Microsoft will bring four Xbox games to other companies’ consoles

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Phil Spencer, CEO of gaming at Microsoft, speaks during the company’s Xbox event ahead of the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on June 10, 2018.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Microsoft said on Thursday that it will release four of its video games on competing consoles.

Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s gaming division, said in a company video that the decision is “not a change to our kind of fundamental exclusive strategy.”

Nevertheless, the shift signals a willingness to generate more revenue from content that previously could only be played on Microsoft’s own gaming hardware.

Microsoft completed the acquisition of prominent video game publisher Activision Blizzard for over $75 billion in October. In the fiscal second quarter, 11% of revenue flowing into Microsoft, the world’s most valuable public company, was tied to gaming. The Game Pass service that provides access to multiple games now has 34 million subscribers, up from 25 million two years ago, the company said. But the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles, which became available in 2020, have not proven as popular as the Sony PlayStation 5 or the Nintendo Switch.

“We think this is an interesting point in time for us to use what some of the other platforms have right now to help grow our franchises, so we’re going to do that,” Spencer said in the video.

Microsoft declined to identify the titles in question, but Spencer said they won’t be Starfield, a long-awaited game that came out in September, or the forthcoming Indiana Jones and the Great Circle.

Spencer did say two of the four are “community-driven games,” while the other two are smaller titles that weren’t meant to be exclusive to Microsoft’s own systems.

The Verge reported last week that Microsoft was looking into releasing the Indiana Jones game, previously announced for Xbox and Windows, on Sony’s PlayStation 5 in addition to Microsoft’s own console and PC operating system. The title will come from Bethesda Softworks, a subsidiary of ZeniMax Media, which Microsoft acquired for $8 billion in 2021.

Many Xbox fans expressed frustration on social media, speculating that Microsoft will give up trying to keep exclusive games on its console in the future. Without special content that can’t be played elsewhere, some argued, there would be less of a reason to keep investing in Xbox hardware and software.

One day after the Verge article was published, Spencer wrote in a post on X, “We’re listening and we hear you. We’ve been planning a business update event for next week, where we look forward to sharing more details with you about our vision for the future of Xbox. Stay tuned.”

Earlier this week, The Verge reported that games such as Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment and Sea of Thieves would be coming to non-Microsoft consoles.

“I do have a fundamental belief that over the next five or 10 years, exclusive games, the games that are exclusive to one piece of hardware, are going to be a smaller and smaller part of the game industry,” Spencer said during the video appearance.

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