Exclusive

Why Did Xbox Show Palworld On “Every Screen” At A Company Meeting?

Inverse spoke to multiple Microsoft employees who attended a virtual town hall with Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer and Xbox President Sarah Bond last week.

Phil Spencer, executive vice president of Gaming for Microsoft Corp., speaks during the company's Xb...
Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Images of Palworld were shown across screens on February 6 at an internal Xbox town hall that Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer and Xbox President Sarah Bond held with employees. The meeting last Tuesday came right after rumors swirled around Xbox exclusive Starfield potentially coming to the PlayStation 5, and headlines about Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment potentially coming to the Nintendo Switch. Multiple Microsoft employees who were present for the virtual Xbox town hall described the event to Inverse ahead of a public announcement coming on February 15.

Spencer confirmed to employees there would be “future hardware” from Xbox and added that it would be safe to assume another Call of Duty was coming this October. He addressed the company’s recent job cuts and said that it had been a hard decision to stop things that weren’t working.

“Every screen is an Xbox,” Bond said in the internal meeting, according to multiple sources who requested anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to media. Bond spoke extensively about Xbox’s strategy of existing on multiple kinds of devices and greater ambitions of becoming the number one cross-platform gaming company.

Xbox President Sarah Bond speaking at an event just before E3 2019.

Bloomberg/Bloomberg/Getty Images

This isn’t the first time Xbox has shared its multi-device strategy. In 2020, Xbox gaming devices and ecosystem vice president Jason Ronald told me that Xbox is “not trying to force the player to upgrade to an individual device or to make things exclusive to this device or that device.” He estimated that this strategy has been in place since Spencer became head of the company in 2014, a year after the release of the Xbox One.

To illustrate the idea of Xbox on every screen, Microsoft showed images of Palworld on tablets, TV screens, monitors, and handheld devices. Internally, employees expressed surprise at seeing so much Palworld and joked about the possibility of an Xbox handheld, which has also been rumored. Xbox did not return multiple requests for comment.

Two months into 2024, Palworld, the Pokémon-esque open-world survival game about gunning up Pals, has quickly become a surprise success. Microsoft’s video game streaming service, Xbox Game Pass, also offers Palworld. Developer Pocketpair posted on January 31, almost two weeks after launch, that the game has reached 7 million players on Xbox and sold 12 million copies on Steam. Pocketpair did not respond to comment.

Getting exclusive access to Palworld could give Microsoft and Xbox another advantage over the competition, though the Pokémon Company did warn in January that it plans to investigate and take action on any games that infringe on its Pokémon intellectual property rights.

The internal town hall came ahead of Spencer, Bond, and Matt Booty hosting an Xbox podcast on Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern, which will hopefully clarify the many rumors and reports about the future of Xbox consoles and exclusive games. Inverse will be covering the business update and you can follow along here.

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