Xbox boss plans further studio acquisitions, wants more single-player games

A new Phil Spencer interview reveals his desire for stronger first party support and a more diverse selection of titles for Game Pass.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda is an undeniable boon for the company, and Xbox head Phil Spencer has again suggested that more will follow in the future.

In a recent interview with Gamereactor, Spencer was asked if he was content with Microsoft’s current line-up of titles.

Spencer, in response, expresses a need to further add to Game Pass and implied that Microsoft will continually be looking to acquire more studios and creators in order to provide new games for it.

‘As Game Pass continues to grow, we need to continue to feed that subscription. So, with the growth that we are seeing, I expect we will constantly be in this mode of bringing more creators into the fold,’ he said.

He also admits that he’s felt that Microsoft wasn’t doing enough to support its first party studios since even the later years of the Xbox 360, especially since he was head of first party at the time – a feeling that’s no doubt partly responsible for the Bethesda acquisition.

‘I had this feeling or belief that we were underinvesting, and I was head of first party, so I felt it directly. I wanted to invest more, and we weren’t able to,’ he says.

‘So, when I got into this job, I needed to put the business in a good space while getting the support of the company. And then we built a business model that prioritised investing in content knowing that we would have to invest early and wait a while for those investments to pay off.’

Spencer makes it clear that he wants to see a more diverse library of games available on Xbox and especially on Game Pass.

He believes that Microsoft is lacking in terms of first-party E-rated games (games suitable for all ages, like Minecraft) and, while other studios are pushing live service titles like EA’s Anthem or Square Enix’s Avengers, he doesn’t want one game dominating Game Pass.

‘The last thing I want in Game Pass is that there’s one game that everybody is playing forever, that’s not a gaming content subscription, that’s a one-game subscription, that’s [World Of Warcraft], right?’

He adds that he sees the value in story-driven single-player games, even namedropping Dontnod’s Tell Me Why, and says he wants to see more single-player games from Microsoft.

‘So for us, having games in the subscription that have a beginning, middle, and end, and then they go on to play the next game, maybe those are single-player narrative-driven games, I just finished Tell Me Why, an amazing game from Dontnod, those games can be really strong for us in the subscription. In many ways, they’re actually better than one or two games that are soaking up all the engagement in the subscription.

‘I want a long tail of a lot of games that people are playing, and I think the diversity of online multiplayer versus single-player, we have to support the diversity there, and that’s my goal. If anything, I’d like to see more single-player games from our first-party, just because that over time we’ve kind of grown organically to be more multiplayer-driven as an organisation.’

As Spencer says, Microsoft has heavily pushed multiplayer focused games in the past, so it’s interesting to know that it’s recognising that it needs more of a balance.

It’s possible that it’s taken notice of Sony’s overwhelming success with its numerous single-player games on the PlayStation 4: Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Spider-Man, just to name a few.

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