If many of the new members of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios roster already had new multiplatform games in the pipeline before being acquired by Microsoft, the Redmond giant has just confirmed that it doesn’t plan to release new first-party games on other platforms going forward. in a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, a Microsoft spokesperson explained that Xbox Game Studios teams will be focused on developing games for Microsoft’s own platforms, which include the Xbox One, the next-gen “Project Scarlett” Xbox console, and Windows.
"The past year has been an exciting time for us as we have more than doubled the internal creative teams making up Xbox Game Studios," The company stated. "As these new studios transitioned in, we were aware of some existing commitments to other platforms and will honor them. However, going forward these new studios will focus on making games for our platforms. We have no plans to further expand our exclusive first party games to other consoles. We continue to believe deeply in cross play and progression of games with the right flexibility for developers to insure a fair and fun experience."
If we believe this statement, it seems that we won’t see another huge cross-platform first-party game like Minecraft anytime soon. However, the situation may be different for third-party Xbox Game Studios titles, as we’ve just seen Ori and the Blind Forest being announced for the Nintendo Switch.
Anyway, the timing of this announcement is quite interesting as Sony has just hinted earlier this week that it could release some of its future first-party games on PC. In an interview with Bloomberg, Shawn Layden, Chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios, said that sticking to PlayStation exclusive games may not always make sense if Sony wants to reach the biggest possible audience for its in-house games.
“We must support the PlayStation platform -- that is nonnegotiable,” Layden said. “That said, you will see in the future some titles coming out of my collection of studios which may need to lean into a wider installed base.”
It’s also worth noting that several third-party PlayStation exclusive games such as Detroit: Become Human, Beyond two Souls, and Heavy Rain (all from French developer Quantic Dream) are all coming to Windows this year. These three games are all launching first on the Epic Games Store, which is quite big win for Epic.
Microsoft has also released some its third-party Xbox Game Studios titles on Steam in recent years including ReCore, Super Lucky’s Tale, or Sunset Overdrive. First-party titles such as Gears 5 and Age of Empires 2: DE will also be available on Steam later this year.
Having high-quality console exclusive games remains a great way to sell console units, and it's clear that great single player games such as God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4, and Marvel's Spiderman really helped Sony take the lead during this console generation. Microsoft didn't reach the same level of success with its recent Xbox exclusive games, but the software giant is now favoring engagement over game sales. That's why new Xbox Game Studios titles are available on day one on Xbox Game Pass, with many of them shipping simultaneously on Xbox One and Windows 10.
It would be surprising to see Sony no longer playing its PlayStation exclusives card during the next console generation, but the company also has its own game streaming service with PlayStation Now. However, not all of Sony's first party games are available on it as of today, and the service is currently only available on the PlayStation 4 and Windows.