Crackdown 3 Reportedly On Its Last Delay, Cloud-Powered Multiplayer “Too Big” for XB1

Nathan Birch

The development of Crackdown 3 has been a bit of a mess -- even a relatively casual observer could see that. When the game was first unveiled back in 2014, Microsoft promised a fully-destructible multiplayer playground powered by cutting-edge cloud tech developed by series creator David Jones and his company Cloudgine. Unfortunately, aside from a brief “pre-alpha” demo shown at Gamescom 2015, Crackdown 3’s multiplayer has been almost-entirely MIA. What’s with the secrecy?

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Well, a new insider report from Eurogamer sheds some light on the development of Crackdown 3, and things don’t too sound promising for the much-ballyhooed multiplayer. According to David Jones, he was only ever a consultant brought on to help with the game’s cloud tech, and was never actively involved in multiplayer development. The demo he showed at Gamescom was just a proof-of-concept. So, who is making multiplayer? That’s somewhat unclear, although Jones implies it’s Sumo Digital, who, up until now, has only been officially attached to the single-player component of Crackdown 3.

According to anonymous sources Eurogamer spoke to, the whole cloud-powered 100-percent-destructible multiplayer Microsoft and Jones pitched was simply “too big” to work on the Xbox One. That said, as of mid-2017, there was at least some form of multiplayer in place. The mode, entitled “Wrecking Zone,” supported 10 players, and the goal was to destroy your enemy’s tower before the time ran out (matches were around 20 to 30 minutes long). It’s unclear if this version of multiplayer made any use of cloud tech. Jones says that ball’s in Microsoft’s court now…

"There was a bunch of technology that Cloudgine developed for Crackdown. How that gets used, I don't know. Ultimately that's Microsoft's decision. But that depends on cost - there are many factors on that. I was really just there to show the potential for the cloud, and then Microsoft would keep working on that depending on how they wanted to surface that."

Crackdown 3 was recently delayed yet again, this time to February 2019. It was Xbox boss Phil Spencer who made that call after playing an uninspired build.

“I started playing the game and it didn't feel right to me. I felt like the game needed more time to reach what I think of as Crackdown, which I think should be a strong Xbox franchise."

Spencer strikes a hopeful tone, as he always does, but word is the makers of Crackdown 3 now face a ticking clock. Per UK development sources, Crackdown 3 was very nearly cancelled sometime within the past 12 months, and this final delay is the last one Microsoft will allow. Either the game will come out, or it will finally be put out of its misery.

Somehow, someway, I hope Microsoft manages to salvage Crackdown 3, as I really enjoyed past games in the series. Unfortunately, the picture Eurogamer paints doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. What do you think? Is Crackdown 3 actually happening?

Crackdown 3 (hopefully) comes out on PC and Xbox One on February 22, 2019.

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