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Forums - Microsoft Discussion - Papa Phil discusses GamePass, games as a service, monetization, first party content, exclusives, etc

https://www.gamereactor.eu/phil-spencer-on-exclusivity-monetisation-and-game-development/

Pretty lengthy interview full of interesting stuff. Among the more interesting stuff, Microsoft isn't trying to dictate right now what can or cannot happen in the future with ZeniMax games because legally, they can't. So people should probably remember that when they read a Microsoft interview and are upset that there is supposed confusion about whether the next Elder Scrolls or DOOM will be Microsoft exclusive. It's also why I have tread carefully when wording the deal, it's not done yet. It won't be done until next year. All that was announced is that they intend to purchase them.

First of all, I would like to say that we haven't acquired ZeniMax. We have announced our intention to acquire ZeniMax. It is going through regulatory approval and we don't see any issues there. We expect early in 2021 the deal will close. But I say that because I want people to know, I'm not sitting down with Todd Howard and Robert Altman and planning their future. Because I'm currently not allowed to do that, that would be illegal. Your question is completely inbound, but I get a lot of questions right now: "is this game exclusive? Is this game exclusive?" And right now, that is not my job in regards to ZeniMax. My job is not to sit down and go through their portfolio and dictate what happens.


Admits that putting games on PC hurts the strength of the Xbox console, but it doesn't really matter in how they measure things:

The fact that we sell our games on PC does undermine one of the value propositions in that it doesn't force somebody to go buy our console. Our high-level goal inside of our team, of how we measure ourselves, is how many people are playing on Xbox. And when we say 'playing on Xbox' it doesn't mean an Xbox console. It means somebody who is logging in and playing a part of our ecosystem, whether first-party or third-party. And it could be on an Android phone. It could be on a Switch. It could be on a PC. That's how we think about it.

A common complaint of GamePass is that Microsoft will supposedly force developers to make cheap games loaded with microtransactions, Papa Phil rejects that nonsense:

We don't dictate at all the business model behind the games that are built, but I will say, I think that a healthy games industry, the more business models works for video games. So I think retail is an important part of video games, I mean I'm buying my games and I want that to continue to flourish. We've seen growth in subscriptions like Game Pass, free-to-play is obviously a huge business model for video games. I think there's other business models we could potentially bring into video games that could help, but the diversity of business models should be a strength for us as an industry. So for first-party, I would like us to kind of experiment with the different models, because I don't think we want to be beholden, as an industry, to one model to rule them all, if we were everything would be free-to-play, because free-to-play is clearly the biggest business model on the planet today, not even close. But I don't think we want one business model, I think we want gamers to have choice in how they engage and pay for the games that they're playing.

Another common "concern" is that GamePass will be loaded with GaaS titles. He thinks the opposite, that a stable of GaaS titles would not benefit GamePass. I agree and have been preaching this for months. The service doesn't work if everyone is just subscribing for one or two games. The strength of the service is in the value it offers, and the value is based on the wealth of content you get access to.

The last thing I want in Game Pass is that there's one game that everybody is playing forever, that's not a gaming content subscription, that's a one-game subscription, that's WoW, right? So for us, having games in the subscription that have a beginning, middle, and end, and then they go on to play the next game, maybe those are single-player narrative-driven games, I just finished Tell Me Why, an amazing game from DontNod, those games can be really strong for us in the subscription. In many ways, they're actually better than one or two games that are soaking up all the engagement in the subscription. I want a long tail of a lot of games that people are playing, and I think the diversity of online multiplayer versus single-player, we have to support the diversity there, and that's my goal. If anything I'd like to see more single-player games from our first-party, just because that over time we've kind of grown organically to be more multiplayer-driven as an organisation.

Also says that he is most excited about the new games from both Compulsion, and The Initiative. I have no idea what Initiative is making, but I have heard from numerous people that the Compulsion game is very innovative and very exciting, can't wait to see what they are making.

There's a lot more in the interview. It's a great read into the mindset of the Xboss and where he is taking Xbox in the future.



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I like that he spelled out that one of the biggest value proposition of consoles is taking games away from other platforms that could easily be ported there.



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vivster said:

I like that he spelled out that one of the biggest value proposition of consoles is taking games away from other platforms that could easily be ported there.

Both sides do it. But difference is making a dev 1st party legitimizes it where as doing it with 3rd parties is controversial 



sales2099 said:
vivster said:

I like that he spelled out that one of the biggest value proposition of consoles is taking games away from other platforms that could easily be ported there.

Both sides do it. But difference is making a dev 1st party legitimizes it where as doing it with 3rd parties is controversial 

The truth is that buying a dev to rob games off other platforms doesn't "legitimize" anything. It's even more shitty than timed exclusives. But console fanboys like to peddle that tale to make themselves feel better.

Literally any dev can develop games for multiple platforms, there is no such thing as a 1st party dev. There are only devs that have been forbidden to port their games to other platforms.



If you demand respect or gratitude for your volunteer work, you're doing volunteering wrong.

vivster said:
sales2099 said:

Both sides do it. But difference is making a dev 1st party legitimizes it where as doing it with 3rd parties is controversial 

The truth is that buying a dev to rob games off other platforms doesn't "legitimize" anything. It's even more shitty than timed exclusives. But console fanboys like to peddle that tale to make themselves feel better.

Literally any dev can develop games for multiple platforms, there is no such thing as a 1st party dev. There are only devs that have been forbidden to port their games to other platforms.

The way you see things is probably the problem.  You see it as a company purchasing a developer to rob you of that developer.  The business is not looking at it that way.  They see an opportunity since the dev was up for sale and they evaluated whether having their games under their ecosystem helps to broaden the appeal of their systems.  You are not robbed of anything because you as a consumer still have a choice to go to the new system or not.  

You see things as if every developer wants to develop for all systems while the developer who just sold to a one platform company feels relief that they only have to code for one platform to make ends meet.

Games are a business and there are real consequences to not selling.  Everyone wants that big dollar payout including devs and yes they will make decisions to make sure they get paid just like everyone else.  Their is this gamer pie in the sky type of reality where all devs only think about what the gamers want and then their is reality where devs care about what they want and in the process make a product that they hope appeals to a large enough segment of people.  Not every Dev or studio wants to be independent.  Some like the umbrella of a big corp like Sony, Nintendo or MS footing the bills.  If a dev studio or publisher is up for sell then it would be silly to leave them on the table hoping that none of your competitors pick them up.

Purchasing a Dev no matter if they are first, second or third party for a business is a business decision on the prospect of that developer helping them to grow their business and not to please gamers on competing ecosystems. MS has the cash and they see the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple coming in with deep pockets. Hell, even Netflix is coming into the game.  The gaming landscape is going to change big time, so gamers better saddle up and get ready for the gold rush.



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LudicrousSpeed said:

https://www.gamereactor.eu/phil-spencer-on-exclusivity-monetisation-and-game-development/

Admits that putting games on PC hurts the strength of the Xbox console, but it doesn't really matter in how they measure things:

The fact that we sell our games on PC does undermine one of the value propositions in that it doesn't force somebody to go buy our console. Our high-level goal inside of our team, of how we measure ourselves, is how many people are playing on Xbox. And when we say 'playing on Xbox' it doesn't mean an Xbox console. It means somebody who is logging in and playing a part of our ecosystem, whether first-party or third-party. And it could be on an Android phone. It could be on a Switch. It could be on a PC. That's how we think about it.

To condense that

XBOX console - not important

XBOX gamepass - crucial



Jumpinbeans said:
LudicrousSpeed said:

https://www.gamereactor.eu/phil-spencer-on-exclusivity-monetisation-and-game-development/

Admits that putting games on PC hurts the strength of the Xbox console, but it doesn't really matter in how they measure things:

The fact that we sell our games on PC does undermine one of the value propositions in that it doesn't force somebody to go buy our console. Our high-level goal inside of our team, of how we measure ourselves, is how many people are playing on Xbox. And when we say 'playing on Xbox' it doesn't mean an Xbox console. It means somebody who is logging in and playing a part of our ecosystem, whether first-party or third-party. And it could be on an Android phone. It could be on a Switch. It could be on a PC. That's how we think about it.

To condense that

XBOX console - not important

XBOX gamepass - crucial

Not really.

Try Xbox console - important

Game Pass - important



vivster said:
sales2099 said:

Both sides do it. But difference is making a dev 1st party legitimizes it where as doing it with 3rd parties is controversial 

The truth is that buying a dev to rob games off other platforms doesn't "legitimize" anything. It's even more shitty than timed exclusives. But console fanboys like to peddle that tale to make themselves feel better.

Literally any dev can develop games for multiple platforms, there is no such thing as a 1st party dev. There are only devs that have been forbidden to port their games to other platforms.

Ya that’s straight up false. 1st party developer are owned by one of the Big 3. They make games as they see fit, because that’s just how business ownership works. 

3rd parties aren’t owned by any console manufacturer and therefore it is in their best interest to make games for as many platforms as possible to maximize revenue. When a console manufacturer buys exclusive rights to a 3rd party game, that’s stealing a game for the masses from what is traditionally a masses developer. Being first party nullifies that. 



Jumpinbeans said:
LudicrousSpeed said:

https://www.gamereactor.eu/phil-spencer-on-exclusivity-monetisation-and-game-development/

Admits that putting games on PC hurts the strength of the Xbox console, but it doesn't really matter in how they measure things:

The fact that we sell our games on PC does undermine one of the value propositions in that it doesn't force somebody to go buy our console. Our high-level goal inside of our team, of how we measure ourselves, is how many people are playing on Xbox. And when we say 'playing on Xbox' it doesn't mean an Xbox console. It means somebody who is logging in and playing a part of our ecosystem, whether first-party or third-party. And it could be on an Android phone. It could be on a Switch. It could be on a PC. That's how we think about it.

To condense that

XBOX console - not important

XBOX gamepass - crucial

To condense further

XBOX - crucial 



Jumpinbeans said:
LudicrousSpeed said:

https://www.gamereactor.eu/phil-spencer-on-exclusivity-monetisation-and-game-development/

Admits that putting games on PC hurts the strength of the Xbox console, but it doesn't really matter in how they measure things:

The fact that we sell our games on PC does undermine one of the value propositions in that it doesn't force somebody to go buy our console. Our high-level goal inside of our team, of how we measure ourselves, is how many people are playing on Xbox. And when we say 'playing on Xbox' it doesn't mean an Xbox console. It means somebody who is logging in and playing a part of our ecosystem, whether first-party or third-party. And it could be on an Android phone. It could be on a Switch. It could be on a PC. That's how we think about it.

To condense that

XBOX console - not important

XBOX gamepass - crucial

Well to be fair they have 2 different spec consoles compared to Sony’s 1. Technically that’s double the commitment to consoles. They would prefer you play their consoles because everything they sell is on their tailor made device.

However, their expansion and choice initiative has a point. An example is take a Steam user. PC gamer to the bone. Has no intention of buying a console, much less a Xbox. Instead of MS trying to market to these guys (futile), just bring the games to them. A 30% cut from Steam is better then $0 from not giving the option at all. 

And plus the image of giving options and lower barriers to play Xbox games gives them a really good image. In a age of increased corporate distrust, the value proposition they bring can resonate with people.