It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Xbox that’s had fans questioning the state of Microsoft’s console gaming business. First, there was news of a 30 percent drop in Xbox hardware revenue, followed by the CMA’s decision to block Microsoft’s giant $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard acquisition, and topped off by Redfall launching earlier this week to a very lukewarm reception.
When you combine all of this with a quiet year of Xbox releases in 2022, Xbox fans are wondering when Microsoft is going to deliver a slew of triple-A games like we saw with the Xbox 360 generation.
“We’re not in the business of out console-ing Sony or out console-ing Nintendo,” says Xbox chief Phil Spencer in an interview with Kinda Funny Games. Spencer said something similar to The Verge in 2019, with Microsoft’s gaming strategy focused across Xbox, PC, cloud, and mobile, not just consoles anymore. Spencer doesn’t think that just building great games is enough to win in console anymore:
“I see the commentary that if you just build great games everything will turn around. It’s just not true that if we go off and build great games all of a sudden you’re going to see console share shift in some dramatic way. We lost the worst generation to lose in the Xbox One generation, where everybody built their digital library of games. We want our Xbox community to feel awesome, but this idea that if we just focused more on great games on our console that somehow we’re going to win the console race doesn’t really lay into the reality of most people. There is no world where Starfield is an 11 out of 10 and people start selling their PS5s, that’s not going to happen.”
Spencer is probably right here, but Microsoft’s challenges with Halo Infinite and Redfall have fans worried about some of its biggest titles that are designed for Xbox fans and Xbox Game Pass. After all, when Microsoft spent $7.5 billion on Bethesda, it was all about “delivering great exclusive games” for Xbox Game Pass.
“I’m upset with myself,” admits Spencer, discussing the Redfall launch with Kinda Funny Games. “The critical response was not what we wanted.” While he praises the developers at Arkane, Spencer admits that “the team didn’t hit their own internal goals when it launched.”
All eyes are now on Starfield, with Microsoft confirming this week that it will show off new gameplay during its Starfield Direct event on June 11th. After a controversy around a lack of a 60fps mode for Redfall, Spencer also says Xbox will make it clear to fans this summer about whether Starfield will have its own 60fps mode on console.
So what’s the future for Xbox right now?
“The console is the core of the Xbox brand, there’s no doubt,” says Spencer. “We’ll stay focused on making sure that console experience is awesome, but I know some people want to hold us up as being a better green version of what the blue guys do, and I’m just going to say there’s not a win for Xbox by staying in the wake of somebody else. We have to go off and do our own thing with Game Pass, the stuff we do with xCloud, and the way we build our games.”