"Right now, we have more Xbox console users than we've ever had in the history of Xbox," that number is about to grow after today's showing

Phil Spencer at Blizzcon 2023
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

What you need to know

  • Ryan McCaffrey from IGN interviewed Phil Spencer, and he talked at length about the past, present, and future of Xbox.
  • More games are going to more platforms.
  • Xbox is up double digits every year over the last five years on game sales, on Xbox consoles.
  • An Xbox handheld, theoretically, would be native. Not a streaming device.
  • Phil Spencer has totally played Elder Scrolls VI.

The Xbox Games Showcase has come to an end, and it's honestly one of the greatest showcases I've ever seen from the team at Xbox, and Jez Corden agrees. In what many considered to be a down year in gaming, Microsoft delivered what mattered most. Games. Bravo on putting a smile across the internet!

With titles such as Fable getting more looks, Perfect Dark finally being shown, or the triumphant return of a studio like GSC Game World that has battled not only in the offices of game design but in their own backyards, it's safe to say the show was stellar. Looking back, it's been an uphill battle for Xbox to reach this point.

From studio closures to the fight against the CMA and the FTC, it's no secret that Xbox has battled its way to where it is today. Now, with some games going to competing platforms, some fans across the globe have questioned the direction the ship is sailing. Spend enough time on social media, and you just might go crazy when surrounded by so many different opinions. 

I've seen dedicated fans ultimately switch their fandom due to their emotional investment in Xbox. At the same time, others have doubled down on their love for the platform in celebration of some recent decisions surrounding Xbox's multiplatform push. However, it's when surrounded by these sentiments as a social media user myself that I must remember it's an echo chamber built by the vocal minority.

The objective measure of success is gauged elsewhere by different means. This measuring is best done by the one leading this charge, and in this case, it's Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming. He sat down for an interview with IGN's Ryan McCaffrey to discuss the past, present, and future of Xbox, how it relates to these decisions that have been made, and what's in store for the fans going forward.

One of the few games that recently found a home on PlayStation. (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Where is Xbox headed?

When questioned about the current motto at Xbox and the direction in which the compass is pointed, Phil Spencer had this to say on the subject.

"Maybe our messaging hasn't been consistent. I will say from early on we would, "When everyone plays, we all win." How do we get to a place where everyone can play video games? We've made different progress on PC, and now PC is a huge business for us. We love that we have so many PC players, more than we've ever had. Our consoles are doing well."

"I think if you sit back and you try to frame this industry through the lens of the tradition of 'who sold a console today' and that's the only solution to making gaming better, I think Xbox is doing something different than that. I get a lot of questions. 'Hey, if I'm an Xbox owner, what does it mean?' I think it shows up so well in the show today. You saw an amazing collection of games coming to Xbox. They're going into Game Pass day one. Game Pass showed up so well. If you buy the game on our console, you get to play it on PC; the cross-entitlement stuff is all there."

"We're focused on future hardware with forward compatibility. Our commitment to our Xbox customers is you're going to get the ability to buy or subscribe, and you are going to see more of our games on more platforms. We see that as a benefit to the franchises that we're building, and we see that from players. And the players love to be able to play."

What a lineup (Image credit: Microsoft)

It's clear that Game Pass is the monster we all wanted it to be. Eighteen games in the showcase are coming on day one to Game Pass. Again, that's eighteen games, and almost every single one is a game I'm eager to play. So much for the idea of Game Pass filler, hey?

Phil also stated that more games were coming to more platforms. The only question he didn't answer was which. With the recent rumor that a Halo: Combat Evolved remake was in the works and being talked about for PlayStation, I think fans simply want some clarification on what titles are jumping the battlefield, so to speak.

He did clarify some things when speaking specifically about Doom. He mentioned that it wasn't entirely up to him or even someone above him. Instead, it came down to those creating the experiences themselves.

Into Oblivion (Image credit: Microsoft)

"Well, on Doom, it's definitely one of those franchises that has a history on so many devices. I think they have Doom running on a lawnmower somewhere. I think it's a franchise everybody deserves to play. And I asked what Marty wanted to do, and he wanted to ship it on all platforms, and I said, 'Let's go do that.'"

A notable benefit for players on Xbox, even if some games go to PlayStation, is that all first-party titles are part of a vast ecosystem across Xbox hardware and PCs. Buy one copy, play anywhere: it's an easy sell to make, especially when it comes to something like Doom. Have a casual playthrough on something like your Xbox in the living room, but when things get tough, jump over to your PC to dominate the hellions.

Buying the game on PlayStation doesn't carry that freedom across devices. Instead, you're locked into that specific unit. That "play anywhere" when it comes to Xbox is growing soon and in a thrilling way.

What about an Xbox handheld?

Phil, we don't just want one, we need it! (Image credit: Rebecca Spear / Windows Central)

At one point, Ryan asked Phil whether a handheld was in the works. While Phil wouldn't answer the question directly, he did mentioned that Ryan should go talk to Sarah Bond instead, but ended with, "The future for us in hardware is pretty awesome. The work that the team is doing around different form factors and different ways to play. Today was about the games, but we will have time to come out and talk about the platform."

Pressing the subject, Ryan asked for a theoretical clarification on whether a handheld would be native or require some form of internet connection to stream, "I think being able to play games locally is really important." That's really all you need to know for now, isn't it?

Success is measured in more ways than one

The success of Xbox (Image credit: Windows Central)

Spencer also talked at length about the success Xbox is seeing right now, specifically on Xbox consoles. It's higher than I think any of us thought!

"Right now, we have more Xbox console users than we've ever had in the history of Xbox. The impact of Game Pass because I watch that, and I love Game Pass. But we also want people to be able to buy games. So I will go back and look. What has happened with our third-party game sales? We're up double digits every year over the last five years on Xbox consoles."

That's incredibly well done considering the ongoing gaming economy as of late. The trend started before the pandemic in 2019. That means these sales have continued to increase even as the post-pandemic gaming economy has become rather flat.

(Image credit: Amazon)

That's not the only success Phil spoke of, as Ryan also touched on the recent cultural explosion of Fallout thanks to the series on Amazon Prime. With it, he questioned the movements of Bethesda on Fallout going forward. If Todd Howard would be the one directing a potential Fallout 5, or if he was more comfortable giving it to another studio.

Phil said, "Todd's recognized the success of the TV show on his own. He doesn't need me to [tell him that]. For us, specifically, Fallout's been amazing, and yeah, Todd's kinda looking at the plans of what he's doing. I'll say Todd has recognized the success on his own and is thinking through what that means."

Well, Todd, Obsidian is a studio I've witnessed that can handle numerous projects. Heck, maybe a Coalition between the two studios? Todd had said that he loved the work they did when it came to Fallout: New Vegas, so perhaps there's a chance we all see our dream come true where a co-penned experience is created between these two juggernaut studios. Heck, why not bring in the whole family of Xbox Studios? They all seem to be cookin' hot!

Phil got to play more than a trailer. (Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

Ryan: "Have you seen the Elder Scrolls VI lately?

Phil: "I'll refrain from comment." He said, smiling.

Next came the only boos Phil deserves today. We know damn well he played it. That lucky little jerk!

Michael Hoglund

Michael has been gaming since he was five when his mother first bought a Super Nintendo from Blockbuster. Having written for a now-defunct website in the past, he's joined Windows Central as a contributor to spreading his 30+ years of love for gaming with everyone he can. His favorites include Red Dead Redemption, all the way to the controversial Dark Souls 2. 

  • xerox thievery
    Now is perfect time to close down game studios after monopoly achieved. They act like what they are doing is difficult even though they have immense commercial power.