Single-player games haven't been Xbox's strong suit for a generation, now. The Xbox One's strongest console exclusives have leaned multiplayer, including the continuations of the Halo, Forza, and Gears franchises and new IP like Titanfall and Sea of Thieves. Single-player exclusives including Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break, and Ryse: Son of Rome have found niches but are understated compared to the Xbox 360 generation. Xbox head Phil Spencer says that will be changing.
Responding to an Xbox fan's question on Twitter, Spencer offered an encouraging remark for fans hoping to see more single-player games on Xbox platforms. The question is whether more single-player games will be coming to Xbox in the years ahead. Spencer replies directly, "Yes, I can confirm." Spencer can't outright list Xbox's future single-player plans, with much hidden behind the veil of next-generation consoles. However, he does explain why he's confident.
Xbox has recently gone on a run of game studio acquisitions. Seven studios in total have been announced as joining the Xbox Game Studios fold since E3 2018, plus the formation of a new studio in The Initiative. A majority of those new studios are known for their single-player games. Obsidian Entertainment, in particular, is a single-player RPG powerhouse. Double Fine produces a consistent streamline of diverse single-player games. Ninja Theory typically focuses on single-player, too, thought its first game under Microsoft will be the multiplayer game Bleeding Edge.
In Spencer's words, Xbox now has a variety of "teams that have built strong [single-player] focused games and we want that to continue." While this first round of games from the new studios won't be Xbox exclusives, since they're beholden to previously made publisher contracts, the next wave will be all Xbox.
Yes, I can confirm. With the additions to XGS we have a lot of teams that have built strong SP focused games and we want that to continue.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) August 7, 2019
The unsaid portion of Phil Spencer's reply is that Xbox gamers are unlikely to see the product of these new studio acquisitions until the next generation of consoles. In the meantime, single-player experiences like Ori and the Will of the Wisps and the variety of offerings on Xbox Game Pass will fill the void. Obsidian's The Outer Worlds will also be available soon, but not console exclusive to Xbox.
One thing's for sure, however. Spencer's dedication to supporting single-player experience now is markedly different than his perspective in 2017. Then, Spencer was quoted as saying:
"One of the things I worry about... are the single-player story-driven games. It's hard when so much of the gameplay that happens on a daily basis is on these games that are long and growing and service-based, and then you get a smaller single-player game and what...how does it find its audience when so many hours are taken up [already]?"
Spencer and the Xbox team appear to have discovered the value of single-player experiences since.