Microsoft’s first party lineup is looking significantly stronger than it was looking a year ago, but interesting questions still persist about what sort of an output it’s going to have in the coming years. We know that Microsoft intends for its studios – first and foremost – to make Game Pass an increasingly more attractive option for players, but is that all they’re going to be restricted to?
Recently, for instance, Cuphead came out on the Switch, and though developers Studio MDHR aren’t owned by Microsoft – and thus aren’t a first party studio – Cuphead very much is owned by Microsoft, and seeing it release on a non-Microsoft platform was a refreshing surprise. But the question is- might we see more of this in the future? According to Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios, it’s very much a possibility.
“I think we would,” said Booty when asked in an interview with Game Informer if, in a hypothetical scenario that one of their studios wanted to maintain a a multiplatform output, whether Microsoft would allow such a thing. “I think that the question is less binary about ‘should it be on Switch? Should it be on PlayStation?’ and more ‘does it make sense for the franchise?’ In other words, is it a kind of game where it would benefit from the network effect of being on a bunch of different platforms? Or is it a game where we can best support it by putting resources and making sure that our platforms – things like xCloud and Game Pass and Xbox Live, we’re really leaning in to support the game.”
Booty then brought up the example of Minecraft as an example, which is on both PlayStation and the Switch (among many, many others), and how it continues to b a multiplatform title even after developers Mahjong were acquired by Microsoft. Even the upcoming action RPG spinoff Minecraft Dungeons, in fact, is going to be a multiplatform release. He did, however, go on to say that Microsoft is still going to want to kep its major tentpole releases exclusive to its own systems.
“With something like Minecraft, I think it was a no-brainer that were never going to try to take anything away from players that existed on those platforms, and certainly we’ve added new platforms since that acquisition. But then, obviously, we’re going to have our big franchises like Forza and Halo and Sea of Thieves, where those games are designed from the outset to really exist on Xbox, and I think that will continue.”
Microsoft’s approach to first party content – and even something as broad as what they view as “success” in the industry – has been very non-traditional of late, and the idea of first party studios making games for other platforms is certainly an unfamiliar one- but also a very interesting one. It should be interesting to see how this change in philosophy defines Microsoft’s policies.
You can view the entire interview in question below. In the same interview, Booty also spoke of various other things, such as what we can expect from Halo Infinite, and what Microsoft expects from the newly-acquired Ninja Theory. Read more on both through the links.