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Microsoft's Phantom Dust re-release announcement was a surprise — even to Phil Spencer

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After the troubled development history of Microsoft's first stab at a Phantom Dust reboot, it seemed like it'd be a while before we heard the name Phantom Dust from Microsoft again. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, Microsoft Studios head of first-party publishing Shannon Loftis surprised fans of the cult classic when she announced the original game is being re-released in 2017 with improved online functionality for Xbox One and Windows PC.

In an interview with Polygon's Arthur Gies, Xbox head Phil Spencer revealed that news of the re-released version of the action-card game was not just a surprise for fans — it was also a surprise for him.

Spencer: [excitedly] Did you see? Did you see [Phantom Dust]?

Polygon: I did see! Nick was very excited.

Spencer: I sent out a tweet three weeks ago where I said "[Microsoft Studios head of first-party publishing] Shannon Loftis just won E3." And that was when she showed me. She kept that thing hidden from me, and then she sprung it on me."

Polygon: How?

Spencer: Shannon runs a big part of our organization, so she has money that she just squirreled away to go do something. She brings in this video — I don't actually know what video they released, I'm sure it wasn't what they showed me — but it said "reimagined for Xbox Live." She went through all of the things, and it said "early 2017," I think, and then it said "Phantom Dust." So I asked "What is this?" And she said, "It's Phantom Dust. It's happening." And I said "What are you talking about, it's happening?!" And she said that it was almost done.

Polygon: She made an honest man out of you, Phil.

Back in March, Spencer told Polygon that there was no news to report on the status of Phantom Dust, saying that he "felt bad" that Microsoft wasn't delivering on what it announced at E3 in 2014. In that same conversation, Spencer added, "Shannon Loftis and I talk often about what we want to do with Phantom Dust, so it is a thing from the conversations. She has ideas that she's working on that she won't show me yet."

Looks like that mystery is solved.

For more on Microsoft's 2017 Phantom Dust re-release, watch our Phantom Dust interview with Loftis detailing what's changing, the pricing, and what this release means for the future of the Phantom Dust franchise.