Xbox Game Pass image featuring games like Halo and Doom
Image via Xbox

Microsoft says Game Pass will only be on Xbox, confirms it isn’t abandoning consoles

Consoles are just one key to Xbox's new plans.

Tales of the upcoming demise of Xbox consoles were greatly exaggerated as multiple executives have now confirmed hardware remains a “critical component” of the Xbox experience. And while Game Pass will remain an exclusive draw to that ecosystem, the company is also focusing on players presently using other devices. 

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With multiple reports of Xbox exclusive titles making the leap to PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch, Microsoft needed to wrangle the narrative back into its grasp with a special business edition of the Xbox podcast on Feb. 15. This included a roundtable of Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer,  president of Xbox Sarah Bond, and head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty discussing the future of hardware development and the way exclusives work within an altered approach to delivering games. 

A Mammorest in Palworld attacking with its trunk raised.
Palworld is a recent example of Game Pass success. Image via Pocketpair

Xbox plans to bring four unnamed games to other platforms beyond PC in the near future as it tests the waters for a new content distribution model. Booty said this is partially due to a gradual “inversion” in the video game market where the platform users play games on has become less important than the game itself. “Today, big games like a Roblox or a Fortnite could actually be bigger than any one platform. And that really has changed the way that we think about things,” Booty said. 

According to Booty, Xbox is operating under three core principles for its first-party content—every game will be on Xbox platforms, all games will go on Game Pass from day one, and Game Pass will only be offered on Xbox consoles. And considering Microsoft also confirmed that Game Pass has 34 million total paid subscribers, including those who were previously Xbox Live Gold members, that is a sizable audience to keep locked in on its consoles—and Game Pass PC.

This reaffirms Spencer’s previous comments about keeping Game Pass localized to Microsoft’s core platforms, that being Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, but this is an ever-changing market. The goal of bringing exclusive content to other platforms is to serve the “long-term health of Xbox” by trying to reach the most players possible where it makes sense to do so, which in this case is putting four games that can bring “good brand value” to Xbox by existing on other platforms.  

“I do have a fundamental belief that over the next five or 10 years, exclusive games, games that are exclusive to one piece of hardware, are going to be a smaller and smaller part of the game industry,” Spencer said. “And that’s not some great insight because if you look at the last 10 years and what the biggest games are today, it’s a natural place—whether it’s one console in PC, multiple consoles, mobile console in PC—you see big games landing on multiple platforms.”

The bottom line remains Microsoft has no plans to abandon Xbox as a hardware or console offering, it is just evolving as the brand looks to grow the “Xbox experience” even further. Whether that be through bringing games to other platforms or expanding Game Pass to include more titles like Diablo 4, expansion is the key to this updated strategy. “It’s not about games in service of a device, but, rather, the devices that people want to play on should be in service of making the games as big and popular as they possibly could be,” Booty said. 

Bond also teased that the next generation of Xbox hardware is already in the works and will be the “largest technical leap you will have ever seen,” but did not elaborate any further.


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Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.