The Xbox One did not have the best start as its pricing and focus on entertainment turned potential consumers off. Microsoft has tried to correct that though, as the company slashed the Xbox One’s RRP by $150. This strategy appears to be paying off too as the Xbox One was the best selling console in the United States in November and December 2014 and the platform’s sales in February were up by 84% month over month, even if the PS4 was still able to outpace it.
Led by Phil Spencer, who has been the head of Xbox for 11 months, the Xbox team is making changes for the better. One of these changes includes releasing Windows 10 on multiple Microsoft devices, which will allow developers to get their games to more people and it allows them to include cross-platform play features too. This is a big change for a company that was once criticized for ‘snubbing’ PC gaming at E3.
But this strategy still has a long way to go, says Phil Spencer in a new interview with Eurogamer. The company has never tried to integrate its PC and Xbox businesses like this before, with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates suggesting last year that the Xbox division should be sold off.
“Honestly, [this strategy is] new. The original vision around Xbox was to deliver a great gaming console that would also be useful for TV and other forms of entertainment, which could lift it to a huge install base and success. There are still great media functions inside the box, and we stay delivering on those features.
It’s been, what, 11 months since I came on board as the head of Xbox and try and get refocussed on that game vision, showing both the company and ourselves what’s going on in PC and the huge communities that are there and the opportunities for us on what’s going on this screen and on this screen in a first-class, first party way, it’s a unique opportunity for us that we can step into”
He also explains that this is why it made sense to buy Minecraft developer Mojang Studios for $2.5 billion. Minecraft has been a hit on multiple platforms, so (as Microsoft allows its games to be played across Xbox One, PC and maybe even Windows Phone) buying the popular sandbox title could help them demonstrate that.
He says that they are “trying to create a common set of tools and technologies that game developers can use to get to all the screens”, something Microsoft is doing with DirectX 12 support on PC and Xbox One. And he also explained that while multi-platform releases are “not something we’re forcing” we will see “more and more developers that are building these games that are appropriate for any screen that the gamer’s sitting down on.” That could mean that more important Xbox franchises will follow Fable‘s lead (Fable Legends has cross-platform play) in the near future.
Spencer also praised Valve for what it’s doing with Steam, “I’ve said it before, the work they’ve done on the Windows gaming side for 15, 20 years has been amazing. They’ve been the shepherds of that ecosystem while we’ve been a little bit absent.” He doesn’t see Steam as a competitor to Xbox One either, Spencer sees them as an “upside opportunity” instead, noting that Microsoft launched Ori and the Blind Forest on Steam and Xbox One at the same time. That might change in the future if Microsoft decides to try and get more people to buy PC games from the Windows store or if it decides to get into the virtual reality space (which Spencer says Microsoft isn’t ruling out), but for now this seems like a win-win situation for both PC and Xbox gamers.
Which Xbox games would you like to see on PC? Do you think cross-platform play will be a useful feature or a gimmick?