In and amongst the chaos of Gamescom 2022, CEO of Microsoft Gaming and head of the Xbox brand Phil Spencer has sat down with Bloomberg to discuss the shrewd business decision that was Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard and the progress being made towards finalising the deal. Interestingly, despite concern from fans that popular Activision IPs – like the Call of Duty franchise – would be Xbox exclusives in the future, Spencer has confirmed that this isn’t going to be the case and explained that he believes we’re going to be seeing fewer games release as console exclusives in the future.
As per the Bloomberg interview, alongside the pledge that Call of Duty games will still be available on PlayStation consoles (at least for the time being), Spencer has shared that he believes “the idea of games made exclusively for one device is something we’re just going to see less and less of” going forward.
“Maybe you happen, in your household, to buy and Xbox and I buy a PlayStation… and [our kids can’t play together] because we bought the wrong piece of plastic to plug into our television”, Spencer explains, using this rather reductive situation to explain why console exclusivity isn’t something the industry should be continually moving towards.
“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.”
Spencer does mention that he’s not expecting everyone to be as on-board with this shift away from console exclusives than he is, but he believes that once the industry “gets over the hump”, it will see where it can grow and – with any luck – prove this rather open philosophy true.
We know we can’t speak for everyone, but he has a point. In addition to that, the recent trend in introducing cross-play and cross-progression to some of the best competitive FPS games out there, for example, is a sign that he isn’t alone in this fight for wider accessibility in gaming.
However, we just don’t know for sure whether this is going to be something we see for a long time. Some of the best Xbox Game Pass games are exclusive to Microsoft’s consoles, and we don’t think that’s changing anytime soon. Similarly, some of the best PS5 games are PlayStation exclusives, too. Of course, both companies are branching out into PC a little more than they were before, but it’s still not the open access Spencer envisions.
Still, his approach to the situation is admirable and we’re looking forward to how Activision Blizzard grows – and, more importantly, improves – under his watchful eye.