What To Expect From Xbox's Ominous Business Update Event

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The future of Xbox will be revealed later this week. But wait a minute, didn’t they release two consoles just four years ago? What about Xbox Game Pass, that’s doing pretty well, isn’t it? Well, it looks like Microsoft’s gaming business may not be as successful as we thought, and the company is pivoting to a different, perhaps more multi-platform strategy that will end any debate about the console wars.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when multiple outlets reported rumours of Hi-Fi Rush and Sea of Thieves coming to other platforms, namely the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5. Those rumours made sense and didn’t draw too much attention - Hi-Fi Rush is a smaller game and Sea of Thieves’ live-service nature warrants a healthy influx of player base to keep it afloat. But then, more rumours of Xbox exclusives like Starfield and the upcoming Indiana Jones coming to PS5 hit the street. And then, reports of Microsoft weighing the decision to bring iconic Xbox franchises like Gears of War and Halo to PlayStation came out and, well, you can imagine the uproar on social media that followed.

Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, issues the following statement on X/Twitter addressing the rumours - “We're listening and we hear you. We've been planning a business update event for next week, where we look forward to sharing more details with you about our vision for the future of Xbox. Stay tuned.” Right on cue, we now have an announcement of a special episode of the Xbox podcast airing later this week, where “updates on the Xbox business” will be revealed.

The podcast will bring Phil Spencer, Sarah Bond and Matt Booty together to deliver what I expect to be some pretty industry-shaking news. It is now being reported that the first wave of games from Xbox releasing elsewhere will be Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment, with Sea of Thieves following suit later this year. But, there have been hints that we might get updates on the Xbox’s hardware division as well. It’s too soon to get updates on the next Xbox, but Microsoft is seemingly working on a Nintendo Switch-type hybrid device for the next generation. Spencer isn’t shying away from the idea by liking tweets from journalists regarding a handheld, only adding fuel to the fire that will be the event.

So, what exactly can we expect from the Xbox podcast/business update event? A formal announcement of Microsoft opening up the Xbox business to other console manufacturers is the most likely answer. I don’t think they will outright reveal the entire slate of games coming to PS5/Switch, as that would probably deflate excitement for upcoming Xbox exclusives. It also looks like the event will reveal Microsoft’s broader plans for gaming, which include updates on its cloud infrastructure and mobile expansion plans. An Xbox handheld to bridge the generational gap is a great solution, and Xbox has a history of teasing new hardware years ahead of release. Expect the team to position the news as something that benefits all gamers, not just Xbox console owners.

Related: Xbox Developer Direct 2024: Everything Announced

Whatever the case, it’s very apparent that these decisions are being championed by higher-up execs at Microsoft, who would be looking to expand the company’s footprint in gaming after its colossal acquisition spree. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has gone on record expressing his distaste for console exclusivity. The company hasn’t reported subscriber numbers for Xbox Game Pass in over two years and has provided data to prove that individual game sales are in a decline on its platform. Sony has also tried dipping its toes in the live-service pool but maintains a solid lead on console sales with its exclusive offerings.

The Xbox Series X|S consoles may not be enough to keep the company afloat.<p>Microsoft</p>
The Xbox Series X|S consoles may not be enough to keep the company afloat.

Microsoft

Xbox’s plan to release games day-and-date on Game Pass simply isn’t working, or at least not working well enough to satisfy Microsoft. A multi-platform strategy could very well be what Xbox needs right now, at the cost of devaluing its brand identity. But again, we’re so far removed from the Xbox 360’s heydays that the idea of an “Xbox game” has lost most of its meaning. On the other hand, we don’t want to see a complacent PlayStation, lest we forget the dark days of the PS3 generation.

The special episode of the Xbox podcast will air on February 15 at the following times:

  • 12 PM PT

  • 3 PM ET

  • 8 PM GMT