On Thursday 15 February Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft’s gaming division, is ready to reveal the “vision for the future of Xbox” in a podcast that will air at 9pm Italian time on all platforms. Rumors that have been circulating for some time suggest that Microsoft could launch some of its Xbox console exclusives on PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch as well, a move that, if confirmed, would mark a significant turning point in the industry. Last week, Spencer acknowledged the existence of these rumors, promising to clarify Xbox’s future strategy. The anticipation is palpable, and the fact that the announcement will take place via a podcast has sparked surprise and, in some cases, discontent among Xbox loyalists, who fear a sort of “betrayal” after years of loyalty to Microsoft’s console .
In recent years, Microsoft has shown growing interest in expanding its presence in the gaming world, purchasing renowned game developers such as Obsidian, Bethesda and Activision Blizzard, and targeting the growth of its Game Pass subscription. In particular, to obtain approval for the purchase of Activision, Microsoft had to ensure that the Call of Duty series did not become an Xbox exclusive, thus demonstrating that it prioritized its ambitions in game development over those related to hardware. On the other hand, the decision not to make Bethesda’s highly anticipated Starfield available on PlayStation 5 after the studio’s acquisition showed that Microsoft is still willing to play its exclusive cards. The possible opening towards the PlayStation could be seen as a strategic adjustment in response to the decline in enthusiasm for some titles and the need to attract new subscribers to Game Pass.
The gaming industry has already seen similar movements, with Sony starting to publish exclusive PlayStation titles on PC and Microsoft making its Xbox exclusive titles available on this platform for years. This trend reflects a growing convergence between different gaming platforms, in an era where the lines between console, PC and mobile are increasingly blurring. Thursday’s announcement isn’t just about the future of Xbox or potential new console alliances. It also reflects Microsoft’s evolution into a gaming industry giant, a position borne out by its recent wave of acquisitions, but also tested by challenges such as the recent layoffs of 1,900 gaming employees, many of them from Activision Blizzard, and the cancellation of titles that have been in development for years.