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Xbox Podcast Was Fair and Focussed – But It Was Too Late

Four Xbox will come to PlayStation, Game Pass will continue getting day one releases and the next Xbox will be the “biggest generational leap yet”. Those were all announcements at the Xbox business update podcast, and it was fair and well-explained.


And while they stopped short of saying which four Xbox games would be jumping ship – pun intended – they also refused to rule out future releases. This is testing the waters.

It’s still a risk that they’ve not fully explained. Should a PlayStation owner buy an Xbox this year for Indiana Jones and Hellblade 2? Or should they hold off on the chance that in coming years they will come to the other console? This was not sufficiently addressed tonight. Xbox will be the only place with Game Pass, and games will be Xbox first. But is that enough for a wider Xbox audience? It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

But Phil Spencer, Sarah Bond and Matt Booty gave good reasons this is happening. Reasons we already know, but it was nice to see it said out loud. AAA development is difficult, and getting more difficult. Players can be nickel and dimed, or they can look for new audiences. They have chosen the latter.

Exclusivity will be a thing of the past, Spencer said. He even gave a timeline: within ten years. That’s probably almost definitely true, and something I’m going to write more on next week. But it’s nice to see it said out loud by someone in a major position of power within the big 3 console makers.

As PlayStation is also looking to go harder on its multiplatform efforts, it really is probably a matter of time.

Xbox and Time

Talking of time – my other point about this whole debacle stands up completely. This took too long to put together.

I can agree with everything they said, and understand the issues they’re trying to figure out. It’s been plain as anything for over a decade now, if you’ve been paying attention. But the doubt this last couple of weeks has done damage to the brand. More than not being more concrete on the releases, allowing people to speculate that it was everything (and that it still could be), and that Game Pass is massively changing is going to be hard to come back from.

Part of this will be obvious. It’ll be snarky comments under every Xbox post about whether it’ll be coming to PlayStation. That shouldn’t have an effect, but it will.

But it’ll also go deeper than that. Xbox, as a brand, is terrible at marketing itself. People who’ve played games all their lives still don’t fully get Game Pass, or even additional things within the Xbox ecosystem like cloud saves.

Anything that helps people get off message or creates confusion about what these things offer has the potential to ruin that image. The issue would’ve been far less damaging if this conversation was had a week ago.

Overall, I think Xbox has come out of this looking good. They won’t please everybody. But the message is clear: Xbox is here to stay.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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