Xbox Chief: Exclusives Aren’t the Future, Pay No Attention To All These Exclusives

from the say-what-now? dept

Xbox’s management team’s inability to put out a clear public message regarding exclusive titles is becoming a real thing. When the season of acquisitions kicked off last year and Microsoft bought up Zenimax/Bethesda studios, the muddled messaging began. First were conflicting statements over the exclusivity of those studios’ titles, then came Microsoft saying those titles would be “first/better” on Xbox, before finally landing on at least one title from Bethesda going as an Xbox exclusive. The confused messaging continued after Microsoft announced it was looking to acquire Activision Blizzard, with some vague messaging about how that studio’s games would be handled.

And so here we are, with the Xbox folks saying lots of words about not really being into exclusives while churning out exclusives. And amidst all of that, just to keep things as confusing as possible, is Xbox chief Phil Spencer saying again that exclusives aren’t really part of Microsoft’s vision for the console.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, recently described the progress of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard as heading in a “positive direction,” as the company awaits regulatory approval of the deal that would see it owning wildly popular franchises such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. He also believes that we’re likely to see exclusives play “less and less” of a role in the console space moving forward. These comments come after Xbox recently acquired Bethesda Softworks—making upcoming, highly anticipated games like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI console-exclusive to Xbox—and seeks to finalize the aforementioned Activision deal.

Now, we could take Spencer at his word and assume that Microsoft has some plan to ween itself off exclusivity. But I’m not sure how that makes any sense. For one thing, why the need for the weening at all? If Xbox doesn’t believe in exclusivity as a business philosophy, then don’t plan to make these new titles, which won’t come out any time in the very near future, exclusive. What’s the problem?

Add to that how the public has been conditioned to not take Spencer at his word, and it leaves me wondering why anyone wouldn’t assume that Spencer’s statement will soon transform into something that leaves more room for exclusive titles. That is what has happened every step of the way thus far.

Spencer touched on a variety of topics, including the company’s recent moves to acquire Activision Blizzard, the scrutiny of Activision’s documented culture of sexual harassment, the unionization efforts seen at Activision, and how he believes that the very concept of exclusives is due to go the way of the dinosaur.

But again, all the current actions by Microsoft amount to them roaring at the sky and waving tiny arms like a T-Rex. So why can’t Spencer just put out a transparent message, whatever the truthful message might be?

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Companies: microsoft

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Comments on “Xbox Chief: Exclusives Aren’t the Future, Pay No Attention To All These Exclusives”

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Moby (profile) says:


Exclusives”are” dying but not as quickly as MS would pretend. And I think they are probably speaking double speak even internally right now. The half that sees the writing on the wall with streaming and GP are plowing full steam ahead. (See what I did there) The other half are stuck on the idea exclusives sell consoles. They can’t help themselves…

While MS is making all the right moves right now, I doubt anyone thinks they’ve become so magnanimous as to share all their games cross platform without tying them to their subscription service.

The regulators need to keep it so they are forced to share and we can all benefit from the death of exclusives.

Naughty Autie says:

These comments come after Xbox recently acquired Bethesda Softworks—making upcoming, highly anticipated games like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI console-exclusive to Xbox—and seeks to finalize the aforementioned Activision deal.

Like Winblows, Xblock has an always online requirement. Guess which games I’m definitely not going to be playing, Micro$hit? Fucking fools.

Thad (profile) says:

I can see why they’d want to de-emphasize exclusives right now — because as far as I can tell, exclusives are really the only advantage the PS5 has over the Xbox Series. AIUI the Series has better hardware at a lower price and isn’t suffering from the same kind of supply issues the PS5 is. And Sony charges extra to play last-gen games on a new-gen console; Microsoft doesn’t. And on top of all that, there’s whatever confusing nonsense Sony’s doing with PSN.


There’s a reason I bought a PS4 over an Xbox One. And that’s Sony’s exclusives. I’ve enjoyed the hell out of Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn, and I’m sure I’ll get around to God of War and Ghost of Tsushima one of these days. I’m simply more interested in Sony’s exclusives than MS’s. And whatever else a console has going for it, the games are the most important thing.


Sony’s ramping up PC releases — God of War, Spider-Man, and Horizon Zero Dawn are already out, and I’d be very surprised if they don’t announce a Ghost of Tsushima port within the next year. The more I look at the PS5, the more I think “What does this have that I won’t be able to get on PC?”

I don’t know that I’m done with consoles. But I think I’ll probably sit this generation out. As weird a sentence as this is to type, Linux has everything I need for gaming.

melonlord (profile) says:

Microsoft is cornering the streaming/subscription market with Gamepass, a far superior product to PS Plus due to Microsoft’s immense resources, and swallowing up game studios with mindbogglingly huge acquisitions. Sony has responded by acquiring studios of its own, though nowhere near as many and with nowhere near as much money.

Exclusives are absolutely awful for consumers and, in the long run, so is this new trend of vertical integration (even if it results in lower prices right now). Combined with the trend towards digital “ownership” that companies can snatch away at any time… just bad news all around.

LostInLoDOS (profile) says:

What are we worrying about?

It’s a serious question.

There’s only three non-of platforms of value today. Xbox, Switch, and one that is solely an emulator.

Oh, there’s also the other Japanese company that censors art and stifles creativity. But I won’t discuss them.

I don’t know how much of these two publishers put stuff out on the switch. The publisher isn’t what makes me buy or play a game. And I’d honestly be unlikely to be able to match a publisher to a title if it’s not old iD or or GTi games.

But Microsoft already does, and is adding to, Publish on PC as well. So I’m missing something.

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