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Microsoft saved Titanfall from cancellation, claims report

Also: Sony passed up opportunity to share info about PS4

Titanfall wouldn't have been released at all without some last-minute investment from Microsoft, according to a fascinating, book-length report on the game's tumultuous development.

Composed by Spike TV's Geoff Keighley, the Final Hours of Titanfall is a pretty startling read that includes concept artworks and videos of pre-release versions of the game, in addition to a breakdown of Respawn's almost-ruinous legal clash with Activision. It'll set you back £1.69, and is available on iTunes, Steam and the Windows Store.

Among other things, the e-book covers early ideas for Respawn's first game - "Batman with guns" and a Deus Ex-style cyber thriller are two of the standouts - and a prototype that would have put the player in charge of four separate classes - Titans, Pilots, a four-man infantry squad and an undivulged class that may be the basis for a future Respawn game.

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It describes how Respawn met with Microsoft to discuss the next generation of Xbox - then code-named "Durango" - in January 2012. Programmer Jon Shiring apparently reached out to Sony for information about PS4 at the time, but was rebuffed. "I can't emphasise this enough," he's said to have told a contact at Sony. "Decisions are being made here about our game and we really need to know about the next PlayStation." Instead, Sony suggested that the developer put together a PS Vita version of its first game.

The legal battle with Activision - sparked by claims of royalties owed to ex-Infinity Ward heads Vince Zampella and Jason West - was a continual drain. According to several staffers, West grew increasingly detached from the project and the rest of the team - he eventually left Respawn in May 2012. Respawn settled its lawsuit with Activision out of court in June 2012, but was obliged to ask publisher EA for more funds in the fall. The project had become "a massive economic problem", according to EA's then-CEO John Riccitiello.

Titanfall was planned as a timed Xbox and PC exclusive, due to a shortage of manpower and resources: according to Zampella, the console version would have been Xbox-only for 13 months. EA had other ideas, however. Here's the relevant excerpt:

In order to make the economics work and keep Titanfall alive, EA needed a first-party publisher to invest. Xbox was willing to step up and save the project, which turned out to be a wise bet. Xbox now has one of the biggest games of the year as an exclusive to its platforms, although it lays no claim to any sequels.

Download the full thing for more. It's well worth the asking price.

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