Xbox boss Phil Spencer sounds like he’s largely over the idea of exclusives, at least of a certain kind. When asked by Bloomberg about the future of device-specific exclusives, Spencer replied he foresees “less and less” of them in the future, which he framed as a positive thing for players.
“Maybe you happen in your household to buy an Xbox and I buy a PlayStation and our kids want to play together and they can't because we bought the wrong piece of plastic to plug into our television. We really love to be able to bring more players in reducing friction, making people feel safe, secure when they're playing, allowing them to find their friends, play with their friends, regardless of what device — I think in the long run that is good for this industry. And maybe in the short run, there's some people in some companies that don’t love it. But I think as we get over the hump and see where this industry can continue to grow, it proves out to be true.”
Of course, there are different types of exclusives in 2022. While Microsoft gave up device-specific-exclusivity quite some time ago, releasing their games on PC and sometimes even other consoles, not all platforms are physical. Spencer is obviously betting big on his Xbox Game Pass service and has spent countless billions of dollars acquiring studios to make subscription-and-streaming-exclusive games for them. Spencer isn’t interested in tying us to a specific “piece of plastic” anymore, but he’d sure like it if all of us (and our credit card information) were tied to Xbox Game Pass.
Speaking of exclusives and Microsoft’s hunger for new studios, Spencer feels good about how their proposed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is progressing as the deal is scrutinized by regulators around the world…
“I feel good about the progress that we've been making, but I go into the process supportive of people who maybe aren't as close to the gaming industry asking good, hard questions about ‘What is our intent? What does this mean? If you play it out over five years, is this constricting a market? Is it growing a market?’ I've never done a 70 billion-dollar deal, so I don't know what my confidence means,” Spencer said. “I will say the discussions we've been having seem positive.”
What do you think? Is the single-console exclusive on its last legs? And is it a good thing if it is?