While Sunday is usually a day of rest and preparation for the week ahead, this last one also saw some big reports swirl around Xbox. Several of those have further fueled beliefs that Microsoft and Xbox are looking to shift towards third-party options, including PlayStation.
Let’s start with the reports themselves. Over at The Verge, Tom Warren reports from a source familiar with Microsoft’s plans that Bethesda is considering bringing Indiana Jones and the Great Circle to PlayStation 5. Furthermore, a new “multi-platform approach” is emerging within Microsoft, as The Verge reports, which would lead to some titles remaining exclusive and others heading to external platforms in the future.
The second match lighting the powder keg was a report from XboxEra. The outlet says that, according to its sources, Microsoft is planning a PS5 launch for Starfield after the release of its announced Shattered Space expansion. Additionally, XboxEra’s report claims Microsoft is investing more into PS5 dev kits to support “ongoing development efforts.”
Waiting for Microsoft
It is really, really important to stress at this point: Microsoft has not formally announced anything. I don’t mention this to douse the discussion, but rather, to temper expectations. Also, to pre-emptively quell some fires.
Because, as Kotaku’s Ethan Gach shared last night, some Xbox fans got whipped into a spiral over these reports. A whole lot doom-saying, speculation, and general fervor spun up around these. I spent most of my day Sunday blissfully offline, but when I opened the cursed bird app that evening, it was like the scene from Community where Troy comes back with the pizza and finds everything on fire.
Is it time to panic? No, not really. And not even just because none of this has been outright confirmed; that’s partially it, sure, but I wouldn’t personally be surprised to see some or most of these plans to come to fruition. Xbox could probably use a shift in strategy, and looking to a multi-platform approach might at least provide an alternative.
As Giant Bomb’s Jeff Grubb pointed out, the dust feels like it’s settling on this particular arc of the console wars. Companies seem to be moving on, and figuring out what’s next. Questions would still remain about Microsoft’s desire to even still sell Xboxes, if they moved to a more third-party approach; but considering Valve makes Steam Decks and still makes games, the idea’s still got merits.
Platforms have already been trying to expand their horizons, too. After the success of projects like Sonic the Hedgehog, video game IP owners have been trying to cash in on a gaming-friendly environment in showbiz, at home and in the theaters. Whether Microsoft has been as successful in that department is a little more up-in-the-air, though Halo is still chugging along.
Point being, avenues for revenue could shift. I think we saw this best in the Epic v. Apple case, which not only resulted in huge swathes of discovery around the feud, but highlighted the issue at the center: platforms. No, not the Mario kind.
Epic wanted Fortnite on iPhones without having to go through Apple’s shop, which took its cut of profits from V-Bucks sales. And Apple, obviously, wanted that cut. The ensuing feud, alongside a similar one between Epic and Google, highlights what could soon be a factor around Microsoft games heading to PlayStation. Does Microsoft think the expanded buyer-base is worth ceding a cut to its long-time console competition? Is Sony willing to let Microsoft move copies of Starfield on PlayStation, in exchange for that cut?
A lot of current concerns narrow in about whether this means the end of a physical, tangible Xbox, and the possible devaluation of libraries built on those platforms. I’ll admit, if this all pans out, it does leave me curious about what the next box looks like. Indeed, that disc-less Xbox plan that drifted around during the Microsoft-FTC case might be a bit more revealing about where they’re heading than we’d expected.
There’s always been a bit of an air that some, not all, of Xbox’s games could head to other platforms. Especially with Activision Blizzard now under the umbrella, that looks even more possible. But things have also been shifting at Xbox pretty rapidly. After the big buyout, the company cut almost 2,000 jobs. Maybe a new plan is in order. We’ll have to see what Microsoft says, after all the furor dies down.
Honestly, if this means more people wind up playing Pentiment, then I say it’s a good plan.