Xbox isn't leaving you behind - But it is moving forward


Well written, and I definitely agree with your side note about how “Play it Day One on Xbox Game Pass” means nothing to the average consumer (who’s not already familiar with the platform.)

They need to shout from the rooftops that you can “play this game and 400 more with Xbox Game Pass for just $9.99 a month.” You know… give the people some actual information.


Really good article. I would have liked to read your thoughts @Sikamikanico on how this new direction could affect Xbox consoles sales and therefore third party support, given that this is a major concern for Xbox fans atm.

I think you’ll know the answer when the next generation Xbox releases in 2026. If it does great and takes off in sales, there should be no worries but if it flops, then chances are that they’ll be done with hardware. This is how I see it regardless of what anyone from Microsoft says because as has been proven time and time again, you can’t believe anything they say, especially now.


Yeah they ain’t going to be done with hardware anyway Great job on the article. Agree with it

First of all, I want to preface this by saying that this was a very well written and argued article. I’ve always enjoyed reading your writing Jon, and my disagreements with this can be chalked up as much by differences in personality and worldview as anything else.

With that being said, I can’t say I fully agree with all points raised in this article.

“Is the average current Xbox customer going to “swap” their platform of choice and effectively walk away from all their games on Xbox because Microsoft publish some exclusive games elsewhere later down the line? Microsoft probably think this is unlikely.”

Taking into account that this is an assumption on your end and positioned as such, I do not disagree that Microsoft thinks this to be the case. Where I do disagree is I feel there are intangibles that go beyond the cold, hard, statistics and the almost myopic commitment to them has proven time and time again to be Microsoft’s folly.

I’m sure the statistics on paper showed the Xbox One reveal response would be in parts divisive if not apocalyptic. Obviously, history shows the latter to be the case instead of the former, in part because it viewed these changes in a vacuum instead of as part of a fluid collective market.

Sea of Thieves going to PlayStation, on its own, is not going to cause an Xbox player to switch ecosystems. However, when you couple this with headlines on reputable newssites proclaiming Xbox “waved the white flag” in the console wars, and Phil in an over-attempt to be transparent refusing to draw a line in the sand, can you blame people for wanting to get out or at the very least slow spending?

What good is having a library of games maybe compatible on next gen hardware or PC when you are more confident they WILL be on the competitor’s console? If you own an Xbox One right now and are looking to upgrade, why would you choose only Xbox games when you can get PlayStation PLUS seemingly many Xbox games with a PS5, for the same price or cheaper than a Series X? Game consumers are stickier than most but they are still elastic, and when your product id positioned by other stakeholders in a way that makes it seem on the out, at a certain point a sunk cost is a sunk cost and you reject the fallacy.

“There is no growth there, and instead, we see Sony and Microsoft fighting over the same sized pie, with Nintendo enjoying the fact that many gamers treat the Switch as an “additional” purchase alongside their main platform.”

I am largely inclined to agree here on a pure unit basis. The console market is shrinking. However, in other metrics, the console market is growing. Most notably in revenue and retention. Satya expressed as much: January 2024 was Xbox’s best on record for MAUs on Console.

Infinite growth is a capitalist joke, but I take issue with the idea that console growth is squeezed out. The problem is, a PlayStation or Nintendo customer is of significantly less value to Microsoft. Both platforms shave 30% off the top, and Phil admitted under oath that Sony uses the 30% they get from Xbox titles to disenfranchise Xbox owners. Xbox also loses the 30% cut they get on every title purchased within their ecosystem in the event someone switches to a competing platform.

While the market is stagnant on a per-unit basis, there is still blood in the stone, and Microsoft seems to be gambling that the hit to the Xbox brand, reputation and evangelists + the hit from Sony harming Xbox customers with input foreclosure deals will be made redundant by increased gains from their 70% cut. This is a risky proposition.

“Gen Z Gamers aren’t buying $70 games”

Anecdotally, I don’t believe this to be the case. People continue to purchase the right game, regardless of pricepoint.

“So when I see Live Service games like Sea of Thieves coming to PlayStation 5, I totally understand the ‘why’. You remove the barriers of access, grow the games audience and give more value to the IP. And IP value is important here. If we look at Grounded, for example – it’s getting a TV show. So of course, having the game available in more places helps grow the value of that IP, so that when that TV show hits? You’re not reliant on only Xbox and PC players engaging with it.”

I don’t disagree on a game by game basis there can be benefits to porting, but again it views things in a vacuum. Xbox has spent 6 years making SoT a pillar franchise of the platform. It has appeared on chip bags, pop cans, showcase slots, Gamestop ads, the Game Pass subscription cards. But by expanding it elsewhere, you remove that association. Moreover, you send a message that if a game this intrinsically tied to the Xbox platform can go elsewhere, everything can. In which case, if you were on the fence on engaging in the ecosystem, why would you?

As for the TV series, why is Xbox obligated to encourage growth of the TV show by expanding access? Did Sony port Gran Turismo to Xbox to increase Box Office of the movies? If anything, Transmedia is designed to bring the person to the property, not the property designed to bring folks to Transmedia.

“Hi-Fi Rush, the incredible new franchise developed by Tango Gameworks, was a wonderful surprise for the Xbox brand. Do they leave this undermarketed, shadow-dropped game as is, or do they try to grow its value by getting it in the hands of more players? If I was in charge of making money as a business for Xbox, I know what I’d think about doing”

How does getting it in the hands of players increase its value though? If anything, it decreases the value of the Xbox brand and ecosystem. What was once a viable point of differentiation is now accessible anywhere, and while this can improve discovery of a fantastic game, this comes at the cost of the ecosystem and brand trust.

“Pentiment, a more niche title, shows to me at least – and this is entirely conjecture at this point – the desire to value your creators and talent. Think about it this way – do you want to keep this super niche passion project sitting on the smallest platform (Xbox) and PC, or do you keep the legendary game designer Josh Sawyer and team happy by publishing the game everywhere?”

I agree there is a benefit to creators here but conversely, this again negatively impacts the ecosystem. Where do they draw the line? Would Halo on all platforms be good for 343? Should Clockwork Revolution hit PS5 for Brian Fargo? How do you weigh what is “right” for talent with what is “right” for the ecosystem? Unless you paint with broad brushes, you can’t. Why does Josh get his cake while Todd doesn’t?

“Despite the incredible value Game Pass provides to most Xbox console gamers today, its growth has stalled. Why? A complete slump in a console sales, particularly across Europe is one reason, but the other is that, and this is conjecture on my part – Microsoft have already sold the subscription to all the hardcore gamers that want it. The challenge for Team Xbox now is, how to convince the wider masses to buy in.”

I agree with this, but headlines like “Sea of Thieves has features only on PS5” and “Xbox winding down the console wars” don’t help this push.

“Side note – Honestly Xbox, saying “Play it Day One on Xbox Game Pass” doesn’t mean ANYTHING to the average consumer. You want to grow the subscription base? Try some adverts targeting normal people – mums and dads who – I guarantee you – resent paying £60 a pop for the latest games. They don’t really know what “Play it Day One on Xbox Game Pass” actually means.”


“In Microsoft’s eyes, the subscription service of Xbox Game Pass is the new exclusive, and in itself, any subscription service worth it’s salt is one fuelled by exclusive content.”

I agree, but then, if they port this content elsewhere and continue to license their content to PS+, how do they achieve this?

“Due to the sheer size of Microsoft Gaming now, it’s an understandable push for growth that no platform holder has ever had opportunity for before.”

Conversely, Sony has 8 exclusives for every 1 of Xbox’s. The size is what leads to equality and a more competitive marketplace, no?

“I expect this ‘investigation’ into broader multiplatform releases to go way beyond a mere four games, and you shouldn’t be surprised if and when it does”


“Of course, for many in the industry struggling with this new way of doing things, none are suffering more than the Xbox faithful.”

And this is ultimately the problem. The Xbox faithful have been more than patient over the years. The Red Ring of Death. The Xbox One Debacle, the Halo Infinite delay, the barren 2022. When I bought into the console last gen, Xbox had just announced a new slate of developers to make AAA exclusive games. By now, excluding Playground, I am about to get the first of those next month. And it may not even be exclusive for that long.

See also Bethesda. 3 exclusives, 1 didn’t last, 1 was an objective disappointment. After 2 PS5 exclusives.

Not everyone values exclusivity but a fuck of a lot of people do, and it cannot be pretended MS didn’t sell two generations on this.

“The point, I think, is to underline to all the existing fans of Xbox that everything they love about the platform, from the best in class service and subscriptions, parental controls and of course, the most important thing – awesome video games – isn’t going anywhere. They’re going to continue to make Xbox the best place (outside of super powerful PC’s) to play Xbox content.”

But the games are, and frankly, best place to play is subjective. But the fact that Pentiment had double the framerate on launch on PS5 and HFR better shadows plays into the idea that Xbox is leaving behind their core consumers, even if this is frivolous in a vaccuum. The PS5 Pro will only make this disparity worse.

"Try, if you can, to disconnect your brain from the traditional console market way of doing things.

Rather than duking it out for supremacy among a user base that isn’t growing to obtain hardware leadership in an increasingly connected, digital world – Instead – think about a world where your experience is prioritised; where you can choose where to play, and on what, and with who, and how to pay for it, well…

…the future of Xbox doesn’t sound so bad at all, does it?"

But I don’t get to cgoose where to play on what with who. I didn’t want to buy a PS5 to play Spider Man and FF7. At the time, I HAD to buy one to play those games. I even feel duped as they went to PC after.

This future is great, but once again it feels like everyone but the people who bought an Xbox are along for the ride. They get to have their cake and eat it too, we waited for cake while the other guys had facefulls and when we finally got a slice, we were asked to partition it to everyone for “fairness”.

I frankly think in the long term MS will be proven right in many of their assumptions, but I also feel that doing this in the middle of the gen was the wrong move (see also PC day and date. Right move, wrong timing) and I don’t blame people for being frustrated when the promises were just about to come to fruition and it feels like the rug was pulled under them.

Nobody owns an Xbox 5, but just shy of the population of Canada owns an Xbox Series X or S, and many of them feel what they were promised is not what was delivered. And frankly, the frustration makes sense.

Is it selfish? Yeah, probably. Is it myopic, you fucking betcha. Is it influenced by 40 years of a suboptimal for consumers market that thrives on tribalism and plays it up? Absolutely.

But you don’t change a paradigm without pissing folks off, and when you’re thousands of dollars and hours deep, it’s easy to get pissed, especially when it looks like you are sharing the cake you’ve waited all night for while everyone else got theirs, and frankly the only way everyone benefits is if we all get more cake than we thought we would. Which requires trust in a promise of a vision, in a community whose immense trust in many visions hasn’t paid the expected dividends.


I was concerned too but then I realized most games I played outside of previous Xbox first party were mostly games from now Xbox first party studios outside of really Ubisoft. But Ubisoft has the cloud deal with Xbox so I assume they’d keep supporting it.


I agree completely and very well said.


This is mostly an emotional argument without considering the business side of things. And I think it’s going a bit too far, for you and other like you to expect other gamers to care how pissed you guys are about some games going multiplatform.

It is leaving us behind though. Its sad to think that Xbox making fewer exclusives, particularly since they have a far bigger studio count than Sony and Nintendo and it always defaults to “outdated tribalism” as opposed to say…competition.

I’ll believe the industry is changing when Sony and Nintendo games launch on Xbox.


MS will never lose EA, Ubisoft or Take 2, which is 90%+ of games sales (outside of the first party)


I think we really need to wait (I know it’s hard) and see how Xbox plans to address some of the risks associated with what they are planning. Biggest one being how it could impact 3rd party support IMO. Them looking at supporting PC/Stores shows me they are at least aware of those risks and are planning solutions.

I generally don’t think the folks working at Xbox are as stupid as many of us assume they are (not that they are always right, they aren’t) . If a bunch of folks on the internet can identify core issues to a plan then they likely have as well and are working on ways to mitigate them. We can’t assume everything else is just going to be business as usual.


Well written article, @Sikamikanico , it was a good read.

I’m not really interested in the, quite frankly boring vision Xbox seems to be chasing though. I will always have great games to play, that won’t change, but I actually enjoyed the fun “brand-part” of it, maybe that is some sort of tribalism thing that is laughed at but it added a bonus layer to the whole thing. It’s how I ended up on this site for example.

I enjoy how different the console platforms are, I own them all too, and appreciate the different things each brings to the table. All of it turning into a grey mass sounds unappealing af to me.

I was never a twitter warrior either, but I still feel left behind in a way if only by being apparently not interesting to the suits. Worst of all though is how the condescending attitudes (towards people not fully onboard with everything MS does) within parts of the community actually managed to dethrone the PS cultists as my #1 triggering factor. Quite a feat.


I’m assuming the next Xbox runs Steam and is basically PC so I will get the handheld of that. For now I choose Steam as my main digital library. Let’s see what the next hardware actually comes out like though because we probably have 20 “strategy shifts” between now and then. :stuck_out_tongue:

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You probably don’t want to hear it from me (lol) but I think this one has been uniquely difficult to have reasonable discussion about. There’s been a lot of extremes on both ends and I think the biggest issue is people aren’t even discussing it from the same place (because it’s impossible). We take the information, push it through our personal filter (are you an optimistic or a pessimist? what is your trust level in what your being told?) and then finally discuss how impactful it is. How can you really have a reasonable discussion about the impact between someone that thinks it’s just four games, someone that thinks itll be all games day one, and someone else in the middle?


I think it’s possible to come from different viewpoints and talk things out without being a condescending asshole to people.


Personally I’ll be happy for Xbox as a console to die off ONLY when our entire digital libraries including Xbox original and 360 titles, are available to be played via cloud.

What ever happened to this ? Last I saw someone contacted Phil via his gamertag asking about this and he said it’s coming this year.

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You think cloud is good enough to be happy to give up local hardware?

I don’t even have good Internet and cloud is flawless for me, latency wise I can play shooters like halo infinite online without any issues or noticable delay

For sure, I just think when you argue about stuff without a common base of fact you just end up talking past each other and don’t get anywhere, almost like talking politics.

That said, better to disengage than be an asshole.