Microsoft expecting an "army of huge franchises" at E3

Xbox boss says gamers have a lot to look forward to from this year's industry event.

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Between Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, and Activision, there will be an "army of huge franchises" to look forward to from this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. That's according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who made the comment to GameSpot in an interview from the Game Developers Conference last week discussing the overall health of the AAA business.

So far in 2014 "bad" news has abounded. BioShock creator Irrational Games announced that it is effectively closing down, Sony cut numerous jobs at God of War developer Sony Santa Monica, Thief developer Eidos Montreal laid off 27 people a week after release, and just this week Sony eliminated jobs at multiple UK studios.

"I think at this year's E3 between us and EA and Activision, Sony, and Nintendo, you're going to see another army of huge franchises coming" -- Spencer

Spencer said he doesn't know the specifics of every situation, but maintains that the AAA game business remains a successful enterprise and this will become clear when E3 rolls around this summer.

"I don't think it's a reflection of the vibrancy of the industry," Spencer said, referencing the news discussed above. "If you look at attach rate on the consoles right now, people investing in the great new AAA IP, it's great. I think at this year's E3 between us and EA and Activision, Sony, and Nintendo, you're going to see another army of huge franchises coming."

News about downsizing is more a reflection of the size and scope of AAA games today, Spencer said. As part of the normal development cycle for big-budget games, studios staff up and then shed employees when they are not needed. This not not atypical, he said.

Spencer said no one bats an eye when jobs are cut during the development of major movies because this ebb and flow is standard operating procedure. He told us that over time, he expects video game development to evolve to a point where development practices and procedures become more normalized.

"I think the model for how studios deal with that peak and valley is still evolving," he said.

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