Phil Spencer is aware that Microsoft’s first-party output has leaned hard into multiplayer over the years.
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, has a very reasonable approach to Game Pass, and a realistic outlook of the output of his platform’s own first-party studios. It’s no secret that Xbox Studios-developed games have either been entirely multiplayer, or had a big focus on multiplayer elements and ongoing live services.
Some see Xbox Game Pass as a continuation of that, essentially a single subscription for a host of live service games, but Spencer says this is not Microsoft’s plan for the service or its own franchises.
Speaking to Game Reactor in an interview that covers a multitude of topics, the Xbox chief said that Microsoft doesn’t dictate the business model or monetisation strategy for its teams.
“It’s totally up to each studio, and I know some people that, when they’ve looked at the model around Game Pass, have assumed that Game Pass is actually a better model, if there’s more Games-as-a-Service games in the subscription,” he said.
But that’s not how Spencer sees it. The strength of Game Pass, according to him, is in its diversity of content, not how many live service games it could sustain.
“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?
“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.”
The idea is to have more than one game catering to different needs of the audience, which all together boost the value of Game Pass. This is Microsoft’s long-term plan for the subscription service.
As for Xbox’s own output, Spencer said the move to multiplayer happened organically, but that he’d nonetheless like to see more single-player content.
“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.”