Microsoft has today confirmed that a number of its XSN Sports franchises will be "rested" this season so that they might return much-improved in 2005. The decision has been taken following feedback from gamers, which, although positive about the XSN Sports service, suggested that the games themselves weren't really on a par with some of their competitors.
"Microsoft Game Studios (MGS) holds our customers in the highest regard and they are always top of mind when product decisions are made. We would never do anything to jeopardize the reputation of MGS with gamers. After analyzing market conditions and customer feedback we're focused on closing the quality gap between our sports line-up and that of our competitors. Therefore we will not be shipping new versions of our sports games this Autumn. MGS will continue to build on the goal of developing extraordinarily creative, epic-scale, platform-driving games for Xbox and Windows. Sports will just not be part of our MGS publishing plans this Autumn," reads a statement from Microsoft's UK office.
"Xbox as a platform is committed long term to sports gaming and we'll continue to work with our publisher partners to ensure a steady flow of sports games are available on both Xbox and Xbox Live. Current owners of XSN Sports titles will have their titles supported via XSNsports.com, roster updates and web downloads on Xbox Live."
Specifically, today's announcement pertains to the NFL Fever, NBA Inside Drive, and NHL Rivals franchises. Other XSN Sports brands, such as Rallisport Challenge, Links, Top Spin, and Amped, are not considered by Microsoft to be titles that will necessarily be updated on a yearly basis and are not affected. Rallisport Challenge 2, which is scheduled for release next month, is currently the only XSN Sports game scheduled for release in 2004.