Microsoft torches multiple Xbox studios then tells you to 'feel the burn' with the most tone-deaf controller launch of all time

 Picard meme covering his face over the reveal of a new controller.
Picard meme covering his face over the reveal of a new controller.

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has closed 3 studios in totality: Arkane Austin, Alpha Dog Games, and Tango Gameworks.

  • They've folded Roundhouse Studios into ZeniMax Online Studios.

  • Hours after the news broke, Microsoft revealed a new fiery themed controller with the tagline "feel the burn" before changing it.

It's a common sentiment, the frustration with Microsoft's marketing team, or rather, the lack thereof. The perception is that the level of advertising for games at Xbox is consistently low. Yet, there's one constant: the arrival of shiny new controllers, now at the worst of times.

Starting with the tagline, "Feel the burn," literally hours after Microsoft set three studios aflame, they announced a new Fire Vapor Special Edition Controller. Who's running the Microsoft marketing team? Beavis and Butt-head? Like, what are you doing, Microsoft?

At least, for now, they changed it to something more appropriate with "Introducing the Fire Vapor Special Edition Controller," but the point still stands. Now is not the time to launch another rebranded controller. We get that this is one of the few accessories Microsoft is willing to sell in mass, but I think your shareholders would have forgiven you had you waited at least a day. Announcing any controller, much less a "fiery" controller, on the day you shut down multiple beloved studios is astoundingly tone-deaf.

Multiple people are getting their shots in on this debacle, and rightfully so. Just a couple I'd like to highlight:

Tom Warren from The Verge being much more professional than Microsoft deserves at the moment.

Even with the headline change, "Feel the power of fire in your hands and hold on to the heat," is still a thoughtless product description given today's events. I have no idea what possessed Microsoft to push this product launch forward. Perhaps the controller division was next on the layoff list? Who knows.

What is clear is that Microsoft is going to have a lot of explaining to do in the days and weeks leading up to their press conference on June 9. The tides are turning against them, and the wind behind their sails is blowing in the opposite direction. It's challenging to get excited about any project when successful games such as Hi-Fi Rush can't guarantee the survival of the studios behind them. If that doesn't, what does?

What should we cheer for when we feel it's the bad guy pulling the strings behind the scenes? For instance, Ninja Theory could drop Hellblade 2 this month and still be closed because of some metric Microsoft doesn't care to disclose to everyone else. Doesn't that sound insane to you?

We're all at a total and complete loss for words right now—not just the folks at Windows Central but everyone in the gaming community. Words fail me as I try to express the range of emotions I'm experiencing - seething rage and crushing, child-like disappointment. This hurts, and it aches even more when you see a company so completely out of touch across departments twist the knife that's still deeply embedded in the soul.

Wait, one fricking day!