Phil Spencer, who is at the helm of Microsoft’s gaming division, is geared up to share Microsoft’s “vision for the future of Xbox” on Thursday, 15th of February. This revelation will be disseminated through a podcast scheduled to be aired on all platforms at 9pm Italian time. A certain buzz has been circulating for a while now, hinting that Microsoft might be planning to roll out some of its Xbox console exclusives on PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. If these rumors turn out to be true, it will represent a major shift in the gaming industry’s landscape. Spencer acknowledged these rumors in the previous week, pledging to elucidate Xbox’s future strategy. The gaming community is on the edge of their seats in anticipation, and the choice of a podcast as the medium for the announcement has triggered surprise and, in certain instances, dissatisfaction among Xbox devotees. They perceive this as a kind of “betrayal” after years of loyalty to Microsoft’s gaming console.
Over recent years, Microsoft has been demonstrating an increasing interest in broadening its footprint in the gaming realm. It has been acquiring reputed game developers like Obsidian, Bethesda, and Activision Blizzard and focusing on expanding its Game Pass subscription. When it came to acquiring approval for the purchase of Activision, Microsoft had to assure that the Call of Duty series would not turn into an Xbox exclusive. This clearly shows that Microsoft’s ambitions in game development supersede those related to hardware. Conversely, Microsoft’s decision to not make the much-awaited Starfield from Bethesda available on PlayStation 5 post the studio’s acquisition highlighted that Microsoft is still prepared to play the exclusivity game. The potential shift towards PlayStation could be perceived as a strategic realignment in response to dwindling enthusiasm for certain titles and the necessity to attract new subscribers to Game Pass.
The gaming industry has previously witnessed similar changes. Sony started to publish exclusive PlayStation titles on PC, and Microsoft has been making its Xbox exclusive titles available on this platform for several years. This trend indicates a mounting convergence amongst various gaming platforms in an era where the boundaries between console, PC, and mobile gaming are progressively getting blurred. The announcement scheduled for Thursday is not just about the future trajectory of Xbox or potential new alliances between consoles. It is also indicative of Microsoft’s transformation into a behemoth in the gaming industry. This status is validated by its recent spree of acquisitions. However, it has also faced challenges such as the recent layoffs of 1,900 gaming employees, a significant portion of whom were from Activision Blizzard, and the termination of titles that have been under development for many years.