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Xbox boss Phil Spencer doesn’t like exclusives

It’s well known that each platform focuses heavily on exclusive games and their respective DLC, a delight to many of the system owners and a curse to those cut off from potentially enjoying what the game has to offer. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has spoken out against the idea of exclusivity, while also addressing the company’s own hand in the matter.

Spencer let the news slip when speaking with GameSpot at the Brazil Game Show, stating that he knows people ridicule him for addressing the matter, but he really doesn’t like the idea of any company holding exclusives and preventing other platforms from having access to specific items, levels or otherwise.

I don't love the idea or practice of us paying so other platforms can't play or use a certain gun in a game or do a certain level,” Spencer explained. “I know I say that and, Xbox history–DLC exclusivity windows with Call of Duty–I understand the fingers are pointing right back to Xbox. I can only be who I am. It's not the best PR answer. But I don't like that.”

It’s no surprise that he feels this way given that he’s the man that’s brought about Microsoft’s Play Anywhere initiative and been in favour of cross compatibility and cross platform play for quite some time now. That being said, Xbox is still going after exclusive deals with one of the most notable in recent months being its partnership with developers Bluehole and its smash hit title PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds as well as StudioMHR’s critically acclaimed Cuphead.

Unfortunately for Spencer, this paints him in a bad light. People automatically flock to the thought of Xbox doing in solely to drive its own platform, but Spencer assures that isn’t the case at all and it’s simultaneously to build the best possible game it can be. While PUBG might not fit this description like a glove, Cuphead does. Microsoft poured funding into an indie title that likely wouldn’t have become what it is known as today without that support. In this case, it’s very much the idea of a specific set of players getting to enjoy the wonders of Cuphead, or no one getting to enjoy it.

It’s fair to say that Spencer’s hands are also tied in a business sense, in that as underhanded as practices can be, if they are commonplace in the respective industry then opting out of them on the basis of morals could place the platform at a severe disadvantage. Considering Spencer is dedicated to opening the Xbox platform up as much as possible as well as support content creators, streamers and media enthusiasts, it’s similarly fair to say that the company tries to change these practices where it can while not throwing itself under the bus.

Business practices are changing and need to change. As Spencer says: “Getting caught in a definition of gaming that's about me trying to do everything I can to get you to buy one specific device to play one specific variant of games, is not really about growing the business.”

KitGuru Says: This isn’t me justifying the idea of exclusives, nor convince those who are against the practice to accept it, but I feel that Spencer gives a good understanding of the industry in its current state and how the company is really trying to take a progressive approach nowadays. Whether it will fully work or not remains to be seen as most initiatives are only about a year old or in conceptual stages, but it’s nice to see a company openly trying. What are your thoughts on the matter?

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