Xbox: Phil Spencer explained the future of the platform, including news and confirmations

Xbox: Phil Spencer explained the future of the platform, including news and confirmations

The upcoming podcast in which Spencer and his team explain the future of Xbox revealed several confirmations and some interesting news.

Yesterday the highly anticipated visual podcast was finally published in which Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Gaming, pointed out the future of Xbox as a platform, clarifying some points raised by rumors spread in recent weeks by various internal sources, some very accurate, others definitely exaggerated, such as Those who also wanted Starfield, Indiana Jones and the Ancient Circle to be released soon on PS5. It was a solemn event, also attended by Sarah Bond and Matt Botti, respectively, head of Xbox and head of Xbox Game Studios, top executives of Microsoft's video game business. But what was actually said? We are trying to Analyze the words of Spencer and his team to try to understand how the Xbox platform will transform in the near future.

Four games on PS5, Nintendo Switch, and increasingly cross-platform Xbox

Spencer did not announce revolutions, only confirmations
Spencer did not announce revolutions, only confirmations

In fact, it's hard to see any big news in Spencer's speech, when there have been so many confirmations. The strategy he's built since he took the reins of Xbox has been largely confirmed, and he practically immediately spoke of desire Bringing the green ecosystem to as many screens as possible. We can define it as a kind of hardware cognitivism that is built step by step to emerge from the console war and become a pure publisher, so as to reach “players where they want to play,” to use another formula that is very dear to it.

Xbox is already a cross-platform publisher, as Spencer himself explained. In fact, it's one of the biggest publishers on PlayStation and Switch, given the very large number of Xbox games already put out by Sony and Nintendo: “If you look at the addition of Activision, Blizzard and Zenimax, we're already one of the biggest publishers” of games on PlayStation, we're one of the biggest publishers on Nintendo Switch, especially when you put Minecraft into the equation, and now we're one of the biggest publishers on mobile platforms as well. Therefore, the announcement of four new games that will arrive on Nintendo Switch and PS5 is not a Copernican revolution, but just another step in the direction that Xbox has followed for years.

It does not change the truth one iota Not all Xbox exclusives will also make it to competing consoles (This is less and less, let's face it), because it is natural for Microsoft to proceed with caution, so as not to abandon its business and destroy its community. The fact remains that the model of blanket “exclusives” increasingly looks like a thing of the past. Xbox, like all other publishers, needs as wide an audience as possible to reduce risks and improve its products. In an era where selling consoles was the main goal, it made sense to do everything to provide public content that they couldn't find anywhere else. However, today, when the sector has divided into thousands of streams (it is no coincidence that during podcast experiments such as Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite, which are defined as “larger than the platforms themselves”), being too closed can be fatal, because The market is becoming increasingly less friendly towards the traditional modelis now unable to intercept all types of current video game consumers.

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Xbox aims to expand the audience for its live services
Xbox aims to expand the audience for its live services

It's likely that only Nintendo will continue to follow through with their new console, thanks to Nintendo Switch sales. But even there: if a slowdown occurs in the future (it's not certain that a potential Nintendo Switch 2 will be as successful as the first), there will likely be some second thoughts (like forgetting the time Nintendo tried to enter the market). Mobile world due to disastrous Wii U sales?). From this point of view, Spencer was very clear during the podcast: The choices made are aimed at strengthening Xbox's business, because only a healthy Xbox can ensure its continued existence. To be healthy, you have to sell Xbox, whether it's games or subscriptions.

But we did say that there will be four Xbox games that will arrive on PS5 and Nintendo Switch. Spencer did not mention names, but there is talk about it Sea of ​​Thieves, Grounded, Hi-Fi Rush! And repentanceTwo “small” games, and two games that focus on “community,” as they describe it. However, it is fair to specify that these are still rumours, so we are waiting for an official confirmation to give our opinion on the merits.

No need to back away from Game Pass, Activision Blizzard games are here

The Game Pass strategy remains unchanged
The Game Pass strategy remains unchanged

Why worry? Game Pass There's little to reportSince no big news came out of Spencer's letter. We learned that the service currently includes 34 million subscribers (the previous official figure dating back to 2022 spoke of 25 million subscribers) and that it will soon begin hosting Activision Blizzard games, starting with Diablo IV, which will arrive in March. February 28, 2024, as announced by Sarah Bond. These additions to the catalog in particular are likely to result in a new influx of subscribers, since we're talking about names with massive general appeal. It doesn't take much imagination to predict that other titles from the Call of Duty company will also come to Game Pass over the course of the year. It just remains to see which ones and the timing of the additions.

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For the rest it was Rumors that Xbox will no longer release games directly on the service have been dismissed, postponing its release to recover slightly from sales. Instead, Spencer confirmed this strategy, which therefore remained unchanged. In this sense, Game Pass was one of the less interesting sections of the discussion, although we imagine subscribers are happy to know that the current formula will not be touched, at least in the short and medium term.

The devices are not abandoned

Xbox isn't going anywhere
Xbox isn't going anywhere

As for the hardware side, Spencer explained that hardware will become less important, and not just for Xbox. After all, that's what he's been repeating for years, and the entire marketing strategy around the Series Xbox is therefore not the focus of the division's business, but a distinct gateway to the platform's content, although it is not exclusive, and is treated as such, as Sarah Bond explains: “Xbox will also continue to represent a groundbreaking experience for gamers and for game developers to launch games on a robust and innovative multi-year hardware roadmap, including more console options.” Controllers and controllers are yours this holiday season.” However, the device still has its undeniable overall utility. At the same time, it serves as a reference platform to make life easier for developers (if the Xbox console doesn't exist, what can they develop Xbox games for?), as a “premium” platform for enjoying Xbox products, and as a community collector platform, but it draws its share from Games sold for the Microsoft platform, in short, eliminating them will be counterproductive in more than one sense, especially since it will be “the only platform on which the Game Pass service will be available.” Except for PC, obviously.

The news will soon be available on the Xbox side
The news will soon be available on the Xbox side

After all, Xbox has never been on the hardware side. Of course, he didn't push his controllers too much, having Game Pass in front of him, but However, it assured buyers of excellent services, constant updates and worked very well on their peripherals (Just think about how the concept of controller customization is expanded with the Xbox Design Lab.) The podcast was an opportunity to announce the news for the end of 2024 and for the next few years. There is talk of the introduction of a new generation console in development (perhaps a new Xbox Series) and new overall hardware, suggesting some advanced controllers (there are unconfirmed rumors about a new Elite model of the Xbox controller with haptic feedback), which will be introduced in Second part of the year. Bond's exact statements on the matter are: “There are exciting things coming in terms of hardware, which we will share over the Christmas break. Additionally, we have invested in our next-gen roadmap. The goal is to deliver The biggest technological leap we've ever seen in a generation of devices“To make games better for players, creators, and the visions they build.”

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Work is work

The goal of Spencer and his team is to expand the Xbox market
The goal of Spencer and his team is to expand the Xbox market

The most disappointing part of Spencer's speech is the business part. Spencer explained that Xbox must expand its business if it wants to survive. He also said it clearly All announced moves are aimed at getting a “healthy” Xbox.. He reiterated that the traditional model no longer works, that exclusives will be increasingly less important for platforms, that there are also mobile and new markets to consider, etc. In short, he talked a little bit about everything without going into the merits of anything, especially basic issues, such as a case Triple sustainability And how the latter can be ensured by the Xbox model. He just said that they will decide from time to time how to handle different games, in order to cover their expenses or allow them to plan an economically sustainable sequel, which Xbox games can reach other platforms.

Basically, they did not produce a real analysis of the current market, showing how Xbox relates to it and wants to relate to it in the future, it seems that they want to study the situation based on the performance of the four mysterious upcoming games PS5 and Switch. From this point of view it was very ambiguous. It would have been interesting to get a broader picture to better understand certain movements. It may not have been necessary, given the context, but it would have been the perfect corollary to the speech.

Diablo IV is coming to Game Pass
Diablo IV is coming to Game Pass

Also on this issue Layoffs The trio was somewhat vague and hasty, even if this was not the right opportunity to talk about it. While explaining the current economic situation, they were quoted as saying that if the industry is not growing, it needs to improve operations and expand the user base. Kind of painful collateral damage, but necessary to keep the Xbox “healthy,” as it's been said many times.

At the end of the entire event, it was postponed to June, when Microsoft will hold its traditional summer showcase. This will be the moment where all the news just mentioned here will be announced, and where the future of Xbox, Bethesda, Activision, Blizzard, and King will be made clear. In other words, half of the video game industry.

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