Gamescom 2023 continues into its second day and as promised, Xbox is having its biggest presence ever at the event. It has already been quite a showing with the Starfield opening demo and the first teaser for the upcoming Fallout TV show from Amazon Prime Video.
Xbox chief and Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer has had a lot to say at Gamescom 2023 on a wide range of topics in an interview with Eurogamer. Let’s try and break it all down.
Xbox on Mobile
It’s no secret that Microsoft is planning to create a “next-gen” Xbox mobile gaming store sometime in 2024. And it’s also clear that Microsoft’s pending $68 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard King is a big part of that endeavor, as laid out by Spencer.
The reason we’re in the acquisition discussion with Activision Blizzard King is around their mobile capability,” said Spencer. “Because it’s just something we don’t have.
“We obviously already have Call of Duty on our platform, we already have Diablo on our platform. So it’s not about new games that Xbox players don’t have access to today. It is about a capability on mobile, and some broader ambitions that we have on the largest gaming platform, which is mobile phones.”
Don’t expect Xbox Series X|S prices to drop any time soon
Spencer told interviewers at Gamecom that we shouldn’t wait for current-gen hardware prices to be cut anytime in the near future.
“…you’re not going to be able to start with a console that’s $500 thinking it’s gonna get to 200 bucks. That won’t happen. Because the core components that you use – you’re used to Moore’s Law shooting up and to the right – but your components… you can’t buy them anymore as a hardware maker because nobody’s making that kind of RAM or other components.”
“It’s not the way it used to be where you could take a spec and then ride it out over 10 years and ride the price points down. It’s why you see console pricing relatively flat.”
In fact, both Sony and Microsoft have increased hardware price points (at least in certain regions) for their current-gen consoles within the last 12 months.
“The prices aren’t coming down. We see it now, and that’s why we did Xbox Series S. I know there’s a bunch of questions like, ‘what is it doing?’ We wanted to make sure we had a sub-$300 console because we want to grow, and we think an entry level price point for many new families or players coming into the market is going to be important.”
The future of the Xbox Series S
And sticking to the topic of the Series S, Spencer was asked about the ongoing debate over Microsoft’s less powerful entry level current-gen offering, and whether it was holding back the Series X due to the parity mandate.
“I don’t see a world where we drop S. I want to make sure games are available on both, that’s our job as a platform holder and we’re committed to that with our partners.”
The debate over the Series S feature parity clause has been rekindled by the delay of Baldur’s Gate 3 on Xbox. While Larian Studios’ action-RPG is eventually headed to Xbox, in the meantime the game is enjoying enormous popularity on other platforms including PlayStation 5, Windows and even Mac.
Spencer on the closure of the Xbox 360 store and game preservation
Last week it was announced that the Xbox 360 Store would be closed down in July 2024. This has led to a renewed discussion online about games preservation. Spencer also touched on this during his interview with Eurogamer at Gamescom.
“Game reservation is critical to us at Team Xbox. One of the things we do is ship all of our games on PC, because I actually think PC is the best ecosystem for game preservation because it’s not tied to one piece of hardware.”
Spencer went on to say that the Xbox 360 community is a very small one, adding
“There’s a list of, what 220 games that are not back compat, and I have that list and I’ve got it stapled on my forehead, and like, how can we make sure [you can play them still?] How many of those are on PC?”
Hopefully, the team at Xbox will find a way to ensure these games remain accessible after the 360 Store closure.
Gamescom 2023 will run through Sunday, August 27. Stay tuned to the Xbox YouTube, Twitch and Facebook channels for more info on everything Xbox-related going on at the event.