The Xbox Needs More First Party Exclusives Admits Phil Spencer

Despite the release of Forza and Halo Infinite, Xbox Head Phil Spencer thinks the Xbox first-party exclusives are something the console is missing.

Spencer recently appeared on the Same Brain podcast to talk about all things Xbox. After chatting about what they’re currently playing, the topic of the future of Xbox came up.

Co-Host Jenna Ezerik asked Spencer, “what can you tell us about the future of Xbox, whether that’s game-related or partnerships that are happening?” Spencer’s answer revolved around one of the biggest perceived weaknesses of the Xbox brand: first-party exclusives.

“One thing we’ve definitely heard loud and clear is that it’s been too long since we’ve shipped what people would say is a big first-party game,” Spencer answered. “We could have our excuses on Covid and other things, but in the end, I know people invest in our platform and want to have great games.”

“We’re excited about 2023. You know, we’ve talked about games that are coming, and those games are tracking well. We’re kind of out of what Covid (did) to the production schedule. And as an industry, we’re starting-we’ve had fewer games this holiday in a while. You mention the launches, Call of Duty is coming, God of War is coming, Nintendo has had a good year. In general, we’ve been a little light, but I look at 2023, and there’s a great lineup of games coming and getting our first real Xbox first-party games out of Bethesda.”

Spencer also discussed the company’s investment in the PC platform and the future of Xbox Cloud, specifically with the Samsung TV partnership .

Regarding exclusive releases, Spencer’s take is dead on. The Nintendo Switch feels like it is constantly releasing exclusives non-stop. Once 2022 is over, the Switch will have seen two Pokémon releases, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, Splatoon 3, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Bayonetta 3, and others.

Sony continues to push the power of its exclusive lineups, most recently with The Last of Us Remastered and, later this week, God of War Ragnarök.

By comparison’s sake, Xbox has had a great year with Xbox Game Pass releases. However, it’s been a disappointing story in terms of first-party exclusives. Forza Horizon 5 had an expansion release earlier this year. Halo Infinite has seen several updates, with its biggest one coming soon . Beyond that, there isn’t much to write home about.

It’s Not All Bleak

To Spencer’s credit, 2023 is looking better on that front. Bethesda has two first-party exclusives coming with Redfall and Starfield. Forza Motorsport 8 is scheduled for a 2023 release. Help is on the way; it will just take some time.

Deathloop , one of the games released by Bethesda after the Microsoft acquisition, came to Xbox over the summer. It was previously a PlayStation 5 and PC-exclusive title.

Naturally, the topic of the Activision purchase came up during the podcast.

Co-Host Justine Ezerik asked Spencer, “the Activision news was pretty shocking to so many people, so how is all that going to play out?”

“We’re in the regulatory process right now, “Spencer replied, “which means we don’t have any decision-making or any authority over what Activision is doing…We expect this will close in this fiscal year for Microsoft in June. I’m pretty confident in the deal closing, I’m spending time with regulators; I think they’re doing a good job asking questions.”

Despite the calendar year ending in two months, the fiscal year for Microsoft runs through June 2023.

Spencer also mentioned the “treasure trove of games” regarding the Activision Blizzard backlog . He also discussed the power of mobile gaming from Activision Blizzard King, something that Microsoft and Xbox don’t have any reach in.

He also reiterated that they would not take Call of Duty away from PlayStation. “As long as there’s a PlayStation, we’ll ship Call of Duty there.”

Despite Spencer repeating these comments, Sony has expressed continual concern about the pending deal between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard.