Amid big rumors, Phil Spencer will discuss 'the future of Xbox' in a podcast this week
Is the console war finally cooling down? We'll know more on Thursday.
Rumor has it that Microsoft plans to release at least some of its Xbox console exclusives on PlayStation 5. This Thursday, we'll find out if it's true.
Microsoft gaming boss Phil Spencer acknowledged the rumors last week and announced that he'd reveal Microsoft's "vision for the future of Xbox" this week. We've now learned that the reveal is going to happen on the Official Xbox Podcast this Thursday, February 15.
A podcast feels a bit low key as a venue for such a hotly anticipated chat; some Xbox diehards are apoplectic over the idea that they're being betrayed after years of loyalty to Microsoft's console. Maybe the rumors have overblown the amount of change coming, or maybe Spencer and company hope to downplay it.
Bringing Xbox games to new platforms does seem like a likely move to me. In recent years, Microsoft has focused on buying popular and prestigious game developers—Obsidian, Bethesda, Activision Blizzard—and growing its Game Pass subscriber base. To get the Activision buyout done, it appeased regulators in part by pledging not to make Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive series, so it's already put its game development aspirations ahead of its hardware aspirations in one instance.
Microsoft did withhold Bethesda's Starfield from the PlayStation 5 after buying the studio, but I could see it relenting as enthusiasm for the sci-fi RPG dies down and it stops attracting new Game Pass subscribers.
The PC, of course, already won the console wars, as we've previously joked (but also meant kind of seriously). Microsoft started releasing all its Xbox console exclusives on PC years ago now, and more recently started releasing them on Steam instead of just the annoying Microsoft Store. And although it still often puts months or years between its console and Windows releases, Sony also started releasing PlayStation exclusives on PC. The PlayStation-published Helldivers 2 is doing great on Steam right now. Nintendo is the only holdout.
Still, Microsoft's power in the industry makes Thursday's announcement relevant to everyone. The consequences of its game studio acquisition spree are still playing out, and the recent news has been bad: Microsoft just laid off 1,900 gaming employees, many from Activision Blizzard, and canceled a survival game that had been in development at Blizzard for years.
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