It appears as if Microsoft could be going with the brave move of launching the Xbox Series X with no launch exclusive games whatsoever. Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, has said the plan is for first-party games to run across the entire family of Xbox devices.
That means, for the next few years at least, that Xbox Series X titles will also all be playable on older Xbox One devices.
“As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices,” Booty said to MCV. “We want to make sure that if someone invests in Xbox between now and [Series X] that they feel that they made a good investment and that we’re committed to them with content.”
Rewind a few generations and there was a hard split between the generations. PlayStation 2 launch games were much exclusive to the console, for example, and the PSone was swiftly turfed out. Since then the lines have blurred somewhat though, with the jump from PS3 to PS4and Xbox 360 to Xbox One taking a couple of years with cross-gen releases for multiplatform titles. Crucially though, both Sony and Microsoft’s first-party titles were universally exclusive to the new consoles. After all, they both needed a definitive reason for us to upgrade.
This is all changing right here though. Microsoft isn’t even thinking about first-party exclusive games at launch, relying entirely on the hardware improvements to sell the console. This ensures no one’s left behind in the short term and it also lessens the pressure on third-party publishers to push Xbox Series X exclusive titles for a tiny install base.
It’s an intriguing proposition but a risky one. Exclusive games tend to be the driver of console sales and without them Microsoft is relying entirely on the narrative regarding better performance to shift consoles off store shelves. I’m not entirely convinced that messaging is going to work well beyond the die-hard early adopters. If Halo Infinite is perfectly playable on an Xbox One S is it really worth the average gamer spending $500 for a visual upgrade? Tough to say.
“Our approach is to pick one or two IP that we’re going to focus on and make sure that they’re there at the launch of the console, taking advantage of all the features,” continued Booty.
“And for us that’s going to be Halo Infinite, which is a big opportunity. It’s the first time in over 15 years that we’ll have a Halo title launching in sync with a new console. And that team is definitely going to be doing things to take advantage of [Series X].”
What it does mean is that all first-party titles, for the first few years at least, are going to be hamstrung by the capabilities of the lowest common denominator - 2013’s original Xbox One. That could prove limiting in terms of genuinely original gameplay ideas.
But, the upshot is Microsoft doesn’t just abandon a huge install base in one fell swoop. There are 50 million Xbox One gamers and this ensures they can all play Microsoft’s upcoming games.
What are your thoughts on this one then, do you think this is the right move from Microsoft? Or should it cut the Xbox One family off to focus entirely on next-gen titles? Let us know why below!