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What does Microsoft's "more games to more people on more devices" mean for mobile?

Microsoft walks a fine line with Xbox fans while naming the first four titles coming to other platforms
What does Microsoft's
  • Microsoft to launch current Xbox exclusives Hi-Fi Rush, Pertiment, Sea of Thieves, and Grounded on other platforms
  • Xbox’s biggest exclusives like Halo and Starfield are off the table. For now
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Days after Microsoft confirmed cross-platform rumours with the half-announcement of four undisclosed titles branching beyond Xbox, the names of the games have now been revealed. Those games are Hi-Fi Rush, Pertiment, Sea of Thieves, and GroundedAKA exactly the four games that were rumoured but not announced last week.

All four titles will be losing their Xbox-exclusive status with an expansion onto PlayStation hardware, while Pertiment and Grounded will extend to Nintendo Switch too; Grounded will even support cross-play across Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and PC.

Open to monopsony

Microsoft’s loosening grip on its exclusives is an important sign of change for the Xbox maker following its acquisition of Activision Blizzard last October. In the lengthy process to gain approval from regulatory bodies worldwide, concerns of a monopoly should the two companies merge led to Microsoft making multiplatform promises for high profile games such as Call of Duty. 

The UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority was one of the last to give its approval, but the deal was ultimately completed.

Now Microsoft is opening up some of its catalogue in what looks like a move to appease any doubters. After all, if Microsoft wanted to monopolise, why would Xbox games be landing on PlayStation and Switch?

Small beginnings…

Even so, Xbox’s biggest exclusives such as Halo and Xbox-hardware-shifting Starfield are remaining as such, with Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer working hard to assure Xbox fans that their hardware purchases weren't for naught.

"If you’re on those other consoles, please don’t take this as an indication that everything is coming. Because it’s not," he said.

The Activision Blizzard acquisition leaves Microsoft in a difficult spot therefore, both needing to prove itself willing to play ball with other companies while also giving its fanbase reasons to stay on Xbox.

All four titles crossing over to new platforms are over a year old already, giving Xbox fanboys a good amount of time to have enjoyed the exclusivity, but whether they will be enough to sate regulator remains to be seen. And the lack of 'big names' making the move makes the whole manoeuvre feel like a non-event.

Holding back on announcing which games would go multiplatform until yesterday’s Nintendo Direct presentation - where Grounded even got its own segment - could also be taken as a further demonstration of Microsoft’s open attitude to its platform competitors. And, naturally, launching the games elsewhere opens the doors for these older games to notch up a few more sales too, even if that means four fewer games to buy an Xbox for.

Where to play

"At Xbox, we strive to create games that inspire, entertain, and connect players from around the world. As a publisher and platform we are committed to meeting players where they are, by bringing more games, to more people, on more devices," said Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty.

Further assuring Xbox fans not to leave - and encouraging players on other platforms to move to Xbox - he added: "The biggest games in the world will be on Xbox. Our first party games will come to Game Pass day one.”

Beyond consoles, Microsoft also has new gaming potential on mobile through the Activision Blizzard acquisition; its subsidiary King brings the whole Candy Crush catalogue into the fold with plenty of potential for Microsoft's eventual app store.

Of course, as with its current tightrope walk between consoles, Microsoft will need to keep King happy as it looks to enter another exclusivity conundrum in the mobile app store space. After all, if Microsoft were to make Candy Crush a Microsoft exclusive on their new app store, surely that would do more harm than good to King?

Then again, if Microsoft launches an app store to make more of the lucrative mobile games market, surely having King’s catalogue front and centre its repertoire would be an excellent place to start.

Can Microsoft's multi-platform and mobile moves can please all of the people all of the time? Only time will tell?