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Xbox Fans Just Got The Best News

A key factor in video games has always been their platforms. Many games are exclusive to certain consoles, and sometimes the best way to pick between two (or more) upcoming consoles is to examine which has the stronger lineup of launch exclusives. However, many games are released on more than one platform. Usually, this practice is exclusive to third-party titles, but Microsoft is leading the charge to launch first-party games on more than one platform, some of which are unorthodox.


Recently, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer sat down with Game Reactor to discuss his take on subjects such as video game exclusivity and monetization. The interviewer, Magnus Groth-Anderson, eventually broached the subject of releasing Xbox games on competing platforms, and Spencer had some fascinating hot takes on the subject.

Spencer summarized his stance by stating, "great games should be able to be played by as many people as possible." He firmly believes gaming isn't just "an Xbox thing" and loves that games cross socioeconomic, geographical, and even religious lines. However, while Spencer loves Microsoft's current relationship with Nintendo, he admitted he is tired of customers constantly asking if each new first-party game will launch on the Nintendo Switch. Xbox games on PCs and smart devices, however, are a different matter.


Lately, Microsoft has doubled down on porting Xbox games to PC — and streaming games on Android phones via the cloud. Many gamers who don't own an Xbox One can still play Xbox titles through Steam. Moreover, Microsoft is focusing a lot of attention on Xbox Game Pass and game streaming. During the interview, Spencer stated Microsoft is working on technology to stream Xbox games onto PCs and iOS devices, and once that's done, there's a whole world of untapped markets to look towards, including Chromebooks, Fire TVs, and smart TVs.

Will Xbox Game Pass launch on those devices? Spencer said there is a lot to discuss, and the biggest audiences would be prioritized, but given his credo, don't be surprised if Microsoft announces Game Pass for televisions in the future.

You might wonder why Microsoft would ever consider producing Xbox Game Pass streaming for smart TVs. The very notion seems counterintuitive given the company's proprietary line of consoles. Spencer admitted that offering first-party games on rival platforms weakens the "value proposition" of the Xbox, but according to him, the Xbox team measures success by how many people play Xbox games, not just on Xbox consoles. The more people who play first-party Microsoft games, whether on PC, the Xbox Series X, or the Nintendo Switch, the better.


With this knowledge, the interview eventually turned to the subject that has been on everyone's minds since September: Microsoft's purchase of ZeniMax/Bethesda. Spencer started by clearing the air and stating Microsoft hasn't acquired ZeniMax just yet. He expects the deal to go through early 2021, but for now, Microsoft doesn't own ZeniMax.

Regardless, console exclusivity for Bethesda properties is the furthest thing from Spencer's mind. As with the rest of Microsoft's library, Spencer just wants companies such as Arkane Studios, id Software, and Machine Games to create amazing titles, and he wants Microsoft to support that process. Spencer's dreams don't necessarily mean Bethesda games will launch on the PlayStation 5, but restricting them to the Xbox Series X is not a priority. Spencer's general desire to support game development instead of lock titles behind console exclusivity might also apply to other companies recently purchased by Microsoft, including Obsidian Entertainment, Ninja Theory, and Double Fine.

While Spencer didn't provide any solid statements one way or another, his implications are crystal clear. Microsoft isn't publishing games that are restricted to the Xbox Series X because the company measures success by the number of gamers who play Microsoft-produced games, not Microsoft-produced consoles. Spencer wants to create as many Xbox fans as possible, including those who don't actually own an Xbox console.


Billions of people use smartphones and smart TVs, but only around 50 million own an Xbox One. It's unlikely Xbox Game Pass will come to the Nintendo Switch, but Game Pass streaming sticks and streaming services for smart devices sound right up Spencer's alley. Why compete with the mobile market via a handheld Xbox console when you can just produce a Game Pass subscription to stream Xbox games onto phones? Billions of potential gamers are waiting in the wings, and Spencer is seemingly intent on welcoming them into the Xbox family fold via a recurring $10 subscription fee instead of an upfront $500 console purchase.