Phil Spencer, answering question on Twitter, is saying that the HD remaster of Phantom Dust is on schedule to be released prior to E3 later this year.
For a game that few are familiar with, Phantom Dust has a complicated history. The unique third-person action game blends in strategic combat and a collectible card system, gameplay that’s understandably attractive in today’s free-to-play and microtransaction hungry marketplace. Despite Phantom Dust‘s positive but not exemplary launch in 2004, Microsoft went ahead with a full remake in 2015. That project was ultimately canceled, but hope was not lost; a Phantom Dust HD remaster has since been announced — and it may be arriving soon.
Phil Spencer, Xbox head at Microsoft, took to Twitter to answer some community questions. One fan asked very specifically about Phantom Dust‘s HD remaster, curious to see if there was any news to share, and Phil Spencer replied saying Phantom Dust, “Should ship before E3.” For a game that’s had virtually no marketing push, Phantom Dust‘s looming launch is an unexpected revelation.
That’s not to say that there will be a marketing push for Phantom Dust at all. Spencer’s affinity for Phantom Dust and Microsoft’s guilt regarding the reboot’s cancellation appear to be the only driving factor’s for the HD remaster’s release. The likelihood of Phantom Dust‘s HD remaster recuperating Microsoft’s investment in the title seems low, especially with the game shipping pre-E3 as opposed to post. Microsoft may just slip Phantom Dust out the door and see if it can survive on its own.
@HollowSchematic Should ship before E3.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) January 29, 2017
For those looking for more background on Phantom Dust, here’s the story regarding the game’s reboot. In 2014 Microsoft began evaluating reboots for several of its older properties, including Battletoads and Perfect Dark. Darkside Studios, an independent studio which had up until then been a supportive developer for some of Microsoft’s larger projects, was approved for a Phantom Dust reboot. The company was approved to create a multiplayer-only version of the game for $5 million.
Shortly after starting development, Microsoft told Darkside to make a single-player campaign as well – with no increase in funding – and within six months, Microsoft announced Phantom Dust at E3. Darkside was not involved in the announcement or the trailer shown. In fact, the trailer featured a strikingly different art style compared to what Darkside was creating, forcing them to rework Phantom Dust to meet the new public expectations. Following six months of shifting expectations and the departure of a key Microsoft liaison, Microsoft decided to cancel Phantom Dust instead of granting Darkside additional funding. The lack of funds led to the immediate forced closure of Darkside.
Those who have been following the recent cancellation of Platinum Games’ Scalebound will likely see this as a familiar tale. Microsoft’s ever shifting expectations from their studios, poor communication, and ultimately their willingness to shut down a project rather than support it to completion are now well established.
Phantom Dust‘s HD remaster was announced at E3 2016, as a Play Anywhere PC/Xbox One title .It’s unclear whether development of this Phantom Dust began shortly after the last version’s cancellation. Either way, the remaster was reportedly near completion even when it was announced. Hopefully we’ll see Phantom Dust out in the next few months, but Spencer acknowledges that he doesn’t officially get to make the call on the game’s release date.