At the X019 event in London over the weekend, Xbox head executive Phil Spencer stated that a key feature for Xbox One owners will return for Project Scarlett, the codename for Microsoft's next-generation console.
The ongoing Xbox Play Anywhere initiative, which allows games to include cross-platform support for multiplayer, save data, and purchases for Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One, will expand with support for the next Xbox when it launches in late 2020. The existing library of Play Anywhere titles, mostly made up of first-party games from Xbox Game Studios like Gears 5, Crackdown 3, and Forza Horizon 4, will move forward for players who choose to upgrade to Project Scarlett as well.
Spencer says that a primary goal for Project Scarlett is making it easy for players to move forward without losing access to their existing library of Xbox games and their save data, and making the transition simple compared to the jump from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One. “Our goal for our first-party games is that your entitlements will be cross-generation and your Achievements will move effectively with your save game because that’s where they stand,” he said.
The Xbox boss also mentioned that Microsoft hopes that third parties will take note of the features offered through Play Anywhere and bring some of them to their own titles when Project Scarlett launches, though whether or not they will is up to their partners. "We think it’s a good thing that third-party games allow more players to play their games but it’s relationships with their parties. They own their content, just like some third-parties are in Game Pass and some are not and that’s their choice."
Microsoft lost trust from fans in the early days of the Xbox One after plans for a restrictive ownership system for the console was leaked before its announcement in 2013. Upon its announcement, the early marketing for the machine focused heavily on its functions as a media center rather than its ability to play games, and the console launched at $100 more than the PlayStation 4 because the rarely-used Kinect sensor was bundled in the package. The company says that the new Xbox will be priced reasonably, but hasn't revealed an MSRP or a release date yet.
While the company faced criticism ahead of the Xbox One's launch, Microsoft has pivoted over the years to position the console as a gamer-friendly option to a fair amount of success, even with a significantly smaller install base compared to the PS4. The console's Play Anywhere features, as well as the Xbox Game Pass subscription service and support for backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 titles, have been a major part of the company's strategy to earn back players' goodwill, and appear to be sticking around for the Xbox line's next generation with Project Scarlett.