Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming and the head of the Xbox brand, gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal recently talking about what’s in store for Xbox. He admitted the console is at a crossroads: Game Pass isn’t growing. The console doesn’t have many first-party games. And it’s purchasing other popular video game developers to get access to their intellectual properties and make those games exclusive to the console. So what is the future of the Xbox? Let’s see.
What Is The Future Of The Xbox? Increasing Its Exclusive Game Library
Phil Spencer admitted in the interview that the Xbox doesn’t have many exclusive games like its competitors Nintendo and Sony PlayStation. Thus, there’s not a big push to purchase the Xbox Series S/X unless a person wants to play Halo.
This was one of the reasons Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media and its publisher Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion over two years ago. (They completed the purchase in March 2021.) Bethesda Softworks develops many popular series like Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, Wolfenstein, and more. This purchase was not only historic for the entire Video Game Industry, but also setup the Xbox console with exclusive high-profile games. The most anticipated out of the bunch being Starfield, which will only release on the Xbox console and PC. Unfortunately, there isn’t a release date for the game anymore after its delay earlier this year. However, that hasn’t dampened the hype for the game. And it appears Phil Spencer is willing to allow Bethesda time to perfect the game.
As with the ZeniMax Media purchase, Microsoft is trying to do the same by purchasing Activision Blizzard. That purchase, announced in January 2022, is facing more scrutiny, however. And Phil Spencer welcomes it. Sony’s concerns about making certain games (like Call of Duty) exclusive only to the Xbox will put the console in an advantageous position. However, to Xbox’s defense the PlayStation has far more exclusive games than the Xbox. Besides Sony discussing its concerns, so are gamers and other game developers. Microsoft has the money to gobble up other game developers, and this could change the gaming landscape for the worse. With less third-party game developers comes less competition. And less competition usually means worse outcomes for consumers.
As of writing this article the Activision Blizzard deal is still undergoing investigation by various countries around the world. The deal is scheduled to complete sometime in 2023 if everything works out well.
What Is The Future Of The Xbox? Mobile Gaming
Phil Spencer wants to extend Xbox’s reach with mobile gaming. One of the publishers in the Activision Blizzard deal is King, which is know for it’s popular free-to-play games like Candy Crush and Bubble Witch Saga. By purchasing the developer, Xbox now gets access to King and its knowledge of the mobile gaming world. Thus, they can use that to bring their other popular titles to mobile games.
In addition to King, Blizzard has experience with mobile gaming. They released Diablo Immortal earlier this year and the game is doing well despite its limited free-play model. And the developer is going to release Warcraft Arclight Rumble, another free-to-play mobile game.
We know that mobile gaming is quite lucrative for its developers. That’s why there are reports Phil Spencer wants its own Genshin Impact-like game for the Xbox. Genshin Impact made $3.7 billion dollars since its release two years ago. Seeing how much money there is in mobile gaming is another reason why Phil Spencer is trying to bring it to the Xbox.
What Is The Future Of The Xbox? Higher Prices
What is the future of the Xbox when it comes to its console and its games? Higher prices.
Phil Spencer said in the Wall Street Journal interview that customers can see higher prices for the Xbox and its products in the future. If that happens the company joins Sony, which raised the price of the PlayStation 5 in various countries this year. And the company is now charging $70 for its first-party games.
Microsoft tried to increase the price of Xbox Live Gold early last year but backed off when customers complained. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company tries to increase the price next year along with the price of Game Pass. They can use the excuse of inflation that every other company is currently using.
What is the future of the Xbox in my opinion? If the console can release more first-party games then I believe its popularity will grow. There are many underused IPs at the moment, such as Perfect Dark, Killer Instinct, and Gears of War to name a few. Fans want these games to return and I believe Phil Spencer should get a developer to work on them. As for Game Pass, it’s been the biggest reason to purchase a console or a PC subscription. To increase its growth it needs more high-profile first-party games or exclusive games. Really, I think games is the key to Xbox’s future. Without it the console will dwindle in popularity.