While Microsoft previously expressed interest in bringing Xbox games and services to other platforms, comments from Xbox boss Phil Spencer suggest that degree of crossover is now unlikely.
In a new video interview with GameStar (spotted by Eurogamer), Spencer discussed the company's long-held goal to make its games and services more available. "It's about players making choices, gamers making choices," he says. "It really is not just offering choices for choices sake, but rather offering gamers the ability to choose how they want to experience our platform and our games.
"The thing about other gaming console platforms is that we're not able to bring a full Xbox experience on those platforms," he continues. "In places where we have, like mobile phones which we're doing now with xCloud coming to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for no extra charge - which we think is a great value to allow people to play on the go - and what we've done with PC in bringing our full Xbox experience there. Because we know that when somebody's playing our Xbox games, there is an expectation that I've got my Xbox Live community, I have my achievements, Game Pass is an option, my first-party library is completely there.
"And the other competitive platforms aren't really that interested in having a full Xbox experience on their hardware," Spencer concludes. "But for us, we want to be where gamers want to be, and that's the path that we're on."
Spencer's comments feel like a follow-up to the company's previous efforts to work more closely with Nintendo in particular. Microsoft brought first-party titles like Cuphead and Ori and the Blind Forest to the Switch, and Nintendo opened cross-platform multiplayer with Xbox-owned games like Minecraft. Rather than give and take, this was more like friendly cohabitation between two competitors who aren't quite as on-edge with one another as Xbox and PlayStation.
The relationship between the two companies seemed to peak in late 2018 into early 2019, while in August 2019, Microsoft clarified that it wouldn't continue to bring exclusives to Switch or PS4. This felt like a defense against claims that Xbox One didn't offer many exclusive games, whereas Spencer's recent comments on the interest of other platforms in hosting a "full Xbox experience" suggest that the company is revising its plans to spread Xbox Game Pass across the industry.
This fits with the way the three major platform holders seem to be trending: PlayStation is pushing for a clear-cut next-generation leap, Nintendo has its own eccentric hodge-podge of Switch exclusives and re-releases, and Xbox is building an ecosystem using multi-platform services like Game Pass and xCloud. With xCloud streaming coming to Game Pass this fall, and Xbox Live membership rumored to become part of the service given the recent removal of one-year subscriptions from the Microsoft Store, it looks like Microsoft is focusing its efforts on platforms it can fully control.
Speaking of xCloud, the service will likely receive a new name this fall to match its new home.