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A quick look back at some Microsoft games announced at E3 that were never released

A few days ago, The Entertainment Software Association made the sad but also expected announcement that there would never be another Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show. It's a quiet end to the trade show that, for a long time, was the single biggest annual event in the video and PC game industry.

Earlier this year, I wrote about my personal memories of attending E3 shows in Los Angeles (and, briefly, in Atlanta). It was great fun to walk on the exhibit floor and see all the huge displays that publishers and developers created to help promote their games.

However, an even bigger highlight for me was attending the E3 press conferences that were usually held before the show itself started. Microsoft had its share of E3 press conferences, and they frequently included surprise celebrity guests like Steven Spielberg, Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and, at the last Microsoft E3 press conference in 2019, Keanu Reeves promoting his appearance in Cyberpunk 2077.

Of course, Microsoft also used its E3 press conferences to show off some upcoming games. However, over the years, games that were first revealed at those events ended up not being released. Here's a quick look back at some of those games that we never got to play.

Untitled Black Tusk game - E3 2013

In November 2012, Microsoft announced it had formed a new game developer in Vancouver called Black Tusk Studios. At the time, Microsoft said the team was working on "Microsoft's next big entertainment franchise", an all-new original game that it hoped would be as successful as its Halo series.

During Microsoft's E3 2013 press event, the company showed off a teaser trailer for Black Tusk's game, which did not have a title. The trailer showed what looked like a New Year's Eve celebration in Singapore. The trailer cut to a guy repelling from a tall building and then taking out an unfortunate guard from behind. He then brought out what looked like a high-tech pistol.

The trailer was brief, but it did look like it had some potential. It definitely had some similarities to Ubisoft's Splinter Cell franchise.

However, that trailer was all we would ever see of this game. In 2014, Microsoft announced it had acquired the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games. In 2015, it revealed that Black Tusk Games would get a name change to The Coalition and that it would be in charge of making new Gears games for Microsoft, dashing the hopes of an all-new original game franchise from the studio.

Matter - E3 2012

Microsoft's E3 2012 press event showed off a teaser trailer for a new game from developer Blind Wink that was planned to be published by the company for the Xbox 360 console and its Kinect motion sensor accessory. It was called Matter. The trailer showed what looked like a Portal-like sci-fi puzzle experience, with a silver ball moving through ever-changing levels and being attacked by square-shaped enemies.

The other thing that got some people's attention was that Matter had some kind of involvement from film director Gore Verbinski, best known as the director of The Ring and the first three films in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

However, that brief trailer reveal of Matter was all we ever saw of the game. In March 2013, less than a year after it was revealed, Microsoft confirmed that Matter was canceled. There was no official explanation of what happened with the game's development.

Scalebound - E3 2014

Microsoft's E3 2014 press event included the debut trailer for Scalebound, a highly ambitious fantasy action RPG from Japan-based developer PlatinumGames. Unlike the other two games on this list, Microsoft showed off playable versions of Scalebound at other game events after it debuted at E3.

This was one of Microsoft's most anticipated games for a while, especially since it promised gamers that you could control dragons. However, delays in the game's development started creeping up, and in January 2017, Microsoft announced it had decided to cancel Scalebound.

There have been rumors of some bad blood between Microsoft and PlatinumGames over the development of Scalebound that eventually led to its cancelation. In 2022, the studio's president, Atsushi Inaba, said he would like to revive the game development with Microsoft. However, that seems to be an unlikely prospect.

Once again, we said farewell to E3. It brought lots of joy to gamers and also showed off a few games that never made it to our consoles and PCs. It's truly the end of an era in gaming.

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