What will Microsoft do with the Xbox?
Instruction Set, 2024/2/12
Welcome back to Multicore. This is Instruction Set for the week of February 12, 2024, which was National Foundation Day here in Japan. Well, actually it was a make-up public holiday because National Foundation Day itself fell on Sunday. We displayed our patriotism by taking Pascal to a dog-friendly café, since he is a National Monument of Japan.
Anyway, let us begin.
Last week saw a wave of rumours about the Xbox platform and subsequent consternation from its community. Varying reports said that previously Xbox (and PC)-exclusive titles such as Hi-Fi Rush, Sea of Thieves, and Starfield might be making their way to other platforms like the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 5.
This predictably did not go down well with some of the most deeply online people who’d spent hundreds of dollars on Xbox consoles. Some wondered whether Microsoft would be getting out of Xbox hardware altogether. Microsoft’s Xbox chief Phil Spencer said all would be revealed this week.
We're listening and we hear you. We've been planning a business update event for next week, where we look forward to sharing more details with you about our vision for the future of Xbox. Stay tuned.
This morning, Microsoft confirmed that this business update will take the form of a podcast, for some reason. It’ll be released on Thursday.
The Verge’s Tom Warren reported yesterday that Tango Gameworks’ Hi-Fi Rush and Obsidian Entertainment’s Pentiment will be the first games to appear on “rival consoles”, with Rare’s Sea of Thieves following. Other titles are said to be under consideration; Warren himself reported last week that Bethesda Softworks’ in-development Indiana Jones game is “tentatively set to launch” on the PS5.
There’s not much point in speculating on the details when the reveal is so close. But I don’t think exclusive games have been a good reason to buy Xbox consoles for a long time. Microsoft has also actively been driving people away from that notion by focusing on Game Pass, cloud streaming, and PC interoperability.
And despite getting its staggering Activision Blizzard acquisition over the line, a huge reason Microsoft was able to do so was by guaranteeing that Call of Duty would remain on the PlayStation and elsewhere. This will, of course, ultimately make Microsoft a lot more money. But at that point, why not take $70 for Starfield from a few million PS5 owners as well?
I understand why console-only players who prefer the Xbox ecosystem might be taken aback, of course. For me, though, the main reason I own an Xbox Series X and S is native access to Game Pass and Microsoft’s impressive library of backwards-compatible software. A PS5 version of Hi-Fi Rush wouldn’t change anything about that, because I’d still just play it on Game Pass.
Let’s wait to see — or hear, I suppose — what’s actually happening. Multicore is, of course, most interested in any hints to the future hardware story.