Forza Horizon 4
Developer: Playground Games
Platforms: Xbox One, PC, Xbox Series X
“We need to use those franchises as a home base from which we can expand. That strength lets us branch out and take risks with them.”
Microsoft’s big problem with their first party is that they imbibe the worst of Sony and Nintendo- they stick with the same handful of franchises, but they are very safe with them, so you get the same few brands redone over and over, with the same style of gameplay. Which can… get tiring after a while.
But it seems like Microsoft wants to change that going forward. Speaking to MCVUK, Matt Booty, the new head of first party games for Microsoft and Xbox, has confirmed that the company is looking at branching out a bit with its core brands, but that they need to do it very carefully.
“We’re very lucky to have a number of established franchises,” Booty said. “When you think about Minecraft, Halo and Forza, each has over a decade or almost a decade of foundation underneath them. We need to use those franchises as a home base from which we can expand. That strength lets us branch out and take risks with them.
“With games being as large as they are, with the move to games as an ongoing service… It is difficult to pivot quickly and try to chase after trends that might happen even on the scale of a year. In business terms a year can be a long time, but development time being three to four years these days, that’s the span we need to think about. We’ve got to get our strategic long-term bets, our game development cycles and the things our players like to do in sync. And that will set us up for success.”
I appreciate the whole idea, of course- but the thing is, they need to try and look at making games beyond just those brands, and they need to try and make discrete games again. Booty says Microsoft won’t chase trends, but that is all they seem to have done in the last few years- meanwhile, Sony and Nintendo have moved from strength to strength, thanks to them making unique games that play up their strengths, and not necessarily giving in to larger market trends. That is, really, what Microsoft needs to do, too.