If it’s one thing that Sony has used to leverage itself against its main competitor in this generation of consoles, it’s been their crazy good first party line up. There’s, of course, many reasons they were able to pull ahead to the degree they did (arguably the messaging and pricing of the original Xbox One launch was the biggest). But a pretty stark contrast developed between the two consoles in that regard. This isn’t just internet fanboy flame wars, either, the head of Xbox himself sees it, too.
In a lengthy, and surprisingly frank, interview with Fortune, Spencer talked about various aspects of Microsoft’s gaming business. When it came to the first party output over the last few years, he was pretty blunt in saying that it’s just not been the best, and that it’s something they need to strive to do better in.
“And I think the power of content, I see it every day, the things that people come to Xbox…very few people turn on their Xbox to stare at the dashboard. People turn on their Xbox to go play games, and I think us having a strong first party Xbox means when I think about Xbox, I’m going to think about quality games. We have work to do there. We haven’t done our best work over the last few years with our first party output.”
While I would hesitate to say the first party output from Microsoft has been bad per say, they really didn’t have a breakout hit from either a new IP or established franchise this generation (the closest is maybe Sea of Thieves, but even that had a pretty rocky start). While I personally enjoyed the last entries in the Halo and Gears of War series, it’s hard to deny they saw quite the drop in market share compared to last gen. With a lot of new studio acquisitions, a big focus on streaming and subscriptions, and ambitious entries in classic franchises, it will be interesting to see what kind of games they’ll come up with to reserve course going forward.