Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks, you’ve heard the rumors of Microsoft wanting to bring their Xbox titles to other platforms. While this isn’t anything new, as Phil Spencer had mentioned this a while back. As well as several Microsoft published titles already existing on the iOS platform. Things got really interesting when the 2019 Game Developer Conference rolled around.
At the event, Microsoft hosted a conference called “Xbox Live: Growing & Engaging Your Gaming Community Across Platforms”, which discussed a number of things. Including talk of a new SDK that would connect not only iOS, and Android players. But also Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox players as well. This would be done via services, utilizing Xbox Live and possibly a yet unknown service. This was practically another signal that Microsoft was looking at Gaas (Games as a Service) to not only host their published games onto other platforms but to connect all players.
Yet, some see this as a bad thing. Worrying that the Xbox brand might fade away. I don’t think that’s the case and in fact, I see this as a guarantee that Xbox will be around for quite some time.
Let’s address the elephant in the room
Mind you, I’m not going to sit here and lecture you on why this needs to happen, as there are multiple articles and videos out there that are saying the same thing. Instead, I wanted to address those who are looking at this from the wrong angle. Yes, this definitely seems positive for everyone. Microsoft gets to expand the Xbox brand, more games are played by other people and the company makes a boatload more money. What’s wrong there? Nothing, if you ask me. However, there are those who are fearful that the Xbox brand could be diluted. That may be the Xbox brand could go the way of Sega.
Unless Microsoft makes a series of mistakes that are so unfounded that it shakes the planet to its core. They’ll never become like Sega. Sega’s issues were due to mismanagement, fighting between Sega of Japan and Sega of America. Which lead to a mountain of mistakes; the 32X, the Sega CD, Sega CDX, Sega Saturn and ultimately the Sega Dreamcast – which was a damned good console. One that didn’t get the chance to live up to it’s potential thanks to Sega’s interoffice blunders, among other things.
Microsoft is a different beast, and the company is 100% behind the Xbox brand. With both Phil Spencer and Satya Nadella at the helm, the brand has ever been in better hands. So fears that Xbox will become the next Sega is completely unfounded. As far as Xbox hardware is concerned, Microsoft is committed to the brand. Sure, using the service to play Xbox games on another platform is a great idea. However, Microsoft’s stance would still be that the Xbox One (or whatever the next system is) is the best place to play the game. That’s just like watching a movie on Netflix. Sure, it’s great you can watch that movie anywhere, but if you were to watch it on a Blu-ray, you’d get the full experience. That’s what Microsoft is saying here.
As for hardware, let’s not forget that Microsoft is working on multiple next-gen Xbox systems. From “Scarlett”, to “Lockhart”, “Anaconda”. Not to mention the award-winning Xbox Adaptive Controller, and Project X, their streaming service (more info to come on that later). It’s safe to say that the hardware portion isn’t going away anytime soon.
The fact of the matter is, the gaming landscape is changing and Microsft is adapting. It’s no longer the traditional gaming race that many of us are used to. With Google, Amazon, Apple, Shadow and even a few cable TV providers getting their own gaming services in order, the next generation of gaming is heating up. I’ve even had to a chance to check out Google’s Project Stream and let me tell you that they’re on to something. And Microsoft knows this, which is why we’re seeing this unconventional push. We’re at the point where streaming is going to be a big component for the next several decades. You’d be silly if you through Microsoft would sit out on this.
My take: To be frank, Microsoft has a great idea and getting their games on every platform only goes to ensure the brand. My own concern is that what could happen if they end up putting all their games onto whatever service is coming. As much as I hate exclusivity, it does drive sales and it does keep branding alive. Even still, the fact that one day your friends could be playing Cuphead or Ori on the Switch or whatever platform that want. Well, that’s a thing of the future.
I’ve always wanted a unified platform where people (not gamers) could play whatever game they wanted. Without the need to purchase another platform for X reasons. This is where Microsoft is headed. Whatever form this service takes, there’s no denying that Microsoft will be the first to transcend the boundaries of conventional gaming. Not only are they shaping the future of Xbox, but they’re also helping drive the future of gaming.
To me, that’s not a bad thing at all.