Xbox Bringing Four Unnamed Titles to PlayStation, Switch

Four unnamed titles previously exclusive to the Microsoft gaming platform will be coming to other platforms in the future, the company announced Thursday.

“We made a decision that we’re going to take four games to the other consoles,” said Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, on the Official Xbox Podcast. “[This is] not a change to our fundamental exclusive strategy. We’re making this decision for specific reasons; we make every decision with the long-term health of Xbox in mind.”

Spencer would not name the specific four exclusive titles that would be appearing on Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, citing plans already in progress by the developers of the games that had been chosen to make those announcements on an individual basis. Spencer did confirm that neither Bethesda Softworks’ 2023 release Starfield nor its upcoming Indiana Jones and the Great Circle title would be among the four, and stated that all four titles were currently-released exclusives that had been on the market for over a year. Two of the games were “community-oriented” games that were first installments in their franchise which Microsoft felt had reached their full potential on Xbox and PC and were ready to make a jump to a wider segment of the gaming audience. The other two games were “smaller games that were never really meant to be built as platform-exclusives,” and represent an opportunity for Microsoft to “drive more business value” out of a completed product.

Spencer repeatedly stated that this limited program did not signal an end to Microsoft’s general practice of keeping first-party games developed by Microsoft exclusive to their gaming platform (Xbox consoles and the Windows Store on PC) and that move to bring the four games to the other platforms was being done in service of the long-term health and growth of “the Xbox as a hardware platform, Xbox as a publisher of great games, and Xbox as a platform for the world’s best creators.”

The 22-minute podcast, which discussed changes to Microsoft’s exclusivity policy for roughly six and a half minutes before moving onto the Activision Blizzard merger, the company’s strategy with Game Pass moving forward, and the Xbox hardware itself, came in response to an outsized online reaction to reports last week that Microsoft would be bringing Starfield and Indiana Jones to other consoles, which then led to unsourced speculation across social media that Microsoft would be doing away with its exclusivity strategy in full and even that the company would be getting out of the hardware market to pivot fully to publishing titles in a manner similar to Sega after it discontinued the Dreamcast in 2001.

In addition to refuting those rumors in general and specifically refuting the report about Bethesda’s two big-budget single-player titles, Spencer and Xbox president Sarah Bond reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to the Xbox as a hardware platform, confirming plans were already underway for the next generation of Xbox hardware with more news to come on that front in holiday 2024.

TheChirurgeon: Given that this is only four games, my guess is that at least two of them and possibly all four are games which rely heavily on building an online audience to sustain long-term viability. There’s no upside to being console exclusive if your game needs a dedicated audience of players and network effects to stay alive. Releasing to competing consoles with dedicated cross-platform play is the best option for those games.

Jonathan Bernhardt: This was a press release that turned into a podcast due to the high temperature that speculation hit over the past week on social media and especially among Xbox’s influencer community, some of whom were on the verge of hysterics (and some of whom passed it) over the possibility of the Xbox going away as a console. Good to see the temperature’s turned down a little, now. This is a very modest pilot program, and there really aren’t that many games that make sense for it — Pentiment is almost certainly one of the smaller titles, for instance, while Sea of Thieves almost has to be one of the bigger “community-oriented” new franchises — but it’ll be interesting to see how it moves Microsoft’s business plans in the future.

Otherwise, it’s an interesting/fun little game for us – anyone have any guesses what the four games will be?

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