Xbox Series X Crossgen Not a Hard Rule Says Spencer, Next-Gen Exclusives a Dev Decision


New consoles launch with exclusive games in order to entice players to upgrade. That’s the way it’s always been, and the way Sony is still doing things with the PS5. That said, Microsoft is breaking with that tradition, as all Xbox Series X games that come out in its first year or two will also be available on Xbox One. It’s certainly a bold move, and many players are divided on the merits.

One of the main arguments against the crossgen approach is that it will unduly hold back developers, who will be forced to tailor their visions to seven-year-old Xbox One hardware. Well, according to Phil Spencer, that isn’t necessarily the case. In a recent interview with GameStar, the Xbox boss says it’s actually up to first-party developers whether they want to make their game crossgen or next-gen exclusive…

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The thing you'll see on the 23rd is we're giving our studios real creative freedom to build the games that they envision. As you know we've added a lot of studios to the to the Xbox Game Studios organization over the last few years and providing them the financial stability, the creative freedom to go build the games that they want to go build, and our game creators want to build great games that can reach a large audience of players.

So, I think what you hear Matt [Booty] talking about and what our creators will say is we have a vision for every game that we're building and the vision starts with the player, not the device. If a creator comes to us and says 'No, I really want to focus on next generation' with their games, we're completely open to that and we're very supportive of that. If a creator comes to us and says I have this vision for reaching these customers across different platforms and different generations we're completely supportive of that.

It is really about our creators having choice and allowing them to build the games that they want to build to reach the audience that they're looking for and not things that we're mandating to our creators in terms of what they have to go do. It's not our rules for our platform it's more about creators creating the games that they want to go build looking ahead.

The implication of Spencer’s quote, is that all of Microsoft’s first-parties have chosen to go the crossgen route. That’s not exactly surprising – the majority of Microsoft’s first-party Xbox studios are recent purchases that were likely already working on current-gen stuff. It’s much easier for them to simply release a crossgen game with a 4K Xbox Series X patch than to completely reinvent their games from scratch for next-gen. Once they burn through these games they can start working on true next-gen projects. Spencer likes to frame crossgen as a gift to players, but there are logistical and financial factors at work too.

Microsoft’s big Xbox Games Showcase is slated for July 23. Given the crossgen thing apparently isn’t a hard rule, do you think we might get an early peek at any true next-gen exclusives?