The head of Xbox discussed several subjects in an interview with Kotaku.
Regarding the Xbox Series S, Phil Spencer said: „I think we’ll sell every unit of both of them that we can deliver [at launch]. I think demand is just going to outstrip supply of pre-orders. For us and PlayStation, I think that the manufacturing supply chain is going to dictate [market] share more than anything else. I think, over the generation, we would expect that price matters and that you would see the Series S sell more.” He added that since the Xbox Series S games will be smaller (lower-resolution textures), the games will load faster.
He didn’t deny that making games for the smaller Xbox will require extra work for the devs: „Absolutely, it is work. There’s no doubt about that. The fact that you have two performance specs now, I’m not going to stand here or try to PR somebody and say two different specs is the same as having one spec. It’s not. We’re doing this because we want to expand the market.” Keep in mind that the PlayStation 5 also has two versions, but its specs don’t differ (aside from the lack of an Ultra HD Blu-ray drive), while the two new Xbox consoles have more differences.
„Is it possible to recoup a $7.5 billion investment if you don’t sell Elder Scrolls VI on the PlayStation?”, Kotaku asked about Microsoft buying Zenimax, the owners of Bethesda. Spencer’s reply is a bit confusing: „Yes… I don’t want to be flip about that. This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games. But I’ll also say in the model—I’m just answering directly the question that you had—when I think about where people are going to be playing and the number of devices that we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base, I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support to kind of make the deal work for us. Whatever that means.” So he said the games will show up on PlayStation in a case-by-case basis, and he doesn’t want them to be blocked from a group of players… that sounds like a contradiction.
Will Halo Infinite be released in two halves? (Separate campaign and multiplayer.) Spencer said that 343 Industries head of studio Bonnie Ross „will go drive those decisions, but I think we want to make sure people feel like they have a Halo experience. I think we can look at options like that… So, yeah, I think that’s something to think about, but we want to make sure we do it right.” What about cross-gen exclusives? Matt Booty, the head of Xbox Game Studios, said in January that Microsoft’s title will be cross-gen for one-to-two years after the Xbox Series’ launch. Spencer contradicted this as well: „I think we’re going to take it on a case by case basis. When we talk about a couple of years, it’s just when we look at the roadmap of games and the things that we’re building, that’s what we see. And so we’re just trying to be transparent with people about the roadmap of games that would be coming for last-gen.”
Spencer claims that Microsoft has a „very good relationship with Nintendo.” However, „it doesn’t feel sustainable” for them to consider Xbox titles on the Nintendo Switch on a case-by-case basis. „To support it, I would want a full Xbox ecosystem somewhere, and that probably means things like Live and Game Pass and stuff,” he said. In other words: unless Game Pass and xCloud show up on the Switch, there will be only a few titles on the big N’s platform.
Can Rare make more games based on its classic characters? „I leave it up to the studios in terms of the things that they want to go work on. I have a lot of respect for Rare and the work that they do. They do like building new things, and they’ve seen success with Sea of Thieves. I think they’re excited about Everwild. But also the response to Battletoads was nice. And I think [partner studio] Dlala did a good job with the game. And so I think it’s just always a balance. My inbox is full of: ‘Let every studio do new [intellectual property].’ And also: ‘Why have you brought back Crimson Skies and Blinx?’”, he replied.
We’ll see if the acquisition approach pays off for Microsoft against Sony or not.
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