Xbox’s Phil Spencer Has Thoughts on Sony Holding Back Important Exclusives From Its Subscription Service

Microsoft announced a deluge of games arriving on its subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, over the coming year and into 2020. A major upside of the Game Pass service is its day-and-date launch titles, a factor that console and service competitor Sony recently derided in an interview.

Speaking to Gameindustry.biz last week, PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan said future games like The Last of Us Part 2 wouldn’t be launching on PlayStation Now. Unlike Xbox, where both first and third-party games have been available on day one, Ryan doesn’t want “valuable” first-party IP to launch on Now.

“I don’t want to say this is what PlayStation Now is going to be like forever,” Ryan told GIBiz. “But certainly right now, given how some of our first-party IP is incredibly special and valuable, we just want to treat them with amazing care and respect, and have those launches be clean and pure.”

At this week’s X019 event in London, Eurogamer quoted Ryan’s comment to Xbox chief Phil Spencer, to get his take on it. They asked Spencer if putting a game, Gears 5 for example, on a subscription platform detracts from its perceived greatness, which Spencer rebuffs, drawing comparisons to Game of Thrones, which aired on premium subscription service HBO.

“I think those games can be and will be very special,” Spencer told Eurogamer. “I think Gears 5 can be a game of the year award winner. I think Outer Worlds can be a game of the year award winner. The fact it shipped inside of Game Pass and found more players does not take away from the experience. In fact it’s more inviting to more people.”

Spencer mentions how Game Pass has brought more players to new genres and games they wouldn’t have tried otherwise. Game Pass works, he says, and it’s been part of what’s allowed Microsoft to acquire so many studios over the past few years.

“Gamers in general, there is sometimes a tendency that the more walls we put up around things, the more valuable it is,” Spencer says. “But if we’re focused on growing the games industry, we should not be less accessible. We should be more accessible. We had this argument for years over cross-play.”

Spencer says Microsoft is building an “Xbox business for the long run,” as evidenced by Game Pass. With a flood of third-party titles coming to the service, it’s hard to argue it isn’t working.

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