We don't hear quite as much from Phil Spencer these days, perhaps due to his new position of VP of Gaming at Microsoft. As the head of Microsoft Studios (a role now occupied by Matt Booty), he used to engage more with both the press and the community directly via Twitter.
Yesterday, though, PC Gamer posted a new article after exchanging a few emails with Spencer himself. To begin with, he confirmed that the goal is to keep the creative freedom of each new studio acquired by Microsoft while allowing them to exploit their full potential.
We want each studio to retain their unique spirit and culture while feeling empowered by the collective resources they now have as a member of Xbox Games Studios and Microsoft. We’re here to help lift any of the distractions and challenges that have kept them from what they do best.
The opportunity for collaboration and shared learning across our new and existing teams is potentially what’s most exciting to me. It’s been inspiring to hear stories already of how the incredible talents across these teams are reaching out to connect, share and learn from one another.
When it comes to the platforms that their games are targeting, here too Spencer said it will depend solely on the studios as Microsoft will support whatever decision they make.
We want to empower game creators to extend the reach of their games to the broadest global player base possible. That said, we understand that there are certain types of games that may be best experienced within a specific context, or with a specific input method (keyboard and mouse, controller, etc.). Obsidian, inXile and all our studios will have the resources to reach players on any device and we’ll support the decisions each studio makes regarding the platform and features that let them deliver the experience they want for gamers.
Last but not least, the executive reiterated his commitment to improving the PC gaming experience starting with the often criticized Microsoft Store. He said to expect news about this at the E3 conference in June.
Delivering great gaming experience to PC players is critically important to the future of Xbox and gaming at Microsoft, [as we have a] responsibility to invest in new ways we can benefit the PC player to help ensure they stay at the center of the experience.
While we are proud of our PC gaming heritage, we’ve made some mistakes along our journey. We know we have to move forward, informed by our past, with the unique wants, needs and challenges of the PC player at the center of decisions we make. I know we’ve talked quite a bit over time about what we want to deliver for the player on PC, but at E3 this year, and throughout 2019, you’ll begin to see where we’ve been investing to deliver across Store, services, in Windows and in great games. It’s just the beginning.
Bits and pieces of Microsoft's strategy to handle Windows PC games outside of its Store have been summarized on Thurrott by insider Brad Sams. In the 18334 preview build for Windows 10 19H1, Microsoft added unspecified 'exciting technology improvements for gaming' alongside the ability to get the first State of Decay game for free for testing purposes.
As it turns out, it looks like they're testing a new way to deliver games which uses the same file format used on Xbox One (.xvc). This could be an attempt to simplify ports from Xbox One to PC, in addition to downloading the games directly from Xbox Live rather than Microsoft Store. We'll have to wait for the official announcement to fully understand the plans in motion at Microsoft.