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E3 2019 - Microsoft's Spencer would like to buy an Asian developer, wants to show Xbox's commitment to PC

E3 2019 - Microsoft's Spencer would like to buy an Asian developer, wants to show Xbox's commitment to PC

The head of games at Microsoft Phil Spencer has said that he would love to add an Asian company to Xbox Game Studios roster.

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, the exec said an Asian - especially a Japanese - developer would be a savvy move, especially with more studios from the East popping up on Microsoft's stage.

Spencer also discussed the acquisition of adventure game specialist Double Fine, which was announced on-stage at E3 2019 at the weekend. Tim Schafer's firm was one of two new developers in Xbox Game Studios, with Microsoft announcing a new outfit working on Age of Empires. 

This brings the total number of Xbox first-party developers to 15 following the acquisition of Playground Games, Undead Lab, Ninja Theory and Compulsion - alongside a brand new developer in Santa Monica called The Initiative - on top of the purchase of InXile and Obsidian, which was announced in November 2018

Oh, and if you're curious what kind of talent The Initiative has attracted since being set up last year, we've got you covered right here

"One of the things I love about Tim [Schafer] and the team at Double Fine is that they build different games to what our other studios build," he said.

"And that's a strength. Because just like in video, just like in music, there isn't one song that everybody loves. There isn't one movie or even a genre that everybody loves. So with Game Pass, we think about millions of different players and the different kind of games they will play. That diversity is really important."

He continued: "I think it would be nice if we found an Asian studio, in particular, a Japanese studio, to add [to our studios]. I liked it when we had some first-party capability in Japan. We have a small team there, but I think we can do more. That said, through our trips to Japan, I love having Phantasy Star back on our stage with Sega -- I thought that was fantastic. Miyazaki-San, before with Dark Souls and now having Elden Ring on our stage... the Japanese creators have shown up more and more."

The Xbox boss was also keen to - once again - reiterate Microsoft's commitment to PC gaming. Much of the messaging around the Big M's support for this platform is nothing new - over the years, the firm has tried, and often failed, to capture the PC market.

But Spencer says that bringing services like its Game Pass subscription to the platform in a fully-fledged manner is a show of Microsoft's focus this time around.

"The next step for us is showing the PC player that we are as committed as we are on console [with Game Pass]," Spencer said.

"When we launched on console two years ago, there were some questions from the community on how it's just old games and 'I don't know if I want to subscribe,' which was fair. We saw the subscribers grow, and then we added our first party in, now we have a lot more third-parties that are premiering their games. It has become a really positive force in gaming, my opinion.

"So I think we have that same journey with the PC customer. The customer that doesn't own an Xbox, doesn't own a console -- doesn't want to, either - they want to play on PC. There's a healthy amount of scepticism on whether we are really true to that customer. Or is this just another ploy for us to get them to buy an Xbox? Which it is not. So I think our next step, honestly, is to deliver on that promise of PC Game Pass.

"But I think if you look out, you say: I want to have some way of getting access to games, I can buy a gaming PC, I can buy a console, maybe there's something I can subscribe to that gives me access to [a console] in the cloud. Then I want to have a subscription with the games that I want to be able to play. I think there is an unlock to getting more people to play, by making the acquisition of games easier for more people. We are in this space in gaming where we are one of the few industries that still sell content for $60. But we know that when you reach the broadest market, then having a more variable pricing model that allows people to come in where they can afford to come in, is important."


Editor - PC Games Insider

Alex Calvin launched PCGamesInsider.biz in August 2017 and has been its editor since. Prior to this, he was deputy editor at UK based games trade paper MCV and content editor for marketing and events for London Games Festival 2017. His work has also appeared in Eurogamer, The Observer, Kotaku UK, Esquire UK and Develop.

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