Xbox Shut Down Studios: Mike Ybarra Defends Phil Spencer

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The closure of four Bethesda studios by Xbox has ignited intense controversy in recent days. Mike Ybarra defends Phil Spencer, resulting in widespread outrage from the gaming community.

Xbox Shut Down Studios: Mike Ybarra Defends Phil Spencer

Former Blizzard President Mike Ybarra recently tweeted about the situation surrounding Xbox’s decision to shut down Bethesda’s studio. Ybarra urged fans to temper their criticism of Xbox’s Head, Phil Spencer. He emphasized that just like everyone else, Spencer is equally impacted by the decision to shutter Akrane Austin, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog Games, and Roundhouse Studios. Affirming Spencer’s compassionate nature, he also underscored the Head of Xbox’s dedication to the creative process and the well-being of developers:

Xbox’s decision to close four Bethesda studios, Akrane Austin, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog Games, and Roundhouse Studios, as part of consolidation efforts, has sparked intense discussions within the gaming community. Some members of Arkane Austin will find new roles within other Bethesda studios. Roundhouse Games is set to integrate with ZeniMax Online Studios. However, the outlook is less optimistic for the remaining laid-off employees. Alpha Dog Studios and Tango Gameworks will cease operations entirely, leaving these employees facing an uncertain future.

Mike Ybarra Defends Phil Spencer: The Community Finds It Embarrassing

Ybarra’s intervention takes place amid a challenging period for game developers. In 2023, thousands of employees were laid off. The trend has then continued into 2024, with the numbers already surpassing last year’s figures before the end of the second quarter.

Yet, not all voices echo Ybarra’s sentiment. Players and influencers aren’t the only ones responding negatively to Mike Ybarra’s tweet. Alanah Pearce of Sony Santa Monica argued that executives can weather some criticism. She emphasized that the primary focus should be on the employees who are facing job losses: “Mike, I have a lot of fondness for Phil and don’t doubt he’s incredibly bummed about this, but CEOs can handle some “shots” amidst people having their lives destroyed. Your sympathetic posts should solely be directed at those who’ve lost their jobs.”

Mike Ybarra further clarified that Spencer is not “the robot celebrating in the glory” of this situation. He suggested that given Alannah Pearce’s involvement in the industry, she should grasp the intricacies at play. Nevertheless, many Twitter users couldn’t help but express sarcasm towards Ybarra’s statement. Content Creator MJ remarked:

“Phil’s feelings shouldn’t be taken into account when he’s still the boss making a boss’s income when tons of developers just lost their jobs.”

Another Twitter user, BGM_Final Knight, expressed:

“I just can’t stop laughing about worrying about Phil’s feelings and how heartbroken he must be…”

Dillon Rogers, a developer at New Blood Interactive, quote-tweeted Ybarra, saying, “Hi. Can you at least let us grieve for a single day for our colleagues losing their careers and livelihoods before ‘won’t someone please think of my millionaire buddies’ posting.” 

Calliope Ryder, Lead Producer of Tales of the Shire, wrote: “Won’t someone think of the poor CEO? I’ve only had a tiny handful of interactions with Phil, and they’ve been very pleasant, but holy s**t. You can’t compare his hurt to the hurt of game devs laid off in this job market. People are struggling to feed their families, Mike.”

The gaming community unanimously acknowledges that, regardless of Phil Spencer’s feelings, the closures of Akrane Austin, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog Games, and Roundhouse Studios inevitably lead to job losses for numerous individuals. While Spencer remains in his position, thousands now face the repercussions of Xbox’s decision. Despite Ybarra’s claim that he won’t stay silent in the face of personal attacks against his friends, the community remains indifferent to the friendships of two wealthy executives. Their primary concern remains with the thousands facing unemployment, without even a safety net to rely on.

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