With the accessibility of Xbox Game Pass, the teams that are apart of Xbox Game Studios have more flexibility than ever before.
Xbox Game Pass continues to be arguably the most attractive service in video games. Giving players and possibly even more important, developers a platform to get their games in front of more eyes at little cost for consumers. This is even more relevant for all the developers a part of Xbox Game Studios.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.Biz, Tim Schafer, head of Double Fine studios, defines the amount of freedom that his studio has now being a part of the Xbox banner. “It does make me think about some of the crazy game ideas we’ve had, and some of them you’re just like… I can never pitch this to any publisher. I would never get this signed. But I am now opening up that folder of documents again, and going ‘oh I really love this idea, I bet I could do that now,’” explains Schafer.
With having fourteen first-party studios, Xbox head Phil Spencer finds himself in a different position now despite the potential of acquiring other studios. “My role is different now. I get to sit back and watch more as a consumer. One of the things that really strikes me is the creative diversity in the portfolio,” says Spencer. “…I look at what the teams have built already this year, the things that we’re going to show, and the things that are coming out later this year, and it is high quality, very different, and takes some creative risks.”
Spencer also goes into detail regarding the reputation that Xbox has received throughout the Xbox One generation and how that reception has affected their direction of Xbox Game Studios and Xbox Game Pass. “I am a fan of Xbox, obviously, but I don’t mind going to ‘are we the shooter box?’ is it ‘Gears, Halo, Forza, Gears, Halo, Forza’? I know all the memes about us,” Spencer clarifies. “We definitely look at what people want to play, and what we think they might want next. But we’ve also found some of the biggest successes in Game Pass were complete surprises to us. The friction for the player to try that next game is basically zero, I mean you have to download the game, but outside of that, you see a box, you see a studio that you know, you see some blurb, and you can just try it. And we’ve seen games reach millions and millions of players through that. So we try not to get overly prescriptive thinking that we know what people want to play. We try not to genrefy Game Pass.”
With the diverse first-party studio lineup that Xbox now has, it is likely that their games will vary in genre, size, and ambition. Hopefully, we will get to see what games the teams under the Xbox Game Studios banner are working on during the Xbox showcase on July 23rd.