That would be a pretty bleak outlook if true. However, I don't think they would have purchased six new studios (some of which were quite noteworthy) if they were content with the quality of their first party output.
But of the six new studios, weren't four of them already making exclusive Xbox games like Forza, State of Decay, and Gears? It's not like Microsoft was ever in jeopardy of not having Forza and Gears so I don't think it's all that big. Ninja Theory can be solid but the others? Ehhh... maybe it works out for them. And with them killing Lionhead, truly one of their best studios ever as far as 1st party game content goes, I'm just not sure they're on the right path yet.
Fair point. Though there are benefits that come from being a first party regarding funding and flexibility with the staff that Microsoft had little to no control over before the acquisition.
As Phil Spencer put it about the Forza team, "the studio has been limited to Forza Horizon games, but it will now bring its “open-world expertise to an entirely new project.”
Moreover, there's also the risk of losing out on exclusive games. Take Quantic Dream for example. "Chinese Internet conglomerate NetEasesecured a minority investment into Quantic Dream in January 2019 for an undisclosed amount. With this, Quantic Dream's chief operating officer Guillaume de Fondaumière stated that they would no longer be limited to PlayStation exclusive titles."
Lionhead may be a worrying factor, though from what I hear they haven't produced much worthy of praise in a while. The cancellation of Scalebound didn't look good though. So who knows.
Last edited by Hiku - on 14 February 2019
Maybe the backlash against MS's first party decisions became unexpectedly large some time after those decisions were made, once competing consoles began to produce many highly critically acclaimed/anticipated single player games.
To me it sounded like Phil Spencer's announcement at E3 was in direct response to that. Showing that they're listening to the fans.