Gaming News

Xbox Confirms Multi-Platform Rumors But It's Not Abandoning Consoles Entirely

The next-generation Xbox is still on the way, but console exclusivity is changing.

A pair of Microsoft home video game consoles, including an Xbox Series S (L) and Xbox Series X, take...
Future/Getty Images

The way you play Xbox games is about to change. Four games previously exclusive to Xbox are coming to PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch, according to the official Xbox podcast. Microsoft also teased its next-generation console, confirming that it’s not shifting away from hardware entirely.

Xbox hasn’t yet announced which four games are coming to other consoles, but Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer says that Starfield and Indiana Jones and the Great Circle are not among them yet, despite persistent rumors that both could be coming to PS5. It did name one recent hit coming to Game Pass next month.

The announcement is nowhere near as expansive as many had predicted. Microsoft says that the games it’s bringing to Switch and PS5 are a collection of live service games and “hidden gems” and that each has already been available on Xbox for at least a year. “There's really no fundamental change to how we think about exclusivity,” Spencer said.

Xbox revealed its multiplatform plans in a recent podcast.

Speaking to The Verge, Spencer said that Microsoft is “learning from the experience” of bringing this initial batch of games to other consoles, suggesting that it’s possible others will join the titles later.

Microsoft also said that Game Pass isn’t going anywhere, shutting down the biggest rumor surrounding Xbox lately.

“Xbox consoles will continue to provide a flagship experience for players; it’s where you get the best value and convenience, it’s where Game Pass provides unprecedented access to an ever-evolving library of games,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “To be clear: Game Pass will continue to be only available on Xbox platforms.”

At the same time, Microsoft says it’s preparing for the next iteration of the Xbox as well. The upcoming console is set to be “the largest technical leap you will have ever seen in a hardware generation,” according to Xbox president Sarah Bond.

Spencer also discussed the possibility of an Xbox handheld with The Verge. While he didn’t mention any new hardware specifically, Spencer does at least confirm that it’s not out of the question.

“Obviously we’re kind of learning from what Nintendo has done over the years with Switch, they’ve been fantastic with that,” Spencer said. “So when I look at Steam Deck and the ROG and my Legion Go, I’m a big fan of that space.”

Microsoft didn’t reveal which games it’s bringing to Switch and PS5, but Hi-Fi Rush is one of the most likely.

Microsoft

While the podcast was light on actual details of Microsoft’s plans, it did include one concrete reveal, albeit a much smaller one. Diablo IV is the first Activision Blizzard game joining Game Pass after Microsoft acquired the publisher, arriving on March 28.

The recent announcements come after long-standing rumors that Xbox was working to get Game Pass onto other consoles like the Nintendo Switch. In January, those claims got much more specific, with reports predicting that Starfield, Hi-Fi Rush, and Pentiment could be making their way to PlayStation 5, and the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Great Circle may be joining it. While Starfield and Indiana Jones have been ruled out, Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment could still fill the role of the “hidden gem” games Microsoft mentioned.

After Xbox announced earlier this week that it would be sharing updates in a new podcast, multiple Xbox staffers told Inverse that a town hall had been held last week to address its upcoming plans. There, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer confirmed that Xbox was not exiting the console business, noting that the company has “future hardware” on the way, employees told Inverse. Xbox President Sarah Bond told staffers, “every screen is an Xbox.”

Starfield is not one of the games coming to Switch and PS5, despite rumors.

Microsoft

Also at the meeting, Microsoft showed images from recent smash hit Palworld on multiple different screens, including handhelds. Employees joked that that could mean Microsoft is preparing to launch a handheld Xbox console. With the PlayStation Portal joining the Nintendo Switch in the handheld market — though with much more limited functionality — that leaves Microsoft as the only console maker with no handheld of its own, if you don’t count its cloud gaming efforts. Recently, rumors have claimed that an Xbox handheld may be in the works, though they remain unconfirmed by Microsoft.

Bond also talked about Palworld being the largest third-party Game Pass launch ever, which gives us a better sense of how the subscription service is faring. Palworld reached seven million Xbox players about two weeks after launch, developer Pocketpair publicly announced last month. In contrast, in a similar time frame, Starfield reached 10 million players after launch last September. We know that the developmental cycle for Starfield was seven years long and arduous while Palworld remains in early access.

The move away from console exclusivity may not be as big a step as many predicted, but it’s one that’s been easy to see coming at least since the launch of the Xbox Series X and Series S. Microsoft made Game Pass a major part of its plans for the latest console, including selling a package that bundled a subscription in exchange for a discount. Since then, Game Pass has massively expanded its library, most notably when Microsoft acquired publisher Bethesda, adding games like Fallout and Skyrim to the service.

While today’s announcement didn’t quite live up to expectations, it does signal that Microsoft is expanding its catalog beyond its own consoles. While Spencer was quick to temper expectations, he does say that the company has no qualms with bringing some of its software to other platforms. “When we don't damage Xbox, and we can grow our business using what other platforms have and to help us with that, we're going to do that,” Spencer said.

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