Microsoft is definitely not done acquiring more game studios, says Xbox head Phil Spencer

Written by Stuart Thomas on Wed, Oct 20, 2021 12:07 PM
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Studio acquisitions are always a tricky subject, but there are certainly pros and cons to them. Microsoft has been on an acquisition frenzy lately, and most notoriously acquired one of the biggest studios in the gaming industry, Bethesda. But Xbox head Phil Spencer says they are “definitely not done” acquiring more studios.

In a recent interview, Phil Spencer was asked whether Xbox Game Studios was now complete after currently consisting of 23 different game development studios, or if there was room for more growth: “I’m really proud of some of the creators that have chosen to become part of Xbox,” Spencer said. “So many of these creators, they have choice.

If you look at some of the people we’ve acquired and partnered with, it’s people we’ve had long-term relationships with, and they’ve come inside of Xbox now and they see our roadmap on platform and service, and I want them to be able to do their most amazing creative work as part of this team.

Studio acquisitions have long had a history of disappointment in the gaming industry, most notably with EA who infamously used to shut down developers shortly after acquiring them and taking creative control away from the developers. But Xbox’s ethos is much different, and could help to sway public opinion at some point:

We offer some financial stability for them. It’s not about only the success of their next game. I want to give them some more creative capability, longer timelines when required to do their best work. And that’s my goal, we’re big believers in the power of content.” Spencer said. “So we’re always out there looking for people who we think would be a good match and teams that would be a good match with our strategy. So we’re definitely not done.

There’s no quota. There’s no kind of timeline where I have to go acquire studios by a certain time, but if we find a studio where we have a good fit, we share what we’re trying to go do and what they’re trying to go do, and if we feel we can both get better together, absolutely.

It’s clear that Microsoft wants to bolster the Xbox Game Pass service - especially with big hitters like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 - and acquiring studios to work under the Xbox Game Studios banner means more titles available on the service day one, growing it even more. More acquisitions are absolutely a part of that, but for now this seems like the future of gaming for Microsoft.

Spencer was also asked whether the acquired studios were required to change their identity in order to fit in with the Xbox ecosystem, like Bethesda, but Spencer stressed that “these relationships are really built on trust,” which certainly goes both ways for the studios and their audiences.

When I think about Bethesda – Bethesda’s great at being Bethesda. I don’t need Microsoft or Xbox to come in to help them be a better Bethesda than they were. I want to be listening. I want to be in listening mode with the creators, whether it’s Bethesda or Tim Schafer at Double Fine. I think about all of the creators at Playground building Forza Horizon 5.

There’s amazing teams out there and I want to be listening to those creators and getting the signal from them on what are they seeing, what are they trying to create and then challenging ourselves as a platform company – can we build the best platform for them – so that they feel like they can do their absolute best work.

And that’s an ongoing journey, right? It’s not a destination, it’s a journey. We’ll be on that journey for years, but having them be the best version of themselves. And not somehow, you know, all getting the kind of Xbox stamp. If they don’t want to, it’s fine – keeping them independent is great.

What do you think? Are these studio acquisitions a good thing for developers and players? Or do you still not trust there’s no influence from the parent company? How do acquisitions benefit and hinder developers? And how has Microsoft handled them recently? Let us know!

How well do you think Microsoft has handled studio acquisitions?

What do you think of the value for Xbox Game Pass?

Do you think Game Pass is good for players and developers?

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11:24 Oct-21-2021

Uncle Phil, could you also please acquire the rights to NOLF from the IP hell its stuck in between FOX and WB? I promise to be good this year.

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21:03 Oct-20-2021

The only complain I have about all of this is the horrible Xbox launcher on PC, at least for me. It usually !^%#s up game installations and leaves unused folders you can't even delete because you don't have permissions.


Other than that I think they're doing a good job at how they're handling Game Pass.


I also hope they don't go full monkey and start ruining gaming with exclusives on Xbox/PC only. I don't like when other platforms do that, so I don't want the only platform I use for gaming to do it as well...

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11:18 Oct-21-2021

yeah their launcher is pretty wonky. they really need to work on fixing up the UI

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18:42 Oct-20-2021

I think Microsoft did really stellar job with acquiring new studios and building Xbox as platform with Game Pass and everything. Also they did well with going pro-gamer, rather than maxing profits. While of course they didn't do everything right, the way they are doing it at least leaves it feel more like mistakes, rather than intentional cuts. So I do hope that trend continues.


With Game Pass as it is, it can be really great, since it allows people to have access to huge library for relatively small pay and even if you play few games it can pay back for itself easily. Especially since for a log of games most will only play through them once and that is it. Plus developer gets paid. And another benefit is that it also removes rush to most popular genres and stuff to appease as big audiences as possible. Instead it allows developers to focus more on doing something that is more niche or even experiment. Since Game Pass means that they will get paid at least something anyway. Though there are risks involved too, be it developers piggybacking off Game Pass, so not really trying to make something good. Plus there is question of sustainability at current price and potential of that price going up. But we can only speculate about negatives, as is Game Pass is great and can work to benefit both developers and gamers.


So I am really glad to see MS doing things like they are. Especially since them creating Xbox ecosystem means that they also bring that same incentive that Sony exclusives have to the PC. Because some of best games in previous generation were PS exclusives and that was because Sony had huge incentive to get as many system sellers made with no crap of modern AAA. So MS might be bringing some of that mentality to PC. Where likes of EA, Activision, Ubisoft,... really couldn't care less about what their crap means for PC as platform, as long as they can maximize profits. So hopefully MS continues good trend.

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17:22 Oct-20-2021

God of war Is coming on pc in January next year..check on steam

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14:42 Oct-20-2021

As long as there's no exclusivity that leaves PC out of the loop again - I'm fine with that. Though I'd still be on the side of caution - everyone can talk big and say the right things to appease the crowd, but actions are what's actually important, which will take time to show.


That being said - I hope this isn't a new fight between Microsoft and Sony, just as we start getting some PS exclusives on PC... It would suck if Sony did a u-turn on the PC releases, but I hope that they just follow the money that PC sales can generate, rather than start an exclusivity fight.

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12:27 Oct-20-2021

oh boy, ps fanboys will not like that.

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