[UPD] New multi-platform strategy emerging inside Xbox as Microsoft plans to bring its first-party games to PS and Switch
Microsoft might change its strategy by turning its Xbox division into a multi-platform publisher. According to recent reports, the company plans to launch its first-party games on other consoles in the future.
Indiana Jones and the Great Circle
Microsoft’s first-party games could find a new home on rival platforms
UPDATE (February 6): Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer addressed the reports on social media, saying that the company will hold a business update event next week. “We’re listening and we hear you,” Spencer stated. “We’ve been planning a business update event for next week, where we look forward to sharing more details with you about our vision for the future of Xbox. Stay tuned.”
- As reported by The Verge, Microsoft is now deciding which games will remain exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem and which ones will appear on PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch.
- A source familiar with the company’s plans told the publication that the upcoming action title Indiana Jones and the Great Circle is expected to come out on PS5 months after its launch on Xbox Series X|S and PC.
- According to The Verge, Microsoft hasn’t yet finalized its new multi-platform strategy, so some details may change. But it is claimed that the company will announce Hi-Fi Rush for PS5 and Switch in the coming weeks.
- A separate report from XboxEra states that Microsoft plans to bring Starfield, its biggest release of 2023, to Sony’s platform, adding that the company has made “additional investment into PlayStation 5 dev kits to support ongoing development effort.”
- In January, several outlets reported that Microsoft was considering bringing some of its back-catalog titles to other platforms, including its live service hit Sea of Thieves. “Games with extensive post-launch support perform best when they reach a maximum number of players who might be tempted to spend money in them,” Stephen Totilo wrote at the time. “But Sea of Thieves arriving on PlayStation would also be a significant plot twist in the colorful relationship between two gaming giants.”
How did the industry react to Microsoft’s multi-platform strategy?
This doesn’t mean Microsoft plans to completely abandon Xbox as a hardware platform. But bringing its titles to new audiences could make sense given the slow growth of its gaming division — both in terms of content and console revenues.
As the company reported last week, Xbox hardware sales grew 3% year-over-year in Q2. Although its total gaming revenue increased by 49% thanks to the Activision Blizzard acquisition, the growth would have been only 5% without the addition of Call of Duty/WoW/Candy Crush to its revenue streams.
“To me it looks like Microsoft is changing their strategy to essentially become a mega publisher who just also happens to ship a console as a storefront / Game Pass access point,” analyst Benji-Sales wrote today. “It’s important to remember Satya Nadella sees Microsoft as a services driven company. To his mind the concept of locking games to platforms is probably counter intuitive.”
According to Circana executive director and video game industry analyst Mat Piscatella, the multi-platform strategy has a “ton of potential upside.” “Doesn’t mean it’ll necessarily work, but it isn’t the mid-2000s anymore. It isn’t just about the box,” he noted.
Some game developers also reacted to Microsoft’s reported shift to the multi-platform strategy. Michael Douse, director of publishing at Larian Studios, said it might be a good thing for both the company and gamers: “The more copies they can sell, the less risk and the more they can invest.”
“Let me give you some optimism: the fact that so many vocal & active Xbox players means there’s an audience. If there’s audience there’s opportunity. Your favourite ecosystem isn’t going anywhere, but strategies shift with the times to make sure the economics make sense.”