Matt Booty, Corporate Vice President of Xbox Game Studios, announced this week a significant rebranding of Microsoft's gaming division. Microsoft's game development organization is no longer Microsoft Studios and instead has been appropriately renamed Xbox Game Studios.
The news comes in the wake for some game-changing (pun intended) moves from the game maker and hardware manufacturer. Since E3 2018, the Xbox division has been making move after move on the game development front to address the biggest issue the Xbox One family of consoles currently deals with - exclusive games. And the other side of the story, is Xbox's future plans involving not only the next generation of consoles, but more service-based offerings, including expanding cross-platform support.
First, let's recap the full slate of first-party development studios now under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella:
Xbox First-Party Developers
Xbox Game Studios is now comprised of 13 developers: 343 Industries, The Coalition, Compulsion Games, The Initiative, inXile Entertainment, Minecraft, Ninja Theory, Obsidian Entertainment, Playground Games, Rare, Turn 10 Studios, and Undead Labs.
Half of these are new to the family, announced within the last half a year, emphasizing how serious Xbox is about planning for the future. Combined with Xbox's incredible push towards pro-consumer offerings (adaptive controller, play anywhere initiative, cross-play support, backward compatibility, mouse and keyboard support, Game Pass, etc.) and it's clear the groundwork is being laid to be the leader with their next-gen console.
Xbox Is No Longer Microsoft-Only
The messaging from Xbox boss Phil Spencer for years now has been about attempting to serve all gamers, and to let all players play anywhere, anytime, on any platform, and with anyone. That means breaking down barriers, the largest of which is brand exclusivity. Leaked on the GDC website, and reported days ago, Microsoft is planning to bring Xbox Live in a bigger way not only to PC, but to bring it to iOS and Android mobile users, and Nintendo Switch players. For that to happen, it's important to scrub "Microsoft" from the name since it doesn't fit for gamers or brands on other platforms.
"At Xbox, we believe when everyone plays, we all win. It’s why we’re passionate about building a portfolio of games for players across console, PC and mobile. As we’ve expanded our focus beyond the console, the Xbox brand has also evolved from its original roots. Today, Xbox is our gaming brand across all devices, no matter how or where you want to play, or who you want to play with."
If Xbox however, is transitioning more towards being a service provider - and remember, they're planning big things for the xCloud "Netflix for Games" - it needs to be its own thing outside of Microsoft from an optics standpoint. Now it is.