Phil Spencer On Why Microsoft Is Pushing Beyond Consoles

The console market is limited in size--so Microsoft is going beyond them with its new streaming service.

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Microsoft has bold plans for its future in gaming. In addition to releasing the Xbox Series X this year, Microsoft is launching its game-streaming service, xCloud, to help reach a much bigger audience than the console market alone. In a new interview with GI.biz, Spencer spoke about this strategy and why it's essential to the company's plans to grow its gaming business in the future.

Spencer pointed out that Xbox Live is already in a good place with nearly 100 million monthly players across all platforms--including Xbox, PC, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android. People who play Minecraft on Nintendo Switch must create an Xbox Live account to play the game on Nintendo's console. PS4 Minecraft players don't need an Xbox Live account, but they must have one to use cross-play. Microsoft is one of the biggest publishers on PS4 thanks to Minecraft.

Looking further out, Spencer said xCloud is critical to helping Microsoft reach a wider audience. Simply put, the console market has a ceiling--only so many people can or want to buy a console. With xCloud, Microsoft is bringing Xbox to the billions of mobile devices around the world.

"We need to be on all the places where people might want to go play," he said. "And our xCloud strategy allows us to do that, where any place, any device that people might be able to play an Xbox game, we want to be able to deliver that."

"Consoles are, what, a 200-million unit market? It has its geographies where it is, but there are a lot of geographies where consoles are never going to be a dominant form of people playing," Spencer added. "And through technologies like cloud and xCloud, we're going to be able to take these games and deliver them to new players."

Spencer said Microsoft is having "really strong conversations" with the makers of various devices regarding support for xCloud, though he did not name any.

For game developers, this expansion into xCloud could prove to be a big deal because studios can build titles as they normally would, but now they can theoretically reach an audience that is factors of times larger than console/PC.

"For the creators, they just build the game that they were always just going to create on the platform that they've been building on for years, and yet find millions and millions of new customers," he said. "That is really exciting for the studios."

xCloud is currently in beta, but it's due to release more widely later this year. Additionally, Game Pass will be available through xCloud, so people can stream games from their libraries to their phones. For more on Xbox Game Pass and xCloud, check out GameSpot's feature, "Microsoft's Secret Weapon For Next-Gen Is Xbox Game Pass."

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