Microsoft confirms four Xbox exclusives coming to PS5 and Switch, sees a future 'Where every screen is an Xbox'

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, discusses game preservation on the Official Xbox Podcast.
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, discusses game preservation on the Official Xbox Podcast. (Image credit: Xbox (via YouTube))

Speaking yesterday during the Official Xbox Podcast (embedded below), the head of Xbox at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, clarified the direction of the Xbox business in the face of confirming rumors of "four Xbox exclusives" coming to PS5 and Switch. 

In an internal memo covered this morning by The Verge, Phil Spencer further explained, "We have a different vision for the future of gaming. A future where players have a unified experience across devices. [...] A future where every screen is an Xbox." Phil Spencer referred to Xbox as "our gaming platform and content business" when speaking to The Verge, which they note isn't them using the word "console" at all.

So, is the future of Xbox hardware up in the air? For now, not likely. The tone of the Official Xbox Podcast below is generally optimistic for the Xbox business, particularly in the face of Microsoft's costly $69 billion dollar acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, making them the largest game publisher on any game platform.

Based on information gleaned from the Podcast, Microsoft isn't quite rushing to the door of the console hardware space just yet. The money that has been spent on Acti-Bliz to expand their dominance in console gaming and will continue to make from that deal isn't quite characteristic with, say, the struggling Sega of the '90s and 2000s.

While Xbox has stepped into Sega's console industry shoes in many ways (frequent Top 2 contender, some true Sega-Xbox exclusives, and porting to competing platforms), it remains its own thing, for now. Phil Spencer states that the upcoming releases of four titles will serve as a testing ground for future Xbox ports to PS5 and Switch but clarifies that it's not an indicator all Xbox titles will one day be available on those platforms.

It does seem like there's a lot of money to be made for Xbox on PS5 and Switch, though. It'll be interesting to see how this business model ultimately balances out for Microsoft. Is it okay for Xbox hardware to falter if Xbox software flourishes on other platforms and still makes them money in some way?

For what it's worth, Xbox still seems dedicated to console hardware. One way in which it has excelled at that (which is touched upon in the podcast) is the approach to game preservation via Xbox and Xbox 360 Backward Compatibility for Xbox One and Series consoles. Multiple generations of (patch-required, but still) backward compatibility make modern Xbox platforms compelling for physical game collectors who want their games to work between consoles.

For example, Sonic Unleashed is a 2008 PS3/360 game that genuinely pushed phenomenal graphics for its time. But that same game also regularly dropped below 30 FPS on its native console hardware because the engine demands were simply too ambitious for that generation of consoles to handle.

Fast forward to 2020, 12 years later. The only ways to play Sonic Unleashed at a stable 30 FPS or higher are to either use very in-development Xbox 360 emulation or use Sonic Generations mods for the PC port. But in November 2021, Microsoft added FPS Boost to several Xbox 360 games being played on Xbox Series consoles— including Unleashed- finally making it possible to play the game at 60 FPS on consoles 13 years after it was released.

  • TechLurker
    Realistically, I feel this is to show good faith that they'll play reasonably fair with Sony and Nintendo more than anything.

    That said, "Xbox on PlayStation" or "Xbox on Switch" would certainly be a weird thing to see, but if Xbox does eventually give up the console race for whatever reason, being able to roughly become the console equivalent of Luna/Stadia/GeForce Now and having their entire current and future games catalogue available on PS and Nintendo wouldn't be completely out there. They could leverage MS' servers to provide both game streaming and game downloading (depending if one wants offline playability).

    That said, given that consoles have sort of become a popular all-in-one for living room entertainment besides gaming; used for browsing, video streaming, and maybe even legacy disc media playing as opposed to a Roku or Fire Stick, I don't see Xbox abandoning consoles any time soon. Worst case, they'll be making glorified multimedia streaming boxes (possibly with guaranteed server priority), realizing their multimedia vision from the XB1 days (where games were planned to be 100% digital only).
    Reply
  • jeffy9987
    TechLurker said:
    Realistically, I feel this is to show good faith that they'll play reasonably fair with Sony and Nintendo more than anything.

    That said, "Xbox on PlayStation" or "Xbox on Switch" would certainly be a weird thing to see, but if Xbox does eventually give up the console race for whatever reason, being able to roughly become the console equivalent of Luna/Stadia/GeForce Now and having their entire current and future games catalogue available on PS and Nintendo wouldn't be completely out there. They could leverage MS' servers to provide both game streaming and game downloading (depending if one wants offline playability).

    That said, given that consoles have sort of become a popular all-in-one for living room entertainment besides gaming; used for browsing, video streaming, and maybe even legacy disc media playing as opposed to a Roku or Fire Stick, I don't see Xbox abandoning consoles any time soon. Worst case, they'll be making glorified multimedia streaming boxes (possibly with guaranteed server priority), realizing their multimedia vision from the XB1 days (where games were planned to be 100% digital only).
    yes its clear microsoft has tripled down on the entertainment box not gaming box i expect the next xbox to be ≈200$
    Reply
  • ilukey77
    TechLurker said:
    Realistically, I feel this is to show good faith that they'll play reasonably fair with Sony and Nintendo more than anything.

    That said, "Xbox on PlayStation" or "Xbox on Switch" would certainly be a weird thing to see, but if Xbox does eventually give up the console race for whatever reason, being able to roughly become the console equivalent of Luna/Stadia/GeForce Now and having their entire current and future games catalogue available on PS and Nintendo wouldn't be completely out there. They could leverage MS' servers to provide both game streaming and game downloading (depending if one wants offline playability).

    That said, given that consoles have sort of become a popular all-in-one for living room entertainment besides gaming; used for browsing, video streaming, and maybe even legacy disc media playing as opposed to a Roku or Fire Stick, I don't see Xbox abandoning consoles any time soon. Worst case, they'll be making glorified multimedia streaming boxes (possibly with guaranteed server priority), realizing their multimedia vision from the XB1 days (where games were planned to be 100% digital only).
    This seems more like a if we play nice Sony / Nintendo will play nice ,,
    Stupid thing is Sony and Nintendo dont want to play nice and nor do they need to Sony Ps5 is out selling Xbox as is Switch ..
    Xbox has tried before with Sony and Sony laughs at them because why would Sony give up there position as #1 selling console to #2 ..
    with Sony having better and more exclusives Sony doesnt need Xbox games !!
    And well Nintendo hate everything and everyone who is not Nintendo !!
    Reply
  • thestryker
    They announced 4 games total right now and the type of games make sense. Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment are smaller scale games while Grounded and Sea of Thieves are live service type games. The former aren't necessarily console sellers and the latter benefit from the biggest possible playerbase. Assuming these types of games are what continue going to other consoles then I can easily see where they would be able to stay in the hardware and software game.
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    From de original xbox one no one hacked it. But now with other eco system Microsoft will lost ground with pirated games... exclusive Microsoft games outside the console make no buy for Xbox its self.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    ilukey77 said:
    This seems more like a if we play nice Sony / Nintendo will play nice ,,
    Stupid thing is Sony and Nintendo dont want to play nice and nor do they need to Sony Ps5 is out selling Xbox as is Switch ..
    The way I look at it is like MS' strategy for mobile (i.e. phones & tablets). They basically accepted that Windows was never going to be the OS of choice for those devices and instead turned their attention to the next level in the software stack + the supporting cloud services.

    What that means is that you can use MS technologies to develop a phone app and deploy that app on iPhone or Android (and easily re-targeting to Windows). So, it provides value to app developers, while undermining the attempts of Apple and Google to keep developers in their walled gardens. Meanwhile, MS is selling cloud services, off the back end of that.

    Essentially, MS is saying they don't care if you buy their hardware or Sony's, they're going to find a way to make money off of you. The hardware business wasn't their main source of profits - the hardware was just a software delivery vehicle. So, it makes sense if they've decided to stop caring whether you're playing on XBox, Playstation, PC, or whatever. They have more at stake in being able to reach you than they do by trying to make you use XBox.

    As long as Sony can't lock out MS apps from PS5, which seems to be supported by recent rulings such as Epic vs. Apple, MS doesn't really need its own hardware platform.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    TechLurker said:
    but if Xbox does eventually give up the console race for whatever reason,
    How many more generations of consoles do you think there will be?
    Since the PS4/xboxone those are just locked down custom PCs running a locked down OS, it's just a matter of time for desktop PCs to become so fast, and maybe AI helping with translation layers, that they will be able to play all the console games with emulators from day one, and the switch is so weak that you can already play all their games on entry level office systems.

    As you said yourself, most times the console is being used as a more easy to use PC, if valve after a couple more steamdecks goes back to the original idea of a steamPC/steamOS, then the benefit of having a console will become extremely questionable.
    Reply
  • ilukey77
    TerryLaze said:
    How many more generations of consoles do you think there will be?
    Since the PS4/xboxone those are just locked down custom PCs running a locked down OS, it's just a matter of time for desktop PCs to become so fast, and maybe AI helping with translation layers, that they will be able to play all the console games with emulators from day one, and the switch is so weak that you can already play all their games on entry level office systems.

    As you said yourself, most times the console is being used as a more easy to use PC, if valve after a couple more steamdecks goes back to the original idea of a steamPC/steamOS, then the benefit of having a console will become extremely questionable.
    there will be many more console gens PC gaming for all its master race BS people like to spin ..

    console gaming is still cheaper and more wide spread ..

    1000% PC gaming is better but with the growing cost of PC components still cheaper to buy a Xbone or Ps5
    Reply
  • bit_user
    TerryLaze said:
    Since the PS4/xboxone those are just locked down custom PCs running a locked down OS, it's just a matter of time for desktop PCs to become so fast, and maybe AI helping with translation layers, that they will be able to play all the console games with emulators from day one,
    You shouldn't actually need an emulator. Maybe a hacked VM, in order to fool the DRM, but the actual x86 code can just execute natively.

    TerryLaze said:
    most times the console is being used as a more easy to use PC,
    You can't ignore cost difference, though. Spec out a PC for the same cost as a console, using new parts (with or without optical drive - you choose). Also, no PSUs that lack full underwriting & certification. And, don't forget that consoles include a controller.
    Reply
  • ivan_vy
    ilukey77 said:
    there will be many more console gens PC gaming for all its master race BS people like to spin ..

    console gaming is still cheaper and more wide spread ..

    1000% PC gaming is better but with the growing cost of PC components still cheaper to buy a Xbone or Ps5
    also for children is far easy to buy them a console that comes with a walled garden, questionable content went through?blame the platform. One of the reasons people pay Disney+: a digital nanny.
    Reply