Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox division, discussed the most pressing current events in the Xbox world in his visit to IGN’s Unlocked. Highlights of the talk were a little of backstory on the Xbox Game Pass project, a little clarity on the concept behind the upcoming Project Scorpio, and a reflection on the recent number of canceled first-party projects.
Microsoft made a very interesting announcement this week when they unveiled a subscription program that allows Xbox One users to gain access to a wide catalogue of games for a monthly fee of $9.99. Spencer says that the project has been in the works for about two or three years and that the game selection will slightly vary every month, with a handful of games arriving and others going out. He also does not want the public to see it as a way to try out the games, but a fulfilling experience in itself.
As for Project Scorpio, the mysterious new hardware release for this year, Spencer likes to call it a “Premium” device, so people have the assurance that it’s not a console that is going to take over the Xbox One line. He says it’s a device for Premium customers, or “people who know what a teraflop is and 4K.”
In that regard he says that developers have control over what they want to do with the extra power that Scorpio brings, and used PS4 exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn’s performance on PS4 Pro as an example.
Talking of hardware devices, the possibility of a handheld console by Microsoft was brought up to him, to which he said they have no plans, even though you should never say never. He also considers smartphones a good platform in that regard. As for VR gaming, Spencer says it’s a place for innovation and growth and that he wants it on consoles, but at the moment he thinks the PC is the right place where developers can make it perfect before expanding.
Finally, Spencer also addressed the last few cancellations of Xbox exclusive titles, like Scalebound. He says fans are in their right to voice their concerns, and explains that when he took over the division, they were reworking their first party developments. He has learned the risks of announcing games with too much time in advance, but considers that each title has its own needs.
He mentioned Shadow of War as a type of announcement that he liked because of the short time until the release, but says that others like Xbox exclusive Sea of Thieves need more time, since they have to get public feedback in order to improve the game. He expects the game to grow in popularity as Minecraft did over time.