• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • Hey Guest. Check out the NeoGAF 2.2 Update Thread for details on our new Giphy integration and other new features.

Opinion Game Dev Platform Phil Spencer: Xbox Series X will have Microsoft’s ‘most diverse collection of first-party games’

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
26,381
26,993
1,335
ibiza

In an interview with Polygon, Spencer said Microsoft is focused on providing players with choice, and following an upgrade model similar to PCs, phones, and televisions — upgrades console owners are comfortable with.

“I think the fundamental difference is that we’re trying to grow an Xbox ecosystem,” Spencer said. “We’re trying to build that around the player and give the player choice. If they choose to play on their television on a console, we want to have absolutely the best console experience. And I think we have that.”

Not every family will be in a financial position to spend or want to spend hundreds of dollars on a new console this year, Spencer said.

“I think what you see is us challenging some of what I will say are the financial tropes or financial historicals of the console business,” Spencer said. “Because I don’t think everybody should have to go buy a new collection of games when they buy a new console. I just fundamentally don’t believe that. I think you should have games that look great on that new console. But you shouldn’t have to go buy all-new games to go play on that console. I think if I make a purchase on Xbox One — I believed this even in the 360 days, even though we didn’t do it at the launch of Xbox One — it should continue to work as I move up in the hardware [cycle].”

Xbox Series X will also launch with a major investment in game studios from Microsoft. Over the past two years, the company has added Ninja Theory, Obsidian Entertainment, Undead Labs, inXile Entertainment, and others to its internal stable. It spun up a new studio, The Initiative, to create something still unannounced. It also has the likes of Rare, 343 Industries, and Turn 10 Studios developing original and franchise games for Xbox and PC. The result of that growth is “the most diverse collection of first-party games that we’ve ever had,” Spencer said.

“I honestly think we’re in the best launch lineup position that we’ve ever been on Xbox,” Spencer said. “When I think about the strength and depth of the games that people are going to be able to play day one on Xbox Series X — not only because of [backward compatibility] — and the way that Game Pass really allows the total cost of ownership of our console, I think is a real strength.

“But you know, we also have Halo. The last time we had Halo at the launch of a console was 2001. And we feel really good about Halo. It’ll be a big part in the [Xbox Series X Game Showcase on July 23].”

Spencer didn’t offer much in the way of details on the next Halo game — it’s said to be a major focus of Microsoft’s game showcase this week — but he did offer an intriguing hint about Halo Infinite’s “structure” and some lessons learned from from Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the six-game compilation that’s still rolling out new games on PC.

“There’s been a ton of learning in the studio around what does it mean to actually have a collection, the kind of totality of the Halo lore and stories and experience inside of one Halo world, one Halo UI, and platform,” Spencer said. “As 343 has gone through this journey, they’ve seen some of the benefits of not requiring that our customers make a decision between ‘Do I want to play this one or that one?’ I feel like in a way, the games almost compete with each other. You see that with some of the annualized franchises that are out there — which clearly Halo’s not annualized — but you see that where you spend a lot of energy actually trying to move the customers who are already playing your game to a new version of your game. I think as gaming has evolved, there’s a view of ‘Our customers are our customers and we should respect them where they are.’ It’s similar to our Xbox message, and I think you’ll see that in terms of the way Infinite is talked about — even the structure of what the game is itself.”

Beyond Halo — and presumably more Gears, more Forza, and more Minecraft — Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty told Polygon that games from studios like Double Fine, Obsidian, and Compulsion Games will bring a diverse slate of ideas to Xbox’s first-party lineup. Booty said Microsoft looked to three things when deciding which teams to acquire to bolster Xbox Game Studios: “People — people that we knew and we’ve worked with before; teams — teams that have stuck together, and have been through some good times and some adverse times; and then, ideas — in terms of a steady flow of new things that we could bring to our players.”

What’s more, those games should represent not just a diversity of ideas, but the diversity of creators and a diversity of the audience that plays games, Booty said.

“We are also always on the lookout to try to build relationships with studios that are founded and run by people that are different than what we’ve had in the industry for the last couple of decades,” Booty said. “I’m very proud of the fact that Minecraft is run by a woman, Helen Chiang. My particular leadership team of looking across the studios has got people like Bonnie Ross. It’s got Shannon Loftis, running Age of Empires. You know Ninja Theory, founded by Nina [Kristensen]. ...

“Obviously, there’s more that we can do. I think you’ll see some of the titles that we’ve got in our showcase coming up hopefully represent work that we’re trying to do there to bring in different groups and really represent them with respect. And I think it’s important that we do that, because that’s how people will come into the industry, right? People that have maybe felt that the game industry is closed and not for them, they need to see themselves in the content, because that telegraphs that, ‘Look, this is a place for you. We want your ideas. We want your voice. Come join us in making these games and not just playing them.’”

Even for a veteran studio like Banjo-Kazooie and Sea of Thieves developer Rare, the driving force is new ideas. Rare’s next game, Everwild, will build on ideas and development experiences the studio learned during the creation of Sea of Thieves, a game that launched still in development on Xbox One and Windows PC, and has since found a larger audience with Game Pass subscribers and players on Steam.

“I think we’re definitely idea-first,” Rare studio head Craig Duncan told Polygon. “We will bet and incubate and nurture the idea we think is great, and then we’ll assume that all the business side of it will figure itself out as we go.

“I remember our first thousand players sailing in Sea of Thieves. Then that became 100,000. Then it became millions. Then it became a monthly update [for] 12 months. Sea of Thieves organically grew with our players, and I think that suits Rare as a model — particularly if you’re making a game where players have to get can imprint themselves onto it.”

Sea of Thieves’ “very open development model” philosophy and an ever-evolving cooperative world is something that seems will carry over to Everwild, which Duncan described as “very unique.”

We learned a lot from Sea of Thieves,” Duncan said. “At its heart, we love the idea of Sea of Thieves [and] players creating stories together. I think with Everwild, Louise [O’Connor] and her leadership team are really passionate about giving players a world that they can just lose themselves in — you know, a lot of nature feels magical. So the notion of, ‘What does it mean to nurture a world? What does it mean to be in nature?’ Part of the reason we haven’t talked a lot about Everwild is because we’re still feeling a lot of these things out. We’re still playing around with gameplay ideas. We’ll have plenty to say in the future on that, but … we have an idea we feel really passionate about, and we think there’s something special. I have a team of people that wake up every morning with the desire to make this game that they’re really, really passionate about.”

Microsoft hasn’t said much about what’s coming from The Initiative, the studio it established in Santa Monica, California — not far from Treyarch, Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, Electronic Arts in LA, and others — in 2018. But, Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty said, “I think people are going to be pretty excited when we start to talk about what’s going on there.”

“We’ve got things like Halo and Minecraft and Forza, Gears of War, Age of Empires, Flight Sim,” Booty explained. “In many cases, these are franchises that are a decade or more established, which is fantastic. A big franchise like that comes with its own things that you can do. There’s a lot of room within a big world to innovate on its own. But it’s a separate thing when you think about how you manage that production. And then we’ve got some of the studios that we’ve acquired that came with their own culture. And when we think about — how are we going to keep ourselves from sitting still, and how are we going to kind of mix things up a little bit?

“We had a unique opportunity with The Initiative that Darrell Gallagher, who’s obviously had a lot of success in the industry [at Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix, and Activision], became available. And we thought, where can we build the studio, which we haven’t done in a while? And how would this work? [...] And what does it mean to build a studio in a location that we really haven’t had a presence? I think you’ve seen some of the hires that Darrell’s made, where there’s just a lot of activity in that area where we can hire really great talent. We decided, let’s try something new. We’ve got these big franchises. They sort of have their own way of doing something. We acquired some studios that came with their own culture. How do we start something from ground zero?”

One important factor that will affect Xbox Game Studios’ lineup on Xbox Series X and other platforms is Game Pass, the subscription-based, all-you-can play service that boasts more than 10 million subscribers. Spencer said Game Pass was built on a plan to “give us a larger creative canvas to build on,” where not every game’s success is measured by how many units it sells.

“We now have a platform that can really support us taking more creative risk,” Spencer said. “I think absolutely there’s an opportunity for us to do that with more franchises, whether it’s ... kind of spinoff genres, or even revisiting things like Flight Sim, and bringing those back. They’re actually part of the same lens for us of, ‘What is it in our portfolio that we have? And what ideas would we either like to go back and revisit or experiment with more?’

“Game Pass really helps us do that, because you can look at something like [Gears Tactics], and say, ‘Hey, could we make a turn-based strategy game out of Gears. What does the success metric look like for that?’ Your normal process [is] some business people would go off and use Excel and tell you what the average selling number is for a PC turn-based strategy game. You say, ‘OK, and we want to bring that to console.’ So you kind of add those two numbers up and you evaluate it. But now we can say, ‘Well wait a minute, we have over 10 million subscribers in the subscription. How many of those people will play and get retained and be a part of the subscription?’ It really creates a different way for us to evaluate what games we go off and build, and allows us to do some things that frankly, we wouldn’t go do if we were just driven by the retail dynamics of the industry.”

That change in evaluation, combined with Xbox games being available on PC, as well as on phones and tablets though Project xCloud, offers Microsoft much more leeway going into a new generation of console.

“I don’t think we want a portfolio of any one kind of game,” Spencer said. “We want a breadth of offerings in the portfolio, which is why we’ve been investing in such a diverse slate of games and studios over the last couple of years. And one thing I really noticed on the [July] 23rd show, as I’ve been sitting back and watching the narrative unfold, is it’s got to be the most diverse collection of first-party games that we’ve ever had, when I look at art style and size — I mean from some big, big, big teams and big, bombastic overtures to smaller, more bite-sized things — and I think that’s our strength.”
 

Thomasina

Neo Member
Jul 17, 2020
2
4
75
Hard to believe after they pretty much abandoned their first party endeavors at the end of 360. They're basically starting from scratch at this point. OG XBOX had some strong support.
 

Rhazer Fusion

Member
May 2, 2006
10,867
2,190
1,510
In my own world.
m.youtube.com
Hope they have a good show because I feel they have a lot to prove especially with their first party offerings. Diversity is always good, but I feel the primary problem is will the XBox demographic embrace this diversity. I’m insinuating they are doing this to attract some new gamers as well. We’ll see in a few days.
 

Megatron

Member
Feb 22, 2012
8,187
630
870
All they need for that to be true is to have more than FPS and racing games.

Naw, I’m just kidding. Very excited for Thursday!
 

hyperbertha

Member
Nov 24, 2018
1,994
6,711
625
By diversity does he mean diversity in terms of budget? Very progressive and resetera approved. More studios should embrace the diversity our budgets offers.
 

Hobbygaming

has been asked to post in 'Grounded' mode.
Sep 30, 2019
4,510
8,481
580
My wishlist
Halo Infinite being a showcase
Fable reboot
Perfect Dark reboot
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Everwild campaign trailer
Hellblade 2 gameplay
Forza 8 with Microsoft Flight Simulator graphics
 

JonnyMP3

Member
May 31, 2020
1,658
5,260
410
Just games would be nice. The dearth on X1 was actually shocking.
I felt sorry for my Xbox 1X owning friend that played more games on my PS4 Pro than I did on his X.
I hope for the both of us that there's just more games to enjoy and experience throughout the life cycle. Scalebound being cancelled and nothing in way of a new big IP was depressing and MS memed themselves into being the 'just a Halo, Gears and Forza machine'.
 

CitizenX

Banned
Jul 15, 2020
751
742
305
My wishlist
Halo Infinite being a showcase
Fable reboot
Perfect Dark reboot
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Everwild campaign trailer
Hellblade 2 gameplay
Forza 8 with Microsoft Flight Simulator graphics

So in other words, nothing new and predictable as always. Im not trying to be mean but that is what that list represents, nothing.
 

brap

Banned
Jan 9, 2018
13,945
38,063
1,185
Will they be good though? Also not hard to be more diverse than Sony with all their third person narrative driven games.
 
  • Thoughtful
Reactions: DarkMage619

skneogaf

Member
Aug 31, 2017
1,233
1,667
455
Which is actually an xbox issue as playstation exclusive games are majority the same (3rd person story driven) and the most popular in sales and reviews.
 
  • LOL
Reactions: Hendrick's

Nikana

Go Go Neo Rangers!
Jan 26, 2016
11,030
15,568
915
Hey Phil, just a thought.

SHUT UP!

Fucking hell I'm sick of these stupid long-winded interviews where he says so much and yet manages to say literally nothing.

 

Dory16

Banned
Nov 15, 2013
1,047
1,506
700
Good interview. Phil and Booty seem confident and proud of what they've accomplished so far. But the only assessment that counts is the one by the gamers, so I think that this nth interview in recent weeks could have been left for after the showcase event. At the end of the day it does not matter how pleased you are with your strategy if the public doesn't buy in. Don't get me wrong, Xbox has done a lot in recent years and certainly earned points back but this game show is critical. Nothing else they say fundamentally matters until we know that they will be having great games and many of them. Pat yourselves on the back after, Microsoft.
 

JonnyMP3

Member
May 31, 2020
1,658
5,260
410
Which is actually an xbox issue as playstation exclusive games are majority the same (3rd person story driven) and the most popular in sales and reviews.
So true. Even Nintendo had Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Switch at the same time Horizon: Zero Dawn came to PS4.
 
Last edited:

TheGrat1

Member
Jun 2, 2020
319
647
330
I swear Phil does more interviews than anything else. I know Matt Booty runs the studios but does Phil really have nothing better to do? Jim Ryan, Hermen Hulst or anyone at Nintendo do not talk even 1/3 as much this guy.
 

supernova8

Member
Jun 2, 2020
1,720
2,393
420

Ahaha yeah blew my top a little. These content-less interviews are just getting really old. To be fair Jim Ryan sort of did the same thing on the Sony side but there seems to be another Phil article every other day these days. It's amusing that he's basically doing damage control with regard to cross-gen policy and the July 23 event hasn't even happened yet.
 

Pallas

Gold Member
May 9, 2018
3,425
4,196
595
Tennessee
I swear Phil does more interviews than anything else. I know Matt Booty runs the studios but does Phil really have nothing better to do? Jim Ryan, Hermen Hulst or anyone at Nintendo do not talk even 1/3 as much this guy.

Blame the “gaming journalistic” websites for loving to interview the guy and he’s a good sport about it. I don’t think he sits at his desk trying to fish for interview possibilities. He realizes he’s the face of Xbox now.
 

supernova8

Member
Jun 2, 2020
1,720
2,393
420
Blame the “gaming journalistic” websites for loving to interview the guy and he’s a good sport about it. I don’t think he sits at his desk trying to fish for interview possibilities. He realizes he’s the face of Xbox now.

I think he needs to realise that the more he does interviews, the less 'special' it becomes when he does interviews. I want to think "Ooh an interview with the Head of Xbox!" and not "Oh FFS another interview with the Head of Xbox"
 

Lionel Richie

Member
Jun 22, 2014
13,485
13,985
930
I feel like “most diverse” and “greatest creative freedom” is coded language for — we are showing off A and AA games... but but they are different than the typical shooter, shooter, racer line up we have.

I expect lots of Halo, some Fable, Batman footage and indie, indie, indie.

So... PS5 reveal again. The question is, will they stoop so low as Goodbye Volcano High? Can they?
 

peter42O

Member
Aug 9, 2014
4,098
1,978
580
Can't wait. Just over 60 hours until the pre-show. Looking forward to seeing what their launch lineup will end up being. I'm thinking Halo Infinite, Gears Tactics and Forza Horizon 5 would be very strong as a trio of games. Anything extra would be a bonus in my opinion. Plus, third party exclusives like The Ascent and The Medium as well as third party multi-platform games like AC Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, COD 2020, Watch Dogs Legion, Outriders and more. Doesn't even include all the Backwards Compatible games either. Jeez. Will definitely be a stacked launch.
 

DavidGzz

Gold Member
Jan 7, 2018
2,318
2,694
615
Anticipation's high leading up to July 23rd and people wonder why good guy Phil is doing interviews. Maybe take a break from video games sites until after July 23rd you big babies.

Put some respect on it. He's doing his best to give Sony some competition so they don't screw you over.
 
Last edited:

Investor9872

Member
Jan 4, 2020
1,039
1,383
410
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, or just am plainly too hopeful, but this statement leads me to believe that rumors of Lockhart being a portable system may be true after all: Phil Spencer - “We’re trying to build that around the player and give the player choice. If they choose to play on their television on a console...."
 

DavidGzz

Gold Member
Jan 7, 2018
2,318
2,694
615
I think
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, or just am plainly too hopeful, but this statement leads me to believe that rumors of Lockhart being a portable system may be true after all: Phil Spencer - “We’re trying to build that around the player and give the player choice. If they choose to play on their television on a console...."


Probably means Xcloud. Play and take it anywhere. They will probably even have a TV app.
 

jonesxlv

Neo Member
Jun 8, 2020
11
33
125
I think he needs to realise that the more he does interviews, the less 'special' it becomes when he does interviews. I want to think "Ooh an interview with the Head of Xbox!" and not "Oh FFS another interview with the Head of Xbox"

The most important, and potentially biggest, event MS will do in the last 10 years (potentially since the 360 announcement), and you are questioning the marketing push/blitz? Don't read the article if you don't want to. Move on.
 

Hobbygaming

has been asked to post in 'Grounded' mode.
Sep 30, 2019
4,510
8,481
580
So in other words, nothing new and predictable as always. Im not trying to be mean but that is what that list represents, nothing.
Yeah it's safe but it's what I want to see personally
 

fallingdove

Member
Dec 8, 2011
1,680
891
825
You've got to admit it did provide entertainment value as the WTF moment of that show. I still don't know what that is or what the gameplay could possibly be like.
Ha - I guess so. For as exciting and professional as Jimbo Ryan was shooting for with the PS5 conference, I don’t know how that one slipped by.
 

abacab driver

Member
Sep 23, 2006
2,225
310
1,325
So in other words, nothing new and predictable as always. Im not trying to be mean but that is what that list represents, nothing.

Surely you couldn't have predicted those new installments to Spiderman, Horizon, Gran Turismo (23 year old franchise) and Ratchet and Clank (18 year old franchise) that Sony showed, could you?

I'm sure they 'represented nothing' to you, right? Or were those new enough for you?
 

Omeggos

Member
Jan 12, 2018
6,487
6,848
645
I mean that’s not that huge of a bar. The last time their library felt varied was back in the early 360 days.

though tbf a good chunk of ps4’s exclusives this gen hit the same repeating style (single player cinematic story focused with third person action/shooter gameplay.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Slings and Arrows

bender

Bending Rodríguez (22, 1,729)
Apr 12, 2010
9,050
13,119
1,420
All of their developer acquisitions should allow them to accomplish this easily. I don't think they've acquired anyone to give them the next Halo or Gears, but that probably wasn't the point of the acquisitions and it's only one of the more exciting moves the company has made in a long time.