Four Xbox exclusives heading to rivals in big shift

Four Xbox exclusives heading to rivals in big shift

The head of Microsoft's Xbox team says it is not changing its 'fundamental' strategy of exclusive video games but wants to reach as many players as possible with strategic decisions
The head of Microsoft's Xbox team says it is not changing its 'fundamental' strategy of exclusive video games but wants to reach as many players as possible with strategic decisions. Photo: ROBYN BECK / AFP
Source: AFP

Microsoft on Thursday shook up the video game world with word it is making some once-exclusive Xbox video games available for play on rival consoles.

Xbox head Phil Spencer did not specify which titles were expanding beyond the Xbox, but the Verge, citing unnamed sources, said they will be "Hi-Fi Rush", "Pentiment", "Sea of Thieves" and "Grounded."

"I do have a fundamental belief that over the next five or 10 years, games that are exclusive to one piece of hardware are going to be a smaller and smaller part of the game industry," Xbox head Phil Spencer said in a podcast.

In deciding to take four games to other consoles, Xbox did not decide to change its "fundamental exclusive strategy," Spencer said.

"Four games, no promise beyond that. So if you're on those other platforms, and you see these four games coming, please don't take it as some signal that everything's coming. It's not," he added.

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The move comes as Microsoft looks to boost Xbox sales that have lagged those of Sony PlayStation consoles, and to ramp up revenue from subscriptions to its cloud gaming service.

By putting its weight behind software and subscriptions, Xbox could be trying to match the success of streaming giant Netflix which upended the film and TV industry.

Microsoft makes Xbox consoles along with game software, with titles such as hit "Halo" exclusive to its hardware.

Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo have long competed to be the console of choice with exclusive blockbuster titles from their own studios or in deals with other game makers.

Outside studios, in contrast, typically seek to reach the broadest number of gamers with big-name titles playable on all consoles and Windows-powered computers.

Everlasting online games

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Video games have become cultural phenomenon on par with blockbuster films, raking in fortunes from legions of devoted fans whose ire can be fierce if play disappoints.

Xbox diehards may be alarmed by the end of exclusivity for some of the console's biggest games, pointing to Sega, which abandoned console making in the early 2000s, no longer able to compete with Sony and Nintendo.

Spending on video game content, hardware and accessories in the United States reached $57.2 billion in 2023, up just one percent from the previous year, according to market tracker Circana.

Money spent on video game hardware was $6.6 billion, essentially the same as in 2022, with PlayStation 5 sales offsetting declines of Xbox and Nintendo Switch purchases, Circana reported.

"Hogwarts Legacy", which is available on multiple platforms for play, was the top selling game of last year in the United States, Circana reported.

'Call of Duty'

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Since releasing the first PlayStation in 1994, Sony has grown into a titan of console gaming with Microsoft's Xbox emerging as its main challenger.

Revenue from subscriptions has grown with the growing trend of video games being played online with content and features routinely updated.

Sales from Xbox content and services was up 61 percent in the final three months of last year, driven mostly by Microsoft's acquisition of "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard, according to quarterly earnings figures.

Microsoft launched its blockbuster takeover in January 2022, an acquisition that made it the world's third-largest gaming company by revenue.

Microsoft is laying off 1,900 people, or eight percent of staff, from its gaming division as it consolidates the blockbuster buyout, the tech giant announced in January.

Spencer, said in a memo to employees that the company was committed to finding a "sustainable cost structure" to grow the gaming business.

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Source: AFP

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