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Xbox Boss Talks About Importance Of First-Party Games, And Why Xbox Won't Copy PlayStation's Approach

"That's an area where we need to do more, and we've done that," Spencer said about beefing up Microsoft's exclusive games lineup.


Microsoft's Xbox team has in the past been criticized for a perceived lack of first-party exclusives compared to PlayStation and other competing platforms. But going forward, Xbox boss Phil Spencer doesn't believe that will be an issue. After acquiring studios like Obsidian, Double Fine, and Ninja Theory, and starting a new studio with the writer of Red Dead Redemption, Microsoft now has 15 Xbox Games Studios teams, all of which are developing content exclusively for Xbox and PC.

These studio acquisitions and formations came at no small expense, of course, and Spencer recently spoke about how this was made possible thanks to the leadership from Microsoft higher-ups believing in Spencer's vision.

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Now Playing: Halo Infinite Master Chief Trailer | Microsoft Press Conference E3 2019

"First-party content is really important to where we're going," Spencer said during a recent GameLab event. "It's important to our hardware platforms, it's important to things like Game Pass and our overall gaming strategy at Microsoft. As we got in place the new leadership team a few years ago, we started building our strategy and articulating our strategy internally to the company, it was really encouraging to see the support that we were getting from the board and the senior leadership team at the company to go and grow our first-party."

Spencer said he feels "really good" about its numerous internal game studios and the projects they are working on. He also teased that "many" of the company's upcoming games have not been announced yet.

Also during the event, Spencer said he does not want to try to copy a competitor's approach to first-party game development. Some people have spoken about PlayStation titles like Uncharted and God of War and asked Microsoft where its equivalent games are. Spencer said Microsoft is thinking differently.

"We know it's important--we know it's something that our fans want," Spencer said about developing first-party exclusives. "But I will also say we are going to create our first-party around the things that we feel like we need to do in order to stand up for Xbox. Sometimes we get suggestions of, 'Where's your X game?' or, 'Where's your Y game?' when people look at the other hardware platforms. But I don't think our goal is to replicate what other people have done. It doesn't help the industry to have people that are trying to do exactly the same thing with their platforms, services, or content."

While Microsoft won't try to directly copy the first-party strategies of Sony or Nintendo, Spencer said he feels confident that his teams are working on titles that will appeal to a broad range of players.

"I'm really proud of the diversity of content that our Xbox Games Studios teams are creating--genres, art styles, platforms, and gameplay," he said. "Single-player, multiplayer, cooperative work that's coming along. I'm just really proud of the diversity I'm seeing ... and I think that's going to continue. That's going to be a mainstay for us. It won't be about a certain kind of genre or a certain kind of story. The teams are really led by their own vision and what they want to build."

Overall, however, Spencer acknowledged that Microsoft did not do enough in the past as it relates to first-party game development. "That's an area where we need to do more, and we've done that [now]," he said.

Microsoft will showcase some of its first-party games, including Halo Infinite, during an event that is reportedly scheduled for July 23.

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