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[IGN Interview] Phil Spencer says Xbox Was 'Too Light on Games' in 2022, But a Big 2023 Could Await

Speaking with IGN in a brand-new interview following this week's Developer Direct, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer addressed many of those troubles, including recent layoffs and the uncertain status of 343 Industries. He also acknowledged Xbox's disappointing 2022, which saw virtually no major releases compared to its competitors.

"Our commitment to our fans is that we need to have a steady release of great games that people can play on our platform, and we didn't do enough of that in 2022, there's no doubt," Spencer told IGN. "And fundamentally, that's on me. I'm the head of the business."
During the interview Spencer also looked ahead to 2023, saying that it was "important to show games, to show dates" in the recent Developer_Direct, and talked more about Xbox's summer showcase plans, though he won't say one way or another whether Xbox will participate in the show. And he talked about the ongoing battle around Xbox's Activision Blizzard acquisition, which he describes as a "learning experience."

Asked whether 2023 is a critical year for Xbox, Spencer said in his typically cagey way "every year is critical." Nevertheless, he also said he feels "good" about Xbox's momentum.

Some select parts of interview below, click the IGN link for the full session,

IGN: Hi-Fi Rush has been getting a lot of really positive buzz on social media, not the least because it was a shadow drop, which I found pretty interesting. And I'm just wondering is this something we can expect from Xbox going forward?

Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming CEO:
Yeah, the shadow drop, it seems like it worked really well this time. It's not a thing we've done a ton of. This was an idea from the team. They'd been playing the game, felt good about their launch date and some of the early signals on quality, and said, "Hey, it would just be fun. It would just be fun to be able to launch this during the Developer Direct and say, 'Play it now.'" So we rolled with that. We're always learning, always listening, and it seems like the community's responding well, which I think is a good signal.

IGN: How much pressure was Xbox under to establish positive momentum for 2023 coming off 2022, where there weren't a lot of releases?

Phil Spencer: I think it's a little different internally, because we obviously know that we have a Developer Direct, we know what content we're building, we know already what we're we're going to be doing in June in our showcase. But our commitment to our fans is that we need to have a steady release of great games that people can play on our platform, and we didn't do enough of that in 2022, there's no doubt. And fundamentally, that's on me. I'm the head of the business.

The commitment we have to our customers to continue to deliver great games is something that I take seriously, the teams take seriously, and 2022 was too light on games. So we're excited about getting to roll into 2023, have the Developer Direct. I felt really good about the games that we were showing. And then also knowing that Starfield is a game that we'd be able to highlight in its own show and then just start off 2023 with good momentum, and like you said, I think we needed that.

IGN: You're releasing Redfall this year, you're releasing Starfield this year, Forza is coming out somewhat later in the year, and it feels like go time. It feels like this is the moment for Xbox.

Phil Spencer:
I hesitate to get ahead of the launches, just because I know there's some, and rightfully, some fatigue in the community about us saying, "Hey, just wait until, just wait until." So that was one of the reasons it was nice to be able to launch Hi-Fi Rush during the show to show that we can launch. And I look at things like Pentiment, which came out in November, as a really high quality game, but there has to be more. And when I look at Minecraft Legends, when I look at Redfall, I look at the work that we're doing at Forza Motorsport, one of my favorite franchises, Elder Scrolls Online, the things that we showed, I think it was important for us to show games, to show dates.

I know there were some questions on the date on Forza Motorsport, because we just revealed the year. Everybody should know just the quality that Turn 10 puts into Motorsport, if you look historically, is going to be there in this game. That's the thing that, first and foremost, is most important, and we will come out with a date, no doubt when we're a little bit closer. But we just wanted to reaffirm to people that this is a 2023 game.

So as you said, showing great games, showing gameplay for those games, and giving solid dates I thought was important this early in the year.

IGN: How critical do you see Starfield and Redfall as being to kind of getting Game Pass where it needs to be as a service?

Phil Spencer:
Redfall and Starfield are really important games, every first-party game that we're building is. In terms of the growth of Game Pass, it's been steady. And as we're adding new games and sequels to games, we see the continued growth. Sometimes, the growth is in games that we expected, and then every so often a Vampire Survivors or now a Hi-Fi Rush comes along and creates its own excitement. So sometimes you can predict the games that are going to drive excitement, and sometimes you get surprised. And I like that about our industry — that great games can come from many different places.

For us, we obviously closed the ZeniMax acquisition a couple years ago, seeing that Bethesda, ZeniMax being the parent company, is shipping a Hi-Fi Rush, shipping Redfall, has the Elder Scrolls Online update, shipping Starfield...that these games are coming this year. And we've started the year off with our first launch into Xbox and PC, Game Pass. I'm just really encouraged by the strength that Bethesda's going to show in our portfolio, and we're starting to see it already in 2023, and that's exciting.

IGN: As we kind of look ahead to 2023 and thinking about where we are in the current console generation, I'm just wondering if things have kind of unfolded as Xbox expected. It seems like there's been a lot of variables so far.

Phil Spencer:
Definitely, there's been a lot going on. You think about the last few years and stuff that all of us have had to deal with. In terms of where we are as Xbox, I'm incredibly confident in the plan that we have, the strategy that we have, and the teams. Just today, we had a meeting with the entire team, and we talked about our path forward. We're in the entertainment industry, and the entertainment industry is one that's built on hits that aren't always predictable. Like you said, we're seeing that right now with Hi-Fi Rush. It's a business that is driven by heart of people falling in love with the things that you're building and also being persistent in being brave as an organization.

This team has done some things that maybe weren't expected of them in terms of things like Game Pass and xCloud. When I look forward at the games that we're building and the platform ambition that we have, it just gives me more and more confidence in where we're going. But definitely, the games industry is not one for the faint of heart; it's not one for teams that want to play it safe. I love the ambition that Team Xbox has, and it's a privilege to be part of this team.

IGN: Truly, the games industry is not for the faint of heart. I can attest to that. Focusing very briefly, specifically on 343, I think there's been a lot of questions about its role going forward, because it's been particularly impacted by the layoffs. They released a statement saying that they will continue to develop Halo now and in the future, but amid the cuts. We're given to understand that support studios or additional help may be brought in. I'm just curious can you shed more light on 343's role going forward?

Phil Spencer:
Absolutely, but I'm going to start, because I think sometimes it gets a little bit lost in the discussion about Halo and 343, which will always be iconic for Xbox, is just the launch of Halo Infinite a little over a year ago and the quality of execution that that team put into the game. I thought it was fantastic. Obviously, we're talking about the following year, and I think there are some missteps that we made as a team, absolutely. But I don't want to take away from the fact that the team did a really good job delivering a great Halo game. I think reviewers commented on that. We definitely saw players last year playing and the success that that game had.

At the same time, when we launched that game, we know we needed to make some commitments to people about the content updates and our timing on those and the quality, and we didn't hit our own bar for doing that. I believe in the team that's there, Pierre and the leadership team, and the plan that they have. Obviously, [343 studio head Pierre Hintze], he's the studio head now, has been on Halo for a long time. He's worked on [Halo: The Master Chief Collection, he's done some great work there. The team has a very good plan.

What we're doing now is we want to make sure that leadership team is set up with the flexibility to build the plan that they need to go build. And Halo will remain critically important to what Xbox is doing, and 343 is critically important to the success of Halo.

In terms of support studios and other things, that's just part of development and having other partners help us. But the heart and soul of Halo is with 343 and the team that's there, and I have the utmost confidence in the team that's there and leading and the plan that they have going forward.

IGN: If you don't mind me staying on this for just one more moment, you were mentioning the plan going forward. I think there's a lot of questions around the plan. Previously, there was a 10-year support plan for Halo Infinite, including new story content. I'm just wondering if that still in place?

Phil Spencer:
I'm going to let 343 talk about the plans that they have right now, that people know they have the next season that's coming up, and they're excited about that. They've got some other things, some rumored, some announced, that they'll be working on. They're excited about the plan forward. I look at, say, the work that they've done on Forge and the amazing support we've had from creators there. The timeline for Halo...Halo is always going to be one of those things in my mind that is part of Xbox lore, part of the foundation of what Xbox is about.

I expect that we'll be continuing to support and grow Halo for as long as the Xbox is a platform for people to play. So I think the timeline goes on and on in line with Xbox, and I want to make sure the team's set up to succeed with that.

IGN: And I suppose, as we look ahead to the rest of 2023, I'm just wondering how critical do you see this year as it being for Xbox?

Phil Spencer:
Every year is critical. I don't find this year to be more or less critical. I feel good about our momentum. Obviously, we're going through some adjustments right now that are painful, but I think necessary, but it's really to set us up and the teams for long-term success. I look at 2023, I love the games that we have coming out. Redfall and Starfield, as you commented, will be exciting, just given the timing with Bethesda now that they're fully integrated into the organization. When I think about the rest of the work that we're doing this year, it's going to be an exciting year. From a production standpoint, we're coming out of all of the COVID at home, and I think we've got a better working rhythm as an industry and things that are going on, and I'm excited.

As an industry, when I think about this year, I do think about the state of production in AAA games, and games have become really big. Every year, people have bigger ideas and bigger plans for the games that we're building. But ensuring that teams are set up for success in the games that we're building across the industry, that do we really have kind of the necessary skills on production to make sure that when we make commitments to our customers about when games are coming, we can deliver at the quality and the timing that we expect.

I think these are good questions for us as an industry right now. We're always learning, we're always evaluating the tools that we have and the process we have and the creative that we put out. There were some great games in 2022. There'll be some great games in 2023, and this industry will continue to evolve and innovate in ways that hopefully delight players.

Some of the most curious parts of the interview are Phil Spencer saying that Microsoft needs to get in gear and show more dates, after having just recently presented games with no dates, dodging the Halo Infinite 10 year plan question, which makes me wonder if that's going to still be a thing, and is talking about momentum without specifying

But he did admit that they didn't have steady releases in 2022, and does say or at least imply it will be addressed for 2023. He also confirmed that Starfield will be highlighted at its own show, though he doesn't give a date.

He also goes over how important games like that are to gamepass, and is saying that it's gamepass itself growing steadily.

Probably the biggest thing is that Phil said is he put the team together, and Xbox has a new plan and strategy forward. I'm curious to see what this new plan and strategy is and hope we learn more about it.
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they just released rush. They released more than sony in fact. 🤷‍♂️


Gold Member
Lets focus on the positives, who's playing Hi-Fi Rush on PC? If yes, did you see my (Unreal) ini edits for 10x better (T)AA?

In "%USERPROFILE%\Saved Games\TangoGameworks\Hi-Fi RUSH (STEAM)\Saved\Config\WindowsNoEditor" you'll find lots of ini files, paste this at the end of "engine.ini":


Also, add this to "GameUserSettings.ini" if you have a recent high end GPU:


Increase it above 100 to supersample the image (or something similar to that, achieves same effect), but remember its on both axis so 200(%) on 4K is 8K and 200 on 1440p is 4K.
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You can count on any games that were in the pipe are beth. Beth wasn't exactly doing to great but had to at least operate as a business without infinite money, thus make games. The less mature or future projects, we'll have to see how that goes under phil's touch of death.


WTF? You realize Forza is considered a good game by most. If you care about good games then you would care about Forza in some way even if it is not your taste.
no why would i explain? For millions fifa is great too? Should i care now for what i will never spend time with


We don’t see as many interviews with Jim Ryan, which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned because I couldn’t care less what either of these guys have to say, if I’m being honest.

Then you’re probably in the wrong thread

I read that entire thing and not one piece of new substantive information was shared about anything. This is the definition of could have just been an email

It’s rare to see someone say so much and so little at the same time, its an art.

Man answered all the questions sent his way. Not sure what else you expected. Game announcements?
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