Xbox Game Studios has grown exponentially over the past couple of years and with the upcoming games showcase on July 23rd, we’ll begin to see the fruits of the expansion.
But thanks to an excellent new article from our friends at Gamesindustry.biz, we now have some further insight into not only what some of the Studio Heads have experienced since becoming part of the XGS family, but the Xbox leadership’s methodology for the future.
There’s some very notable quotes referenced from Studio Heads Tim Schafer (Double Fine) and Brian Fargo (inXile) as well as the Head of Xbox Studios Matt Booty. Hearing details of both the freedom and support studios are receiving since the acquisition is a positive aspect all-around.
“I knew what I wanted to do next. It was a category we loved, it was a unique opportunity in the marketplace, and I had all the ancillary information as to why I felt it was a great idea. I prepared the whole thing, I sat with Matt and said here is what we want to do, and he said ‘if that’s what you want to do, then great’. It was over in like 60 seconds. That was wild for me, because we’re used to this six month process of back-and-forth with a million questions — with things like ‘how many pieces of art will there be?’
“I had to go back to Matt a second time and go: ‘I just want to be sure that you understood that this is what we’re doing.’ And he said: ‘I love the idea so much that I don’t want to see anything, so that you guys over-index on what I say and think you have to change it in some capacity.’ That’s a true story.” – Brian Fargo
“With Psychonauts 2, we could see the end of our budget coming up, and so we had cut a lot of stuff,” Schafer explains. “We had cut our boss fights. Now we are able to put those back in, and we’re like ‘we think people would have noticed if we didn’t have those boss fights’. Being able to complete the game in the way that it was meant to be was very important.
“I’m looking forward to doing things for the right reasons. When you only have a certain amount of time and money, you might jump into a part of the game that you’re not ready to jump into, or start working on art before you’re ready with design. But now I look forward to this era where we are doing everything for what is right for the game.” – Tim Schafer
The most notable quote from the article however is from Head of Xbox Phil Spencer himself. Growing Xbox Game Studios in the way that’s been done is an investment of billions. Yet despite the studios expansion, investment in Azure and xCloud, the relationship with AMD on the new Series line of Xbox(s), and the investment in Game Pass, Spencer says that he has the backing of Microsoft to keep the pedal down.
“The Game Pass portfolio and subscriber base continues to grow. We’re launching a new console. Last year was our biggest year ever on PC in terms of revenue as Xbox Game Studios. A lot of the business is doing really well, so we’re always in the market for new opportunities with studios.
“The first priority was making sure the studios had the things that they needed to build the best versions of their games. That means extending some of the timelines, and giving them more budgets. We have really strong support from Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, and Amy Hood, the CFO. And there’s been no signal at all that we should be slowing down, but just to go at a pace that is maintainable for us as a leadership team. We’re always out there talking to people. But it has to be the right opportunity.” – Phil Spencer
There is an awful lot going on within Xbox. Not only is it a great thing to see studios growing and developers being supported, but we love how transparent the Xbox leadership is with it all. And keep in mind, many of these changes will even benefit gamers outside of the Xbox ecosystem in the short term as titles like Psychonauts 2 and Wasteland 3 are launching on all major platforms.
To say we’re excited for the July showcase would be an understatement. And as good as we expect it to be, it’s very clearly only the beginning.