The acclaimed rhythm-action game came seemingly out of nowhere.
Last week, immediately following an Xbox Developer Direct presentation, Bethesda and Tango Gameworks suddenly released their newest joint project, Hi-Fi Rush. The game, which is a stylish combination of character action combat and rhythm gameplay, came completely out of nowhere, with no announcements, teases, or advertising prior to release. Nevertheless, the game became an overnight smash hit, with a critical Metacritic rating at a comfortable 90 at the time of writing.
In an interview with IGN, the game’s director, John Johanas, explained Xbox, Bethesda, and Tango’s decision to shadow drop the game. According to Johanas, the internal team wasn’t sure how well the game would pick up steam with a prolonged ad campaign, but during development, it managed to build an impressive reputation amongst company staff through word of mouth alone. As such, they decided to take a gamble with a sudden drop on Xbox and Game Pass, banking on the same reaction from the public.
“If you’re going to ask someone to purchase something in a shadow drop, you probably get a lot of skepticism, but the fact that Game Pass exists allows people to basically almost, what you would say is a demo theoretically,” Johanas said. “But it’s not a demo, it’s the full game. They can just play in and they can almost naturally talk about the game, talk to their friends, tell them how cool it is. That’s what we were kind of hoping for because internally, we knew it was something special.
Hi-Fi Rush was a surprising viral hit internally at Bethesda before it launched, which helped fuel Tango's decision to shadow drop it. https://t.co/2uEb818vKc pic.twitter.com/6eqIWGYXMC
— IGN (@IGN) January 31, 2023
“That’s how it actually built up within Bethesda…Some people had played it and they spoke about it to their other [colleagues]. They’re like, ‘Did you see that game that they’re making there?’ There’s this weird sort of viral positivity to this just playing this game, and Game Pass just felt like an excellent opportunity to let something…lose that skepticism immediately by just playing it and people just talking about it.”
Hi-Fi Rush is available now on Xbox Series X/S, PC via Steam, and both Xbox and PC Game Pass.