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Phil Spencer on Xbox One games post-launch

by William Schwartz

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Microsoft has been making a big deal over the 23 games available for Xbox One users on launch day, November 22. However, while the woes of a bad launch are well documented, another equally disconcerting problem is the lull after the launch where there is a dearth of games for a while. According to Phil Spencer, in an interview with Polygon, Microsoft is attempting to remedy those woes.

“I’m spending all of my time now playing games that are 2014 titles,” Spencer said to Polygon. “I was in Europe last week visiting Lionhead, I was at Rare, [Max: The Curse of Brotherhood developer] PressPlay up in Copenhagen talking about and playing things that are going to come out in the next year, maybe a little later. The depth of the portfolio next year is pretty incredible.” Along with the first-party exclusives, Spencer made mention of third parties, most notably Respawn with Titanfall, Bungie with Destiny and Ubisoft with Watch Dogs for the upcoming year. “I think back to the Xbox 360 launch, I don’t think we really had those mega franchises that were landing in winter to spring that we’re seeing out of third parties in that same timeframe for Xbox One,” Spencer added.

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According to Spencer, first party titles to look forward to in the upcoming year include the port of Halo: Spartan Assault, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Kinect Sports Rivals and Project Spark. He also made mention of Capy’s Below, Swery’s D4 and other titles he couldn’t make mention of. “Rolling into the next holiday, we haven’t announced everything that’s coming yet. But that lineup from first party also looks strong. I don’t mind saying that on 360, I think we had a gap. We had our launch lineup … and a couple Japanese games, but in that first half of the following year, we were a little dry from a first-party standpoint.”

He continued. “But I look at the next 18 to 24 months, and really on a month by month basis, you’re going to have something you can go out and play. It’s not really a portfolio plan that way, but when I look at the way the portfolio is laying out … I think people are going to be happy with the lineup that’s coming. And I haven’t even mentioned when Halo is coming or some of the big mega franchises.”

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While Sony made news by announcing upcoming titles in lieu of their launch, Microsoft has decided instead to focus on the launch games. “This week it’s really about what people can play at launch, and the excitement that the fans will have. I look at launch as more of a celebration with the fans than any kind of big breaking news.” However, Spencer did indicate that more gaming news during Spike’s VGX awards presentation, followed by E3 and Game Developer’s Conference.

When pressed about the upcoming Halo and Black Tusk Studios’ game, Spencer said, “We really just wanted to announce [at E3] that the studio was up and running and they were doing something.”

He did indicate, however, that more news would arise for Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive. “We did a pretty deep dive [on Quantum Break] last week while we were in Europe, and I’m feeling really good about the creative. It may be before the end of the year when we talk more about what the story and the gameplay is… We have a pretty good piece that I’m trying to coerce people into putting out before the end of the year … showing the full Remedy vision, with Sam [Lake] giving a pretty good description of how the game works with some new gameplay footage.”

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In regards to Sunset Overdrive: “We’re playing a full section of the game and feeling really good about the open world gameplay that they’ve put together,” he said. “I like the investment around new IP at the launch of a new console.”

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