Rumor: Recent Xbox Exclusive Didn't Sell Well Despite Rave Reviews [UPDATED]

Update: Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg clarifies that Hi-Fi Rush is a “hit” for Xbox.

Jeff Grubb clarified that he “doesn’t know how Microsoft measures success” and he was just trying to say that Hi-Fi Rush didn’t make the money it expected.

The original story follows.

Despite widespread acclaim, Tango Gameworks’ Xbox exclusive Hi-Fi Rush hasn’t sold particularly well, according to a prominent industry insider. This rare granular insight into the commercial performance of Bethesda-published games runs counter to the fairly common belief that Hi-Fi Rush was a critical success.

The Tokyo-based developer of The Evil Within and Ghostwire: dropped its latest title out of the blue on January 25. The decision to shadow Hi-Fi Rush during the Xbox and Bethesda Developer_Direct broadcasts caused quite a stir, not least because games that receive rave reviews rarely appear out of thin air.

However, according to journalist Jeff Grubb, this aggressive publicity may have come at the cost of poor sales. During an April 20 podcast appearance, the prominent industry insider said Hi-Fi Rush “isn’t making the money it needs to make,” citing unnamed sources. Grubb speculates that this lackluster performance may be due to the fact that Hi-Fi Rush has been available on Xbox Game Pass since day one. While the launch itself was unexpected, the game’s immediate inclusion in the subscription service was a no-brainer since Tango Gameworks is owned by Microsoft subsidiary ZeniMax Media.

While this internal account doesn’t detail Hi-Fi Rush’s commercial performance, the account of lackluster sales does suggest that the game’s publisher may be reluctant to attempt a surprise release in the near future. For context, Bethesda’s idea was an allusion to Hi-Fi Rush.

Given the circumstances, the success (or failure) of Hi-Fi Rush won’t necessarily lead to any major changes at Xbox Game Studios. That’s partly because Microsoft takes a rather laissez-faire approach to managing developers, so its subsidiaries don’t really have a unified release policy that’s detailed enough to cover things like accidental releases. Provide a rulebook. Second, Xbox has already brought more surprises in GoldenEye 007 and Hi-Fi Rush, which are scheduled to launch in the second half of 2023.

Still, this newly surfaced internal account further underscores how Xbox Game Pass cannibalize game sales. Microsoft itself recently admitted as much in its back-and-forth with regulators over its pending Activision Blizzard acquisition. However, the company also insisted that the day-one launch of Xbox Game Pass wouldn’t necessarily lead to a drop in revenue for third-party publishers. In addition to various forms of monetary compensation, Microsoft previously argued that Xbox Game Pass also provides its partners with greater visibility, which could lead to longer-term sales.

Hi-Fi Rush is available now on PC and Xbox Series X/S.

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