With the launch of next-generation consoles coming up later this year, Microsoft and Sony are ushering in the next era of gaming. The companies are taking slightly different approaches. Sony has said it plans to release PS5-exclusive titles right out of the gate, while Microsoft has spoken time and again about not doing this with the Xbox Series X, and instead launching titles across its family of devices.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer told GI.biz that he’s so passionate about this because he wants to make Microsoft’s games available to people no matter what device they have. Forcing people to buy new hardware is against what the spirit of gaming is all about, Spencer said.
“As a player you are the centre of our strategy,” Spencer said. “Our device is not the centre of our strategy, our game is not the centre of the strategy. We want to enable you to play the games you want to play, with the friends you want to play with, on any device. On TV, the Xbox console is going to be the best way to play console games.”
The Series X is the most powerful console Microsoft has ever made, and people who play games on that system will get to experience the “best version” of Microsoft’s games when it comes to fidelity and performance, Spencer said. That being said, Spencer said he doesn’t want to exclusive anyone from Microsoft’s games, so the company will continue to release new games on the regular Xbox One, as well as PC.
“Gaming is about entertainment and community and diversion and learning new stories and new perspectives, 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,” Spencer said. “Or to force someone to buy my specific device on the day that I want them to go buy it, in order to partake in what gaming is about.”
“Gaming is bigger than any one device, and that is something as an industry that we’ve embraced all up as we bring more and more players in. I think it’s vital to the role that gaming can play on the planet.”
The difference in policies between Sony and Microsoft in this regard has led to some portion of the audience criticizing Microsoft for “holding back” the power of new games to accomodate older hardware. Spencer thinks this is a bunch of baloney–just look at the PC market, he said.
“Frankly, held back is a meme that gets created by people who are too caught up in device competition,” Spencer said. “I just look at Windows. It’s almost certain if the developer is building a Windows version of their game, then the most powerful and highest fidelity version is the PC version. You can even see that with some of our first-party console games going to PC, even from our competitors, that the richest version is the PC version. Yet the PC ecosystem is the most diverse when it comes to hardware, when you think about the CPUs and GPUs from years ago that are there.”
With Xbox Game Pass and xCloud, Microsoft no longer even needs you to buy any Xbox model to become an Xbox user.