Microsoft Japan has cancelled Xbox MMORPG True Fantasy Live Online, citing quality and development progress concerns, although Microsoft US has since characterised the cancellation as a decision to streamline product portfolio rather than a reflection of the quality of the game. The game had been in development at Japanese Dark Cloud/Dark Chronicle developer Level-5.
A Microsoft US spokesperson highlighted "considerations" including "the game's progression to date and the remaining development time needed to complete such an ambitious project," while Microsoft Japan's press release said the game had been cancelled due to an inability to deliver a level of quality that would be acceptable to the consumer.
"The MMORPG genre, across all platforms, has become an incredibly crowded and competitive marketplace. In response, Microsoft Game Studios has decided to streamline its portfolio, making fewer bets in this genre," said the MS US rep - something also reflected in Microsoft Game Studios' previous decision to cancel PC MMORPG Mythica.
"We truly appreciate all the support True Fantasy Live Online has received from its fans and the games community," the rep told US website GameSpot.
With True Fantasy Live Online out of the way, Microsoft Japan's release list is left looking extremely short. Action shooter Phantom Dust, which was well received at the Tokyo Game Show in 2003 but didn't appear at E3 this year, and Xbox Live Arcade remain strong hopes, but neither is the sort of killer application needed to bring Xbox sales in Japan up to a decent standard. At the time of writing, the console continues to limp along selling only a few hundred units a week in the region.
Microsoft's Peter Moore recently revealed that the company has new strategies for the market due to be announced in the next six to nine months, but the situation is looking increasingly grim for this generation of Microsoft console hardware.
On a related note, Phantom Dust will not make an appearance in the US and Canada according to a statement issued by Microsoft this week, although the game will be available to Japanese gamers by the end of 2004. Microsoft has yet to comment on the game's future outside the US, Canada and Japan.