Xbox business update podcast: which Microsoft games will launch on PlayStation and Switch?

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Xbox business update podcast: which Microsoft games will launch on PlayStation and Switch?

19:23 pm
UTC

Evening all, and welcome to our live coverage. As a reminder, Microsoft is set to publish tonight’s Xbox business update on YouTube and podcast platforms at 8pm UK time – we’ll also have it for you right here.

– Tom Phillips

19:33 pm
UTC

A bit of background – tonight’s update follows repeated leaks of Microsoft’s plans to make at least some of its gaming portfolio available on rival console platforms – a massive change in strategy.

– Tom Phillips

19:35 pm
UTC

Last week, the suggestion that this strategy could potentially extend to high profile exclusives such as last year’s Starfield and this year’s Indiana Jones and the Great Circle sparked some pretty intense discussions on social media from people with emojis in their names.

– Tom Phillips

19:37 pm
UTC

Whatever you think about it all, the fact Microsoft’s plans leaked into the public domain at all is remarkable – in that it was reported to be a result of discomfort from some staff within Xbox itself.

– Tom Phillips

19:40 pm
UTC

So, it’ll be fascinating to see the final shape of these plans announced officially tonight. The Verge reported earlier this week that we’d see Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment and Sea of Thieves going cross-platform. Perhaps for now – to test the waters and calm anyone upset about Xbox sharing bigger exclusives – that’s it?

– Tom Phillips

19:47 pm
UTC

Lifeis2D (He/Him) says: I still can’t believe they’re choosing to do this as a PODCAST.

It is definitely unusual – but then this is an unusual and potentially tricky moment for Microsoft to message. It’s not something Xbox’s usual audience are necessarily going to celebrate, and it will likely benefit from context from Xbox top brass.

– Tom Phillips

19:57 pm
UTC

We’re approaching the top of the hour, so a last bit of background – why is all this happening now?

There’s a few things at play, but likely factors include Xbox hardware selling less than PlayStation, subscription service growth slowing across the board, and the recent purchase of Activision Blizzard. All of these add pressure on Xbox’s bottom line – something we’re also seeing, very sadly, in the recent decision to cull 1900 Xbox and Activision employees.

– Tom Phillips

20:04 pm
UTC

Four Xbox games to go multiplatform – report

Well, it’s 8.02pm and we’re still awaiting Microsoft’s upload of the podcast to go live. In the meantime, The Verge is reporting that the podcast confirms four Xbox games will go multiplatform.

– Tom Phillips

20:04 pm
UTC

Those games will be Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment, Sea of Thieves and Grounded, The Verge reports.

– Tom Phillips

20:05 pm
UTC

Xbox podcast now published

Microsoft has now published the Xbox business update podcast to YouTube. Hit refresh and you’ll see it now embedded above.

– Tom Phillips

20:09 pm
UTC

We’re listening to the Xbox podcast now. Microsoft gaming boss Phil Spencer dubs the exclusivity details as “unforeseen news”, as he was planning to focus at the beginning of this year on Activision Blizzard updates.

– Tom Phillips

20:10 pm
UTC

“We’ve made the decision that we’re going to take four games to the other consoles,” Spencer says. “Just four games, not a change to our fundamental exclusivity strategy.”

– Tom Phillips

20:12 pm
UTC

“We make every decision with the long-term health in mind,” Spencer continues. “A growing platform, our games performing, building the best platform for creators, reaching as many players as we can.”

Spencer says it’s an “interesting time” to take advantage of those other platforms.

– Tom Phillips

20:13 pm
UTC

“I’m not going to name those games,” Spencer says when asked what the four games going multi-platform are. “Those teams have announcement plans that are not too far away.”

But as said below, the identities of these four games are now online.

– Tom Phillips

20:14 pm
UTC

Grounded, Pentiment, Hi-Fi Rush, Sea of Thieves going multiplatform – reports

Both The Verge and GameFile have now reported that these are the four games in question.

– Tom Phillips

20:16 pm
UTC

In the podcast, Spencer specifically names Starfield and Indiana Jones as games not going multiplatform – or at least, not yet.

– Tom Phillips

20:17 pm
UTC

“I have a fundamental belief that over the next five to 10 years, exclusive games – games that are exclusive to one piece of hardware – are going to be a smaller and smaller piece of the games industry,” Spencer says, pointing to games launching on a mix of consoles and PC and mobile across the industry.

– Tom Phillips

20:21 pm
UTC

Xbox exclusives going multiplatform “over a year old”

Spencer gives his reasoning for why Microsoft picked the first four games to go multiplatform. They’re all over a year old, he says. Two are “community driven” that will benefit from larger playerbases (that’s Sea of Thieves and Grounded). Two are smaller titles that are more creative and have realised their full potention on PC and Xbox (that’s Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment).

– Tom Phillips

20:22 pm
UTC

Introducing Xbox exclusives on other platforms also adds to the “brand value” of Xbox, Spencer says.

– Tom Phillips

20:24 pm
UTC

“Four games, no promise beyond that,” Spencer says of future Xbox games coming to PlayStation or Nintendo platforms. “If you’re on those other platforms and see these games coming, please don’t take it as some signal that everything’s coming – it’s not.”

– Tom Phillips

20:27 pm
UTC

“Game Pass will only be available on Xbox”

“Game Pass will only be available on Xbox,” Xbox first-party chief Matt Booty says. It’s an interesting statement where in the past it felt like Microsoft would have wanted it on other platforms too. But that’s perhaps the key difference – on PlayStation, Sea of Thieves might cost £70. On Xbox, you get it in your subscription.

– Tom Phillips

20:31 pm
UTC

Diablo 4 joins Game Pass in March

Diablo 4 joins Xbox and PC Game Pass on 28th March, Xbox boss Sarah Bond confirms.

– Tom Phillips

20:33 pm
UTC

Fair play to Xbox podcast host Tina Amini who asks Phil Spencer to further explain how launching games on rival console platforms “isn’t a change in strategy”.

– Tom Phillips

20:35 pm
UTC

(Spencer’s answer is Xbox hasn’t been one device for a decade, as it’s already on PC and mobile.)

– Tom Phillips

20:37 pm
UTC

Spencer also notes that Xbox is already on PlayStation and Nintendo in the form of Minecraft, and will be publishing on those platforms more in the future anyway as it now owns Activision Blizzard.

– Tom Phillips

20:39 pm
UTC

So why now? Spencer says that even after a strong year for releases across the industry in 2023, the industry didn’t grow. This lead to layoffs – at Microsoft and elsewhere. So how do you grow the industry?

– Tom Phillips

20:40 pm
UTC

Spencer says Xbox’s answer is the same as it has been over the past decade – growing the Xbox business to new players.

– Tom Phillips

20:43 pm
UTC

Sarah Bond points to Palworld’s recent release as an example of something being a hit across multiple platforms which Xbox players had the benefit of playing on Game Pass.

– Tom Phillips

20:44 pm
UTC

(Until Nintendo lawyers take it down.)

– Tom Phillips

20:45 pm
UTC

Game Pass is still growing, Sarah Bond says – the subscription is at its peak for users on cloud and PC and console – without giving specifics on those numbers.

– Tom Phillips

20:48 pm
UTC

Turning to Xbox hardware, Sarah Bond describes it as “the flagship, seminal experience of Xbox” and a “developer target” for performance to hit.

– Tom Phillips

20:51 pm
UTC

New Xbox hardware in Q4

“There’s some exciting stuff coming out in hardware that we’re going to share this holiday,” Sarah Bond says.

Is this the redesigned Xbox Series X/S and refreshed controller that leaked last year?

– Tom Phillips

20:52 pm
UTC

Next-gen Xbox aims for largest technical leap in a hardware generation

“We’re also invested in the next-generation roadmap,” Bond continues. “And what we’re really focused on there is delivering the largest technical leap you’ve ever seen in a hardware generation.”

– Tom Phillips

20:56 pm
UTC

Future Xbox hardware will “respect” your game entitlements, Spencer says on game preservation, mentioning also that many games also launch on PC so you can continue playing there.

– Tom Phillips

20:57 pm
UTC

Feels like we’re wrapping up now. What is Xbox? Sarah Bond says it’s the platform with the biggest games, with Game Pass, where you can play anywhere through the cloud. Invest in Xbox and you are investing in somewhere dedicated to making video games and game developers more successful, Bond says.

– Tom Phillips

20:58 pm
UTC

I’m not sure how successful the 1900 people Microsoft and Activision Blizzard are letting go feel, but there we go.

– Tom Phillips

21:01 pm
UTC

Over on X, Microsoft has now confirmed that its hardware plans for this “holiday” will include “more console and controller options”.

“Xbox hardware will also continue to be a flagship experience for players and for game developers to launch games on with a robust and innovative multi-year hardware roadmap, including more console and controller options for you this holiday,” Microsoft wrote.

– Tom Phillips

21:07 pm
UTC

Ad_Infinitum says: So the “adorably all digital” Xbox Series X is hitting “this holiday” then. Will be interesting to see how it fares against the Switch 2 and PS5 Pro (assuming they all launch during 2024)…

Each of the big three console platforms launching new hardware this year is an exciting prospect. As for whether what we see from Xbox resembles those leaked plans that dated from 2022, we’ll have to wait and find out.

– Tom Phillips

21:09 pm
UTC

(Just launch the digital Xbox Series X with an optional hard drive like Sony, surely?)

– Tom Phillips

21:13 pm
UTC

A few more lines from around the internet before wrapping up. The Verge had the chance to speak with Phil Spencer and question him specifically on whether Starfield will follow Microsoft’s first four games onto PlayStation.

“I don’t think we should as an industry ever rule out a game going to any other platform,” was Spencer’s reply. “We’re focused on these four games and learning from the experience. But I don’t want to create a false expectation on those other platforms that this is somehow the first four to get over the dam and then the dam’s going to open and that everything else is coming, that’s not the plan today.”

– Tom Phillips

21:26 pm
UTC

Xbox Game Pass subscribers now at 34m

Lastly, a confirmation Xbox Game Pass now stands at 34 million subscribers. That figure was mentioned briefly by Sarah Bond in the podcast, and has been expanded upon further by Game File.

“When there’s a fixed number of console players on the planet you’re not going to grow Game Pass forever by shipping just on consoles,” Spencer said. “So we’re seeing really significant growth on PC, which is great, and cloud.”

It’s been a while since we last had an official update on subscriber numbers – since January 2022, when Microsoft’s tally stood at 25 million.

– Tom Phillips

21:27 pm
UTC

And with that, we’re going to end our live coverage of today’s Xbox business update podcast. Thanks for reading and commenting along – and good night!

– Tom Phillips



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