die.

    It has a lot of potential and given some more time to iron things out and who knows with a new shot of vigor it could be something really special.Edited January 2017 by cldmstrsn
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #9 SatelliteOfLove 2 months ago
    People 2B buying Nier Automata

    @NiceGuyNeon

    That first sentence is frighteningly apt "tis not prophecie, tis historie" prognostication there.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #10 Roto13 2 months ago
    I'm fairly certain Microsoft, not Platinum, owns the rights to the Scalebound IP. If that quote about making their own original IP means IP they own (and likely end up funding themselves) then Scalebound was never likely to be that. If it means just new IP, regardless of who ends up holding the rights to it, they've done that a bunch of times already. (Mad World/Anarchy Reigns, Bayonetta, Vanquish, The Wonderful 101, Infinite Space kind of.)

    But if Platinum goes bankrupt or something because Microsoft doesn't want anyone playing anything that's actually different or interesting on their Xbox, I'm going to break all the Windows.
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  • Avatar for NotCarolKaye #11 NotCarolKaye 2 months ago
    @nadiaoxford
    Well, Psychonauts started out as a Microsoft funded/published Xbox exclusive. Then MS cancelled it, is got picked up by another publisher and finished as a multiplat. Something like that could happen with Scalebound.

    It's possible. Maybe not likely, but.......
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #12 UnskippableCutscene 2 months ago
    I actually liked the characters, but they presented this weird raid-boss style online mechanic after a year and a half of everyone expecting a single-player campaign. You really can't have a distinctive character if he's going to juke a kaijuu with a dozen other internet dragon-riders.
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  • Avatar for jay-ban #13 jay-ban 2 months ago
    RIP Scalebound, one of the few XBO exclusives I was looking forward to. On a related note, I think the continued struggle of even the most veteran Japanese developers to create wide-scope high-budget games really warrants some journalistic investigation, in my opinion.
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  • Avatar for SEGASHIRO #14 SEGASHIRO 2 months ago
    I was looking forward to Scalebound. That sucks. I've loved everyone Platinum Game I've touched. I need more Vanquish in my life.
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  • Avatar for Soapfish #15 Soapfish 2 months ago
    The Nier demo is really slick. Hopefully that game does well for them.
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  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #16 ojinnvoltz 2 months ago
    They'll be okay. They've got Nier: Automata and a pair of Cygames projects. And who knows, maybe they've got smaller projects already in the pipeline.Edited 2 times. Last edited January 2017 by ojinnvoltz
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #17 mattcom26 2 months ago
    Deleted January 2017 by mattcom26
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  • Avatar for JinjoHayabusa #18 JinjoHayabusa 2 months ago
    Damn. Sad news, but I've never really understood how this game was supposed to be fun. I trusted Platinum and Kamiya, in my opinion the best studio and best individual talent in the business, but I couldn't really picture in my head how this game would work. Maybe Kamiya's slipping? Wonderful 101 had its moments, but it was too unwieldy for me to really love.
    The original Bayonetta and Okami will remain in my top five favorite games of all time, though.
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  • Avatar for Darkarm66 #19 Darkarm66 2 months ago
    On the plus side, since Scalebound was the only game I was waiting for, Xbox One can fulfill the role of being traded in for a Switch preorder.
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  • Avatar for JinjoHayabusa #20 JinjoHayabusa 2 months ago
    @Darkarm66 Hmm, that's actually a good idea. Scalebound was the only X1 exclusive I was waiting for.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #21 VotesForCows 2 months ago
    @NiceGuyNeon I'm a massive Platinum fan too. You should definitely play Anarchy Reigns if you have it. Its pretty uneven, but the combat is fantastic, as you'd expect. Well worth a few hours of your time.
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  • Avatar for mobichan #22 mobichan 2 months ago
    While I am a fan of Kamiya, I can't say Platinum as a whole commands my attention all that much. But as someone who recently went through a publisher pulling funding, I can certainly sympathize. I would guess (as many other have) that MS own the IP rights, so reusing the assets is probably out of the question. But at least Platinum have a good history with Nintendo, so maybe the Switch is a good home for their future projects. Let's just hope they get to make original content (new IP's) before the industry dooms them.

    As for Scalebound, the demo really turned me off. It was like the parts of Monster Hunter, MMO's and DMC that I don't actually like crammed into a single game. I go to Kamiya for Devil May Cry/Bayonetta/Viewtiful Joe style action games. Honestly, i would love to see another Godhand or something in that vein.Edited January 2017 by mobichan
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  • Avatar for chiptoon #23 chiptoon 2 months ago
    There goes my best reason to by an Xbox :(
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  • Avatar for docexe #24 docexe 2 months ago
    Sad news, but not entirely unexpected considering we hadn’t heard anything about the game in a while.

    It also doesn’t help that, while Platinum is actually a talented developer that has amassed a cult following, even their best work is not exactly a multi-million seller. Their games are just too “unconventional” compared to what the “mainstream” gamers prefer these days. I suppose that’s also what prompted Microsoft to cancel the game after the rocky development period.

    I also wonder how much of a strain the cancellation of Scalebound (especially after such a lengthy development) will put on the finances of the studio. I presume we will continue to see more licensed and contracted work from Platinum. That doesn’t exactly showcase the best of their talents, but at least helps to pay the bills. I just hope they eventually rebound and produce more original work.

    Looking at the bright side, at least there is Nier: Automata, of which I have only heard good things. I doubt it will set the charts on fire (especially with the franchise being so obscure), but getting some critical and fan acclaim after such a rocky period will still help.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #25 NiceGuyNeon 2 months ago
    @VotesForCows yeah I have a copy of it. I'll bust it out soon.
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