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We Finally Know Why Xbox Has So Few Exclusives

The retail debut of the Xbox Series X is mere months away, with the console still aiming for a Holiday 2020 release window. The Series X's biggest competitor, the PlayStation 5, is set to launch at roughly the same time, and people are beginning to notice a difference in what the two consoles have to offer. Namely, the PlayStation 5 seems to come with a much more robust line of exclusive games. A recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz may have revealed why this is the case. During the interview, Xbox boss Phil Spencer was rather candid about his feelings toward game exclusivity in the future.


As Spencer puts it, "Gaming is about entertainment and community ... and I find it completely counter to what gaming is about to say that part of that is to lock people away from being able to experience those games."

In other words, Xbox is aiming to be more inclusive by having less of a focus on console-exclusive games. The company doesn't want to keep people from sharing in similar experiences, which is kind of an exciting prospect. The system is expected to still have plenty of exclusives, but these games aren't specifically poised to be the console's main selling points.

Spencer also made it clear to gamers that purchasing the Xbox One version of a game wouldn't necessarily result in a lesser experience when compared to the Series X version. This is an important distinction. According to Spencer, the advancements from next-gen consoles are great and all, but they're not the main focus. 


"We should applaud load times and fidelity of scenes and framerate and input latency, and all of these things that we've focused on with the next generation," Spencer explained. "But that should not exclude people from being able to play."

This really seems to line up with what we've already seen from the Xbox camp, really hammering home the biggest difference between the goals of Xbox and PlayStation. So much of PlayStation's marketing has been built around what new games will be available for the system, as well as what kinds of exclusives will be made available to those who make the jump to the PS5. Even games that have been successful through multiple console generations, like Grand Theft Auto 5, will be receiving new content that only PlayStation 5 gamers will have access to. Everything about the PS5's marketing seems built around getting folks to make the upgrade as soon as humanly possible.

This stands in stark contrast to the Xbox business model. Rather than looking at the next console generation as a complete departure from what came before, the Xbox Series X is poised to build off of previous generations. The Xbox Series X is set to be backwards compatible with thousands of games right from launch. Microsoft is also working to ensure that any games purchased for the current generation will be made available for gamers through Smart Delivery when they make the upgrade to the Series X. Not only that, but Xbox is encouraging publishers to offer these upgrades for free. This ensures that customers aren't feeling rushed to jump to the next console, nor are they less likely to buy a current game because they're holding out to play it on the next-gen system.


That's not to say that the Xbox Series X won't have some sweet games, like the highly anticipated Halo Infinite. However, Sony simply seems to be placing a heavier emphasis on exclusives, with titles like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Horizon: Forbidden West only coming to Sony's next-gen machine. The larger showing of PlayStation 5 titles led to Inverse calling Sony the "clear winner" on the exclusives front.

On the other side of that coin, the plan is to make the Xbox a platform where people can come to it when they're ready, rather than making it feel like an obligation. In other words, Microsoft is viewing the Xbox Series X as an upgrade, but not a necessity. The goal here is to make sure that players don't feel like they're missing out too much if they don't make the jump right away.

Granted, this plan may lead to the Xbox Series X having lower sales, particularly at launch. However, if it all leads to a much more inclusive gaming ecosystem for Xbox fans, then it seems that's a trade-off Microsoft is very willing to make.

In fact, this truly seems to echo Spencer's statements from last month, in which he explained that the Xbox brand is more than just one console. In response to concerns over recent economic hardships, Spencer explained that Xbox's main priority was giving players plenty of choice. 


As Spencer said at the time, "Our strategy does not revolve around how many Xboxes I sell this year."