The Master Chief looks at his ship, what could have been.

Image: 343 Industry / Microsoft

Things haven’t been going well for Xbox lately. Microsoft is facing stiff opposition in its bid to acquire Activision Blizzard. It released almost no big exclusive blockbusters last year. And last week it cut more than 10,000 jobs, including many senior developers hour Halo Infinite studio 343 Industries. Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer tried to stay optimistic and do damage control on each of these points and more. in a new interview with IGN.

“Every year is critical,” he said. “I don’t consider this year more or less critical. I feel our speed is good. Obviously, we’re going through some adjustments right now that are painful, but I think it’s necessary, but it’s really setting us and the teams up for long-term success.”

This week, both threat and promise were captured in front of Xbox. Microsoft announced on Tuesday 12 percent decrease in net income for the latest fiscal quarter compared to the previous year. Xbox gaming hardware and software declined by similar percentages, and Microsoft didn’t say how many new subscribers its Game Pass service has gained since passing the 25 million mark exactly a year ago.

Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled a sleek and streamlined look at its upcoming games Developer Direct live stream copied straight from the Nintendo playbook. Forza Motorsport apparently it was quietly postponed until the second half of the year, but it looked like a beautiful and impressive racing string show. Arkane’s co-op sandbox vampire shooter Redfall It has a May 2nd release date. Real-time strategy spin-off Minecraft legends will hit in April. And to cover things off Tango Gameworks, the manufacturer The Evil Withincast a shadow Hi-Fi Rush Now on Game Pass, the colorful rhythm-action game from left field that has become the first undisputed gaming hit of 2023.

The hero of Hi-Fi Rush jumps through the colorful city skyline.

Screenshot: Tango Gameworks / Bethesda

“2022 was too light on games,” Spencer confessed in his IGN interview. 2023 shouldn’t be thanks to Redfall and Starfield, Bethesda’s much-anticipated answer to the question, “What if Skyrim but space?” But both of those games were technically supposed to come out last year. Meanwhile, Hi-Fi Rush, Like Obsidian Repentance before that, it’s shaping up to be a critically-acclaimed Game Pass release that may still be too small to inject the Xbox’s bigger fortunes.

Spencer was vague when asked how successful those games have been or the impact on Game Pass, whose growth has reportedly stalled on console. “I think creative diversity expands for us when we have different ways for people to pay for the games they play, and subscription definitely helps there,” he said.

Hi-Fi Rush, Redfall, Starfieldand new The Elder Scrolls Online There is also an expansion due out in June all from BethesdaMicrosoft completed the acquisition in 2021. Legacy Microsoft first-party game studios have either been relatively quiet in recent years as they work on their next big projects, or, in the case of 343 Industries, have recently experienced a surprising number of layoffs. .

After news of layoffs last week, rumors and speculation began to circulate that 343 Industries, which shipped a well-received Halo Infinite single-player campaign in 2021 but has struggled with seasonal updates for its multiplayer component in the months since, has been lined up. . The studio is out short statement saying the weekend Hello it was here to stay and will continue to develop it.

The transition from Starfield awaits the game's new release date.

Image: Bethesda / Microsoft

Spencer doubled down on that in the interview IGN, but gave little details about the reasons behind the layoffs or what their plans are for the franchise moving forward. “What we’re doing right now is we want to make sure that the leadership team is built with the flexibility to build the plan we need to build,” he said. “And Hello It will remain critical to what Xbox does and is critical to the 343’s success Hello.”

Where Halo Infinite‘s sounded earlier “10-year” plan fits, but still remains unclear. “They have some other things, some that have been rumored, some that they’ve announced that they’re going to work on,” Spencer said. And of the future of the series as a whole, he simply said, “I expect us to continue to support and grow. Hello as long as Xbox is a platform for people to play.” It’s hard to imagine Nintendo talking Mario with similar sounding disbelief.

It’s possible that Microsoft’s continued struggles with some of its internal projects are partly due to its focus on looking outside the company for help. Right now, that means trying and fighting to buy Activision Blizzard for $69 billion antitrust suit by the Federal Trade Commission in the process. Microsoft initially promised to buy the contract Call of Duty, Diablo, World of Warcraftand Candy Crush It would be completed before the summer of 2023. While the company continues to offer compromises, that deadline is fast approaching. It is reported that he gave Sony a choice to continue paying to own Activision games on rival Game Pass subscription service PS Plus.

Spencer said IGN he continues his rise in closing the deal, even though he claims he knew nothing about the logistics of doing so when he started a year ago. “Given a year ago, I didn’t know anything about a procurement process like this for me,” he said. “I’m more confident now than I was a year ago, based on the information I have and the discussions we’ve had, because I understand more about what it means to work with different regulatory boards, because I have more knowledge. was.”

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