By expanding and investing in Xbox Game Studios, Xbox hopes to eventually release a new first-party game roughly every three months.
"In terms of the overall lineup, we want to get to a point of releasing a new game every quarter," said Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty, discussing the company's first-party strategy during a broader presentation on the future of Xbox. "Games can take up to four or five years to make, and the reality is that not every project we start will make it to launch… that's how we've gotten to our state today, with two dozen studios, making games across a variety of genres. We know that a thriving entertainment service needs a consistent and exciting flow of new content. Our portfolio will continue to grow as our service grows."
After acquiring Bethesda and Zenimax last year, Xbox Game Studios now includes 23 studios. Pillars like 343 Industries and Turn 10 remain core to Xbox's first-party plans, but new blood like Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 developer Ninja Theory and RPG powerhouse Obsidian (currently working on the first-person fantasy RPG Avowed, which may or may not be seen at E3 2021) have expanded the group's footprint and capabilities considerably.
Even with so many studios under its umbrella, it's unclear when Xbox will be able to deliver and maintain the release schedule that Booty's alluding to. As he says, games take time, and even with so many upcoming Xbox Series X games on the horizon, there's currently no guarantee that the platform's exclusive and first-party offerings will align quarterly, or that releasing a new first-party game every three months will even be feasible as early as 2022.
The unique difficulties of the past year and change have stalled and derailed the development of countless games, not to mention the sales of the new console generation, so the industry in general is still in a bit of a catch-up stage. Xbox weathered 2020 alright, but it certainly isn't immune to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. In April, company CFO Amy Hood confirmed that Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S shortages would last until at least July 2021.
With no dramatic improvements to the global semiconductor shortage behind this console bottleneck, the new console generation will continue to be constrained by supply, and this may affect new games as well. Nevertheless, Xbox seems confident in its ability to support the rapidly expanding Xbox ecosystem with a healthy supply of first-party games, and to launch those games simultaneously on Game Pass.