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Dissecting Xbox’s weirdest quote about its new exclusives strategy

While PS5 players are about to get four excellent games sent their way, I'm doubtful it's enough to make them "more interested" in Xbox.

Xbox Phil Spencer PlayStation: A woman with short brown hair and a red leather padded jacket. Red logos for Xbox and Playstation hover behind her

In a recent podcast, Xbox’s top brass reiterated its grand vision for the future and confirmed the rumors that some exclusive games would be shipped out to rival platforms like PlayStation. A lot was discussed, but there was one quote from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer that really stood out to me, because it’s either completely delusional or a hint at much bigger things to come. He wants players on other platforms to get “more interested in Xbox”, but it’s going to take a lot more than its current offering of four games to achieve that.

As you have more than likely seen by now, a quartet of Xbox exclusives are heading to rival platforms in the near future, and reports claim that they are Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment, Grounded, and Sea of Thieves. Don’t get me wrong, these are some of the best Xbox games around, and PS5 players will welcome them with open arms. But their quality and prestige doesn’t really line up with this interesting quote from Spencer:

“Looking forward, there is an interesting story for us of introducing Xbox franchises to players on other platforms to get them more interested in Xbox. We think there’s a good brand value for Xbox there.”

I fully understand the individual business cases for sending these four games off to pastures new – they’ve all hit their ceilings for player counts and sales on the Xbox ecosystem, so opening them up to PlayStation players will bring in extra revenue for those teams and their future projects.

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However, if another objective is to get PlayStation players “more interested in Xbox”, presumably in the hope of converting them to the Xbox ecosystem, then these games just won’t achieve that. They’re all fun and fantastic in their own right, but you’d need a much bigger draw to show PlayStation players ‘what they’re missing’ over on the other side. This audience has already made a big investment in their Sony console, and have a wealth of their own excellent PS5 exclusives to enjoy already.

So, why say it? Well, it’s either a throwaway marketing line with some misplaced confidence in these four games, or it’s suggesting that Xbox isn’t afraid to send more high-profile exclusives to PS5 in the future. Yes, Spencer ruled out juggernauts like Starfield or the upcoming Indiana Jones game for now. But in an accompanying interview with The Verge, when quizzed specifically on the chances of a Starfield PS5 version, he says: “I don’t think we should as an industry ever rule out a game going to any other platform.”

The only way this strategy would create Spencer’s desired “interest” in Xbox, to the extent that it would lure players into its ecosystem, is if the games are so good and so unmissable that they would fell the need to defect to get future games immediately on day one. While they are some of the best Xbox Game Pass games to ever hit the service, I’m not convinced the four games in question are quite up to that task.

I certainly found myself agreeing with the majority of Xbox’s messaging during this business update, but this one quote from Spencer was one I couldn’t understand and get behind.

For more coverage of the recent business update, read up on the enormous technical leap Xbox is claiming it’s next console will have, and take a look at why Palworld was put on a pedestal by Xbox president Sarah Bond.