Phil Spencer acknowledges ‘it’s been too long’ since Xbox’s last big first-party game

Microsoft’s head of gaming has acknowledged it’s been a quiet year for first-party Xbox games, but claimed that 2023 will be far busier for the platform holder.

By the end of 2022 five games will have been published by Xbox Game Studios this year, but only one of those – Obsidian’s Pentiment – will be an all-new game developed internally.

The others are indie-developed As Dusk Falls, a Forza 5 expansion, an Age of Empires re-release and Obsidian’s Grounded (which has been in Game Preview for two years).

“One thing we’ve definitely heard loud and clear is it’s been too long since we’ve shipped what people would say is a big first-party game,” Phil Spencer said on the Same Brain videocast.

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“We can have our excuses with Covid and other things, but in the end I know people invest in our platform and they want to have great games.”

Spencer went on to claim that the 2023 line-up would be far stronger for Xbox, and that the sort of pandemic-caused production delays, which saw its original big holiday release Starfield pushed into 2023, were now in the rearview mirror.

“We’re excited about 2023 and we’ve talked about games that are coming,” he said. “Those games are tracking well [and] we’re out of what Covid did to the production schedule.

“And as an industry we have fewer games this holiday than we’ve had in a while, when you just think about the launches. Call of Duty is coming, God of War is coming – which is great – Nintendo’s had a good year. But in general I would say we’ve been a little light.

“But I look at 2023 and there’s a great line-up of games coming that I’m excited about. Getting our first real Xbox first-party games out of Bethesda, having them ship with Redfall and Starfield, will be a lot of fun.”

Spencer went on to claim that Xbox was doing “a lot more work” on PC, and that it would launch a big update for its Xbox app in a few weeks.

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Spencer claimed earlier this week that Game Pass growth on console is “slowing down”, but that PC subscriptions had seen a huge 159% increase year-on-year.

“I’ve seen growth slow down, mainly because at some point you’ve reached everybody on console that wants to subscribe,” he said at WSJ Tech Live.

In the same interview, Spencer claimed that Xbox Game Pass is “10-15% of (its) overall revenue” and that the service is profitable for the company.