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Phil Spencer: Lack of AAA Exclusives in 2022 for Xbox Was a 'Disaster'

Phil Spencer: Lack of AAA Exclusives in 2022 for Xbox Was a 'Disaster' - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 19 September 2023 / 3,303 Views

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer in an email sent in May 2022 to a number of executives at Microsoft and Xbox discussed the big gap between AAA exclusives on Xbox and they need to build a plan so it doesn't happen again. The email and other documents were left unredacted in a newly published FTC document.

"With the news that Starfield is going to miss Holiday...still not a ton of clarity on the launch date of Redfall and Stalker 2 development impacted by the war in Ukraine I feel we are in a huge hole with our games lineup both for platform marketing/differentiation and our Game Pass content," reads the email from Spencer.

"We keep talking about a bit AAA a quarter in the service and it feels like we are likely to go through a gap of almost 16 months between big exclusive launches on our platform. Halo Infinite being our last on December 8, 2021. This is really a disaster situation for us given all we've invested in content across studios at our GP content fund. We need to learn from this and build a plan going forward.

"In terms of learning, I think we need to get much better at overall portfolio planning on our games with real honesty on dates. Doing this from memory, from summer 2021 through Dec '21 we had an amazing lineup of games with Flight Sim to console, Psychonauts 2, Age [of Empires] 4, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo [Infinite].

"There were good 3P [third-party] games in that timeframe as well like Back 4 Blood. We set a very high bar in 2021 on quality and pacing of content which was awesome to see. But to come off of that year with no big exclusives launching in 2022 is a portfolio planning miss that we can't afford. If we need to delay launches (understanding there is a financial impact of that) to create more regular beats for us we need to do that. We have to all understand that the situation we are in now is a failure of our planning and production execution."

Following the launches of Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite in Holiday 2021 there were no big releases from Xbox in 2022, while this year the big exclusives includes Starfield and Forza Motorsport

A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012 and taking over the hardware estimates in 2017. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel. You can contact the author on Twitter @TrunksWD.

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Radek (on 19 September 2023)

Same can be said about 2020.

  • +10
tslog (on 19 September 2023)

It definitely was a disaster, so who paid the price for that gross incompetence? NOBODY. All MS did was throw money at their problem with no one taking accountability, which Spencer is mostly responsible for.

Just because Spencer has been great for Xbox convincing Satya to spend money to build up Xbox, he also is guilty for running frequent disasters at Xbox, and he also keeps his grossly incompetent friends in positions….like for eg Matt booty.
At least Sony makes some tough executive decisions to know when quality isn’t good enough, and we get results like God of War 2018. MS has never learned that lesson.

  • +5
LivncA_Dis3 (6 days ago)

Time to let Phil Spencer go,
He hasn't improved Xbox in a long shot,

Still no exclusives missing out year after year...

That's just sad.

  • +4
Brimac19 LivncA_Dis3 (5 days ago)

Agreed-How in the hell has he kept his job???

  • -1
dane007 LivncA_Dis3 (2 days ago)

Compared to Xbox one days he has improved it alot . Takes time to build games. Not everyone wants same single player format that Sony does with all their first party

  • -1
Brimac19 (on 19 September 2023)

But at least you got Redfall in 2023!!!👍

  • +4
dane007 Brimac19 (6 days ago)

And starfield

  • -1
Brimac19 dane007 (5 days ago)

👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻But Phil was so excited for Redfall!!!

  • -2
zero129 Brimac19 (2 days ago)

So than Starfield doesn't exist?

  • -1
dane007 Brimac19 (2 days ago)

I take redfall and starfield over both Spiderman 1 and miles Morales Nd I plantinum both of Sony games

  • -1
Brimac19 (5 days ago)

Phil does realize he’s basically saying they should have fired him right!!!

  • +2
SanAndreasX Brimac19 (5 days ago)

Agreed. How the fuck does he still have a job?

  • 0
ClassicGamingWizzz (on 19 September 2023)

Its your legacy phill.

  • +1
Libara ClassicGamingWizzz (on 19 September 2023)

Your hilarious obsession of anything MS or Xbox articles goes beyond creepy levels. Take a break from the internet and go touch some grass.

  • -5
Brimac19 Libara (5 days ago)

Says the Xbot lemming!!!

  • -1
Libara Brimac19 (5 days ago)

Oh the irony.

  • -1

No he stated that buying Nintendo would be his legacy piece.

  • 0
V-r0cK (on 19 September 2023)

...and who's fault is that?

Sadly MS spent too much time focusing on acquiring ABK this gen.

  • +1
EpicRandy V-r0cK (on 19 September 2023)

Care to explain the link you see between those 2. Cause to me they appear to be as unrelated as can be.
It's not like e.g. Bethesda had to give up work on Starfield to help MS acquire ABK.

  • -3
Qwark EpicRandy (on 19 September 2023)

They didn't moneyhat third party exclusives, to bolster a stronger 2022. As much as moneyhats are disliked they are good for keeping your platform relevant and maintaining momentum.

  • -8
EpicRandy Qwark (on 19 September 2023)

I have nothing against moneyhat but it's unrelated to the ABK acquisition, MS is financing 100% of the acquisition while moneyhats are/should be financed by Xbox themselves.

  • -1
Dallinor Qwark (on 19 September 2023)

Well they did moneyhat third party exclusives. Like they do every year. Valheim and Warhammer: 40k Darktide were the biggest, Stalker got pushed to next year.

  • +2
VAMatt V-r0cK (on 19 September 2023)

I think Phil is very clearly saying that it is the fault of the Microsoft gaming execs , which obviously includes himself.

I don't see any connection between the ABK acquisition and the lack of games. They weren't taking developers off of projects to help them negotiate the deal with Activision. Certainly at the margin it might cause a lack of focus within the company. But any impact would be tiny.

  • +6
Imaginedvl V-r0cK (on 19 September 2023)

There is literally NO LINK between those 2.
Also, I do not think they are blaming anyone else but themselves already. So why do you ask the question.

  • +7
Brimac19 (5 days ago)

Hey Phil-Maybe stop making so many dumb decisions like the weak ass S.

  • 0
kazuyamishima (on 19 September 2023)

I dunno, atm, 2023 is lower than 2022 for Xbox consoles.

  • -4
Qwark (on 19 September 2023)

That's why PlayStation moneyhats some games, so that they each year have some exclusive AAA content. Even if Spiderman 2 wouldn't be able to have met 2023. They would still have had FF16 and Forspoken. Though the latter was a failure.

  • -7
rapsuperstar31 Qwark (on 19 September 2023)

Moneyhats sucks we can all agree on that, it takes two to tango and both Sony and the company making the moneyhat deal has to want to do it. Sony is going to get preferential treatment because of long term relationships and and the install base, but Microsoft will always get the chance to bid on the moneyhats at the same time Sony does. Microsoft has decided to start purchasing companies, or strictly offer Gamepass money in their moneyhat offers. Microsoft hasn't been as active in the moneyhat game since the huge games they monehatted on the 360.

  • +5
TheLegendaryBigBoss Qwark (on 19 September 2023)

Except most moneyhats are temporary, the game will come to other systems eventually. With acquisitions games that have long been available to all platforms become locked.

  • +10