Although the E3 expo is always a place for video game publishers and developers to showcase new games and projects, it’s also a great place for industry heads to talk about exactly where video games are heading. This year, Phil Spencer took the time to discuss the Xbox One X, but also talked about issues with console-exclusive skins, characters, and items.
During an interview with GameSpot as part of the E3 2017 proceedings, Spencer stated that he wants to ensure that games are best on the Xbox One X, but was then queried on how it would be possible to give a greater frame rate for Xbox One X software when companies sign preferential deals with other platforms. Spencer was characteristically straightforward in his reply, stating that “if anyone was to do a deal to hold back technical innovation on a video game anywhere else, that doesn’t feel good for the industry to me.”
Spencer then expanded on this matter, moving on to the subject of exclusive items within games. “I’m not one who’s a fan of going out and doing deals so a certain skin isn’t playable on a different platform,” the Xbox chief stated, going on to say that there would be no such deals with Microsoft and third-party games. “The deals that we do now – and you saw our third-party relationships on stage with Shadow of War, with Assassin’s [Creed Origins] – you’re not going to hear them say anything about, say, a certain character who’s not playable.”
There have been a few games confirmed over the course of E3 2017 that have included specific perks on a particular console, with two notable examples being Skyrim for Switch’s Legend of Zelda content and Rocket League Switch’s Nintendo-themed hats. However, with both of those games coming to the console after plenty of time on the market, it’s unlikely to be much of a bugbear.
Instead, Spencer’s issue may well be with the likes of Watch Dogs and Destiny, with both games offering up PS3/PS4-exclusive items at launch, with Watch Dogs including exclusive missions and Destiny offering up a wealth of extra content to PlayStation users at launch. That’s not to say that Xbox has never used this strategy, either, as shown by the Xbox One exclusive cars for Rocket League.
That said, removing the issue of console exclusive content in cross-platform games would certainly be seen as a positive by some, so hopefully Xbox will steer clear of this practice in future. However, there are some other strategies that may be good for Microsoft to try and combat, such as the console launch parity clause that independent developers find difficult to adhere to.