Microsoft Game Studiosâ?? Phil Spencer discusses the â??tensionâ?? in choosing Ruffian over RTW

MS: Ruffian â??the right teamâ?? for Crackdown 2

Microsoft has defended its decision to hand over the development responsibilities of Crackdown 2 to Scottish startup studio Ruffian.

Back in December, Realtime Worlds – developers of the original Crackdown – had explicitly contested rumours that Ruffian was working on the lucrative IP.

“I very much doubt that Microsoft would harm an otherwise fruitful existing development relationship by gambling on funding Crackdown 2 with a startup on RTW’s doorstep, for obvious reasons,” said the studio’s Colin MacDonald.

A few months later, Microsoft announced that Ruffian was indeed developing the sequel to Crackdown.

Today in an interview with Develop, Microsoft Game Studios’ Phil Spencer reveals for the first time the reasons behind choosing Ruffian over any other studio.

“When Billy Thomson, the lead designer of the game, left Realtime Worlds there was an opportunity,” he said.

“But at the same time, I consider Dave Jones [CEO of Realtime Worlds and creative director of the first Crackdown] a good friend, and think APB is brilliant – and I didn’t want to undermine that studio.

“That meant that when Billy and Gary [Liddon, Ruffian co-founder] formed Ruffian, my first call was ‘Guys, I’m not going to sign this game right now. You need to establish yourself as a studio and I don’t want to be the cause of pain at Realtime Worlds.’

“Now, there will always be a bit of tension in that kind of situation, but I’ve since spoken to Dave and Ruffian have turned themselves into a fully-staffed self-sustained studio. And they have the same design and technical people that worked on Crackdown – with that team in place it meant the time was right for Crackdown 2.”

Spencer added that Microsoft carefully deliberated on which studio to give the Crackdown 2 contract, before electing Ruffian.

“We own the Crackdown IP and we could have just found another developer out there and done something called Crackdown 2 but as you and others know, it’s one of my favourite games of all time; so I personally wanted it to be special if we went ahead with a sequel.

“If there was anyone that was a stickler about commissioning a new one, it was me. I didn’t want to just turn the crank.

“It would have been easy to chase the money but, again, I wanted to make sure that anything we work on is correctly nurtured. We had to find the right team who really understood what game it is – and that was Billy and the team at Ruffian.”

Spencer added that Crackdown has been played by over 2 million unique users on Xbox Live.

Develop’s interview with Phil Spencer can be found here.

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