Microsoft has had a quiet 2022 in terms of games. The company has focused on its big acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the maker of the Call of Duty franchise.
During one of the regulatory hearings for the deal involving Activision Blizzard, Microsoft argued that Sony enjoys the benefits of its first-party exclusives. The debate was about whether Microsoft had the right to make the title an Xbox exclusive.
Taking a look at Microsoft / Xbox titles, the biggest names would be the Forza Horizon racing series and the Halo collection of games. Other big titles include Microsoft Flight Simulator and Sea of Thieves. 2022 was supposed to be the year of Bethesda’s Starfield, however, the game was delayed to sometime in 2023.
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has acknowledged the fact that the company has had a quiet year for big first-party exclusive titles. Speaking with Jenna Ezarik and Justine Ezarik on the Same Brain podcast, Spencer mentioned fans have been vocal about the lack of first-party exclusives.
"One thing we've definitely heard loud and clear is its been too long since we've shipped what people would say is a big first-party game," Spencer said. "We can have our excuses with Covid and other things, but in the end I know people invest in our platform and they want to have great games."
"And as an industry, we have fewer games this holiday than we’ve had in a while, when you just think about the launches. Call of Duty is coming, God of War is coming – which is great – Nintendo’s had a good year. But in general, I would say we’ve been a little light," Spencer shares.
He goes on to share his excitement about 2023 and the games that are coming. "I look at 2023 and there’s a great line-up of games coming that I’m excited about. Getting our first real Xbox first-party games out of Bethesda, having them ship with Redfall and Starfield, will be a lot of fun," he said during the podcast.
Bethesda’s Starfield and Arkane Studios’ Redfall are set to be launched in that year and will be exclusive to the Microsoft platforms. Bethesda was recently acquired by Microsoft and the company will have some say on which platforms the studio can release its games on.
It is surprising to hear the head of a gaming company admit its shortcomings. However, one cannot deny that both Sony and Nintendo had far better games in terms of exclusive titles in 2022.
Sony had Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, and will be launching God of War: Ragnarok in a few days. Nintendo has a whole bunch of titles that are specific to the handheld console. Switch gamers will also see some of its hit games from older consoles being remastered for the newer handheld.
Microsoft also leaned heavily on the Xbox Game Pass for 2022 but unfortunately missed its target for the year. The growth has, however, slowed down significantly over the past few months but will have a 15% year-on-year increase in subscriptions. The subscription model makes up around 10-15% of Microsoft’s gaming revenue.
Microsoft will surely have a big year ahead. Fans do hope that the games slated for 2023 will be worth the wait. Watch the full interview with Phil Spencer below.