Xbox’s Phil Spencer Says PS5-Style Next-Gen Exclusives “Counter to What Gaming is About”

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Next-gen exclusives – are they necessary to push the industry and artform forward or do they just unnecessarily divide players? Sony takes the former position and will launch the PlayStation 5 with the usual array of exclusives, while Microsoft supports the latter and has promised all first-party Xbox Series X games will also come out on the Xbox One for at least a year.

So, is Microsoft limiting their developers by forcing them to support the Xbox One? In a new interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Phil Spencer rejects the idea that the Xbox Series X will be in any way held back.

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Frankly, “held back” is a meme that gets created by people who are too caught up in device competition. […] The diversity of hardware choice in PC has not held back the highest fidelity PC games on the market. The highest fidelity PC games rival anything that anybody has ever seen in video games. So this idea that developers don't know how to build games, or game engines, or ecosystems, that work across a set of hardware... there's a proof point in PC that shows that's not the case.

Later in the interview, Spencer goes a step further, saying Sony’s next-gen-exclusive-focused approach is “completely counter to what gaming is about”…

As a player you are the centre of our strategy. Our device is not the centre of our strategy, our game is not the centre of the strategy. We want to enable you to play the games you want to play, with the friends you want to play with, on any device. […] Gaming is about entertainment and community and diversion and learning new stories and new perspectives, and I find it completely counter to what gaming is about to say that part of that is to lock people away from being able to experience those games. Or to force someone to buy my device on the day that I want them to go buy it, in order to partake in what gaming is about.

Okay, I generally like Spencer, but let’s be real – forcing studios to support seven-year-old hardware is going to limit what they make. There’s no way around that, particularly since we’re at a place where new technology, like solid-state drives, are going to fundamentally change the way games are developed. Epic’s amazing, photorealistic Unreal Engine 5 demo only used as much GPU processing grunt as Fortnite. It was cutting-edge technology, only available in new consoles, that made that possible.

Spencer tries to frame crossgen as a pro-gamer thing, but realistically, Xbox Game Studios is largely made up of recently-purchased devs who were already working on stuff for current-gen hardware. Also, Microsoft has made no bones about the fact that they want a platform-agnostic future where Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass is available on all hardware. So, this isn’t that altruistic.

Anywho, what do you think? Are next-gen exclusives important to you or do you prefer Microsoft’s more inclusive approach?

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