Xbox boss Phil Spencer discusses the future of the Xbox One and PC Play Anywhere program, suggesting that third party game developers will participate eventually.
The announcement of the Xbox Play Anywhere program during E3 2016 was perhaps the biggest reveal of Microsoft’s entire presentation, despite being sandwiched between the reveal of two new consoles. There had been rumors for months suggesting that Microsoft was extremely interested in blurring the lines between PC and console gaming on Xbox One, but the unveiling of Xbox Play Anywhere marked a tangible commitment from Microsoft to following through on that philosophy.
While the program has had some growing pains – most notably confusion regarding the scope of first party Play Anywhere support – it has been generally well-received by Xbox and PC gamers alike. So far, Xbox Play Anywhere has had the benefit of debuting at a time that saw many of Microsoft’s biggest first party game releases occur just months later, but there has been no indication that third party publishers are interested in contributing to the service. Xbox boss Phil Spencer recently addressed this discrepancy in an interview with PC Authority:
“I’d say some of the bigger traditional third party publishers, they want to see how this works out for us…there’s always a fear that you’re ‘giving away two games for the price of one’…I think the third party big publisher adoption will happen in time.”
Spencer immediately supported his belief, however, suggesting that he thinks “there are very few people that actually buy a game twice”. Spencer believes that the service offers gamers the chance to play a given game more often, and that third party publishers will eventually see the value in creating an environment that encourages that kind of experience.
Xbox has been aggressively marketing the Xbox Play Anywhere program as the future of console and PC gaming, making sure that the service is available to everyone within reason and offering major releases like Gears of War 4 on the service. The only major criticism of Xbox Play Anywhere so far has been its relatively small library – if publishers like Ubisoft, EA, and Activision do participate in Xbox Play Anywhere in the future, it will likely provide a huge influx of players using the service.
For anyone familiar with Microsoft’s more recent policies in regard to third party publishers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the industry giant has prioritized its own first party releases first. Microsoft has pushed the Xbox One away from third party exclusivity deals, and it seems safe to say that the company is confident that its first party library is strong enough to carry the Xbox Play Anywhere program for the foreseeable future.