Microsoft has a games problem. Put more accurately its problem is the lack of exclusive titles for the Xbox One platform while competitors Sony and Nintendo have a healthy library of must haves. Polygon ran a well written article yesterday describing this very issue in great detail. Microsoft is falling behind competitors Sony and Nintendo, and if the trend continues it runs the risk of being seen as second rate when it comes to console gaming.
Phil Spencer certainly has his work cut out for him as Microsoft’s executive Vice President of gaming, a title he was given back in September of 2017. In an interview with Bloomberg last year, Spencer spoke of the need to grow and increase the amount of investment. Microsoft has not released their sales figures for the Xbox One, but the Polygon article mentions analyst estimates for the Xbox One to be in the vicinity of 35 million units. Sony’s PS4, on the other hand, is sitting on an install base of 70.6 million units. At a 2-1 disadvantage, Spencer’s words on the need to grow the platform carry an incredible amount of weight to them.
In light of all this, the decision for the Game Pass program to include new releases from Microsoft game studios is a start to try and help the pendulum swing back towards Xbox, but the problem still remains the software offerings. For 2018 the confirmed exclusives for the Xbox One include Sea of Thieves and Crackdown 3 while the PS4 counts among it’s exclusives God of War, The Last of Us Part 2, Spider-Man, and Detroit: Become Human. I don’t know about you, but seeing that small comparison makes me glad I bought a PS4 as opposed to an Xbox One. Again, this is Spencer’s number one problem for the Xbox One – How to get quality exclusives to drive hardware sales and increase the install base.
Microsoft needs to act, and fast so the 2-1 gap doesn’t get any wider. This is where the rumors of acquisitions stemmed from. It takes time for internal studios to develop exclusives. The quick way to bolster a library would be to acquire a company that already has either a cadre of studios working on titles, or IP to pull from. One of the bigger names linked to a possible acquisition is publisher EA, but other names floating around include PUBG corp. There are definitely reasons to be skeptical that this will go through, mainly that the last time there was a rumor of Microsoft looking to buy EA it turned out to be just that, rumor and speculation (this was in 2009). Another reason would be the anti trust implications such a deal would present since this would create a pretty massive gaming giant. Still it should be interesting to see how this all turns out.