No "Xbox App" For Nintendo Switch, Phil Spencer Says
Microsoft is more focused on the web, PC, and mobile to grow its business; Spencer also says gaming can be too difficult and expensive for new players.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer wants to bring Xbox Game Pass and the overall Xbox ecosystem to more people than ever, but releasing an "Xbox app" on a rival console is not going to happen, at least not yet. Asked directly by GamesRadar if there would be an "Xbox app" for Nintendo Switch, as people have theorized, Spencer said Microsoft is more focused on growing Xbox on the web, PC, and mobile to meet its scale ambitions as opposed to putting Xbox on Nintendo Switch or another "closed" platform. In fact, Spencer pointed out that "those closed platforms don't want something like Game Pass" anyway.
"You know, it's the right question because people usually ask me about releasing one individual game or another. And what I say is I want the full Xbox experience to be something that we deliver," he said. "We have no plans to bring it to any other kind of closed platforms right now, mainly because those closed platforms don't want something like Game Pass. There's a ton of open platforms out there for us to grow in: the web, PC, and mobile. So all of our focus, frankly, is on those platforms."
While there might not be an Xbox app for Switch or PlayStation anytime soon, Spencer said he hopes to see even more connectedness between rival platforms through cross-play.
"For us to succeed, I don't think another company has to get smaller. I want the industry to continue to grow and accelerate its growth, and if you buy a Switch, and you want to play Minecraft, and I happen to buy my kids a PlayStation… if they can't play together, that doesn't help gaming grow, in my mind," he said. "That war might help one device win over another device, but it doesn't help the industry. I believe focusing on player joy, ease of play, and accessibility, in the long run, is the right strategy. And I think the industry will move in that direction, because that's what gamers will demand."
Another way Spencer hopes to see gaming in general grow in the future is by breaking down the traditional barriers that make it difficult for get started. Other entertainment mediums like film, TV, and books are generally easier and less expensive to get into compared to games, Spencer observed. With some games, on the other hand, it is generally difficult and expensive for newcomers to get started--and Spencer is hoping to change that.
"We should just all recognize that not everybody grew up with a controller in their hand," he said. "I don't envy movies, or TV, or books, but I think there is an accessibility that those media have. That is something that we should think about as an industry. Let's say I want to go play the next great console game. So I've got to go buy this console, I've got to go hook it up, I don't know how to use a controller--because I haven't done that before--so I'm gonna have to practice and learn.
"We think a lot about that accessibility point, and--not to bring it back to Game Pass--but some of that is financial, you know. These games are $70. That's a lot of money compared to these other artforms that we talk about."
In an effort to make Xbox more accessible to a bigger audience--Microsoft is targeting billions of people, after all--Xbox has announced it has partnered with TV manufacturers to put Xbox gaming options directly into TVs. Microsoft also recently announced it will create Xbox-branded streaming sticks that people can plug into a TV to play the latest games. In another effort to expand Xbox, Microsoft is working with telecom providers on "new purchasing models" like Xbox All Access that allow users to get a console (with Game Pass) for a monthly price instead of paying more up front. This is the model that has been popular and widespread for smartphones for many years.
To make this all worthwhile and valuable from a content perspective, Microsoft also recently announced that it plans to release at least one new first-party game every three months, which is to say nothing of the vast third-party support on Xbox.