I have been a fan for Microsoft for a very long time. I remember playing the original Quake, Doom and Tomb Raider on my PC before buying Halo and the OG Xbox day one. Even though I game on PlayStation and on occasions the Nintendo Switch, Xbox has a special place for me. So it was a privilege to get the opportunity to conduct an interview with Microsoft about the future of Xbox, GamePass and studio acqusition.
What are the brainstorming and decision-making procedure like before acquiring a new studio?
When looking at potential acquisitions, we’re focused on people, teams and ideas. Making great games content starts with empowering great people. We look at what studios we know and respect, who have built strong teams and shown they can make great games. With the studios who have joined Microsoft Studios, our goal is always to keep their unique cultures intact. It’s about giving them the support and resources so that they can focus on making games.
From all the new studios acquired do we expect to see any new games in 2019?
Making great games takes time but I’m very excited about the talent those teams bring to the table and am committed to making sure they have the resources to bring their visions to life. We have nothing new to share.
What has surprised you the most with Xbox Game Pass?
From the very beginning, Xbox Game Pass has been all about providing gamers with the freedom to explore and play over 100 great games for one low-monthly price. Since launching, we have been delighted to see how Xbox Game Pass is additive to the overall gaming industry and ecosystem. In its first year, Xbox Game Pass has proven to be great for both gamers and game developers as an additional way to encourage discovery and engagement across games.
With the success of Xbox Game Pass are there any studios developing games specially for Game Pass?
We have no news to share at this time – what we can say is that the plan to bring new Microsoft Studios titles to Xbox Game Pass the same date as their global release is all about providing more value and choice in how gamers discover and enjoy games. We listened to our fans and this was the most requested feature. We believe this is a great thing for developers and the industry, as it enables more gamers on Xbox to discover and try new content they may not have otherwise, bringing new fans on board across a variety of gaming experiences.
Are there any plans to make the Xbox Game pass more seamless to gamers across both Xbox & PC by introducing all current titles playable on the PC?
We’re committed to ensuring that Xbox Game Pass continues to provide great value and choice to our fans. We believe this content and service can play across platforms. Currently, there are a select number of Xbox Play Anywhere titles in the Game Pass catalog which enable members to play those titles on either an Xbox One or on their Windows 10 PC. In the future, it is our ambition to extend Xbox Game Pass to the PC to provide even more value and choice.
How do you expect Game Pass to evolve in the coming years – and where do you see Xbox and single player games going forward?
There is a balance between investing in new IP and growing healthy, long-living franchises. Forza, Halo, Minecraft, Gears of War and Age of Empires, have established a decade’s worth of fan loyalty and consumer awareness. New games like Sea of Thieves are designed and launched with longevity and expansion in mind. There is no question that we will always need fresh content, and we will need to start new game projects based on original ideas and remarkable IP. However, our current franchises are built on a decade or more of investment and provide relevance and durability that new IP does not have. We should not think about franchises and new IP as “either/or,” but rather look at what each does best. From an Xbox Game Pass perspective, we will continue to evolve the experience to deliver more value and choice to our members, but have nothing further to share at this time.
How would you define Xbox’s approach to developing new games and new IPs?
There is a balance between investing in new IP and growing healthy, long-living franchises. There is no question we will always need fresh content, and we will need to start new game projects based on original ideas and remarkable IP. However, our current franchises are built on a decade or more of investment and provide relevance and durability that new IP does not have. We should not think about franchises and new IP as “either/or,” but rather look at what each does best. Ninja Theory and Compulsion Games are good examples of new studios bringing new narrative driven, single-player games to our Microsoft Studios portfolio. At the same time, the recently acquired studios are not expected to become franchise studios. What their work represents is what most excites us, and we look forward to empowering each team to continue creating great games.
Cloud gaming was mentioned briefly at E3. Is this something you want to push going forward and if so, would you still support physical media moving forward?
We’re on a journey with Gaming Cloud and we have a vision and plan for the platform. You will see more from us as we continue to make a long-term investment. We don’t have anything specific to announce right now.
The Initiative is a studio built from the ground up, is Microsoft planning to build other studios from the ground up? Could we see a studio in Japan?
We have nothing new to share.
Do we expect to see any further studio acquisitions in 2018?
We have nothing new to share.
I would like to thank Microsoft for answering our questions and without a doubt 2019 will be an exciting year. Some of our questions were unfortunately not answered, but Phil Spencer recent trip to Japan we could possibly see an acquisition of a studio over there, as well the rumours that Microsoft could be acquiring Obsidian Entertainment. We should know for certain at Xbox XO18 on November 10th.