There’s a new rumor making the rounds that Xbox is planning to bring a number of its series to other platforms like PlayStation, ranging from Grounded to Sea of Thieves to potentially even Halo: The Master Chief Collection. While the sourcing on that is questionable, what already seems to be confirmed is that at the very least, Hi-Fi Rush does appear to be heading to Switch and PS5 based on datamined cosmetic leaks.
Even Xbox fans are trying to parse out exactly what’s going on here, and what Microsoft’s plan for gaming is going forward. Increasingly, it feels like it’s being pulled in many, many different directions without a cohesive plan other than “lots of games on lots of platforms” which comes with a hundred questions.
- First, Microsoft very much knew that it was behind the likes of Nintendo and Sony when it came to big, high profile, first party releases. That’s why they went on a studio acquisition spree and have started to roll out big exclusives like Starfield, with others like Avowed, Perfect Dark, Indiana Jones and Fable to come.
- But Microsoft then acquired Activision Blizzard, and a condition of that was swearing up and down that a franchise like Call of Duty would not be made exclusive to Xbox, nor does it seems that things like Overwatch or Diablo will either. But what does or does not go on Game Pass in terms of past, present and future Activision Blizzard games is still entirely unclear, and it feels like this arm is getting special consideration Bethesda and other acquired studios are not.
- Microsoft has repeatedly said that they do not put much weight into console sales, as it’s simply one vector to play Xbox games. As such, they have not reported specific console sales in years, though all estimates point to them losing last generation 2:1 to Sony and possible this generation by the same margin. Recently, they’ve announced hardware sales were lower than forecast.
- The counter-claim is that Xbox Game Pass subscriptions are more important than console sales, building up the “ecosystem” of Xbox. This includes same-day PC launches so you don’t need to own an Xbox at all. And it can include playing on the cloud, even though cloud gaming is not viable in many parts of America specifically with poor internet, with no real ability from Microsoft to change that. But if Game Pass is more important than console sales, they have also now stopped reporting Game Pass subscription numbers since January of 2022 and the common logic is that it may be hitting a saturation ceiling.
- Now, we have this new development where Microsoft may decide to simply bring many of its games to rival platforms like PlayStation or Switch. There’s no indication this will be done literally through Game Pass on those systems, but rather normal store listings. For some games, the argument is that they’re multiplayer and this would help the playerbase, games like Grounded and Sea of Thieves. Others make less sense, like Xbox’s most awarded release of last year, Hi-Fi Rush, which will come to other platforms…why? Many fans aren’t clear on that, and it raises the question of what games are “small” enough to warrant this treatment, and where is the line drawn. As a mere AA game, could Avowed come to PlayStation later? Or if they don’t drive enough Game Pass subs or internal sales, what about Indiana Jones, Fable or Perfect Dark? Or in an effort to let “more people experience the wonders of the stars” or however marketing would phrase it, what Starfield ended up going to PlayStation?
So, does Microsoft want to be a quality first party developer, driving players to Xbox over PlayStation and Nintendo? Or do they want to be a subscription based cloud service where boxes don’t matter? Or do they want to be the Santa Claus of gaming spreading former exclusives far and wide? None of these visions really align with each other, and in trying to do them all, it’s left everyone, even some die-hard Xbox fans, very confused so that one question keeps coming up. Why exactly should anyone buy an actual Xbox?
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