Xbox One's Parity Clause Meant to Make Owners Feel "First Class"

Phil Spencer discusses Microsoft's policy of requiring that indie games launch on Xbox One at the same time as on other platforms.

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Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has further elaborated on the purpose of Microsoft's controversial indie parity clause, which requires that indie games launch on Xbox One at the same time as other platforms, saying it's meant to make Xbox owners feel "first class."

"The thing I worry about is--because I look at all the people who buy an Xbox, and they invest their time and their money in Xbox One, and, as millions of people obviously own Xbox Ones, I want them to feel like they're first-class, because they are," Spencer said on The Inner Circle podcast. "When a third-party game comes out, it comes out on all platforms at the same time, and when indie games come out, I want them to come out and I want Xbox to feel like it's a first-class citizen when an indie game launches.

"So, for me, the parity thing is, if you own an Xbox One, I want to work for you to make sure that when great content launches, if it's coming to Xbox and another platform, that you kind of get it at the same time everybody else does," he continued.

"I don't want somebody to come in and just think 'I'm going to go do a special game on one platform and then I'll get to Xbox whenever I get to it,' because I don't think that's right."

The parity clause has been a contentious issue, with some developers speaking out against it and even Sony taking a shot at it. But Spencer insists it isn't a blanket, uncompromising policy that will negatively affect indie developers if it's simply a matter of them not having the resources to develop on multiple platforms at the same time.

"That said, I have a lot of friends that run small indie studios, and I get that timelines around when--they just can't get both games done at the same time, all three games, all four games, depending on how many platforms they're supporting," Spencer explained. "So I always just say, 'Let's have a conversation.' And it's worked; today, I think we've done a good job of working with the indies on, when they've had parity concerns, if it's just a dev issue for them."

If it isn't a matter of resources and a developer is making a conscience decision to favor other platforms over Xbox, that's where Spencer takes issue.

"But I don't want somebody to come in and just think 'I'm going to go do a special game on one platform and then I'll get to Xbox whenever I get to it,' because I don't think that's right," he said. "And I think, as Xbox One customers, we want good games when they come out on both platforms. But I also get that, hey, for some guys, they just can't afford the time to get both done, so we've just entered into conversations with people as they're launching, and I feel pretty good about the plan."

Despite that clear stance, it's possible things could be changing. Spencer's comments on the podcast resulted in new criticism of the parity clause on NeoGAF, among other places, a fact which was brought to his attention on Twitter. "I see the feedback on my stance on the clause, I want to rethink how we approach this, responses are heard," he said in response.

This is, of course, no guarantee that the parity clause is going away, but critics will no doubt be pleased that Spencer is at least entertaining the notion of making changes.

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