Xbox gives up four exclusive titles: Are the video game console wars over?

Halo Infinite
Halo Infinite Copyright Xbox Game Studios
Copyright Xbox Game Studios
By Jonny Walfisz with AP
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The Microsoft Gaming CEO confirmed four titles would be available on rival platforms forcing many to wonder why they should remain loyal to the firm in the future.


‘Halo’ or ‘Metal Gear Solid’? ‘Gears of War’ or ‘God of War’? ‘Fable’ or ‘Shadow of the Colossus’?

These were the kind of heated arguments people had in the early 2000s over which of the then-mind blowing video game consoles – the Xbox and PlayStation 2 – is better. If it were a matter of graphics and processing power, the answer would have always been the Xbox. But video game exclusives to each platform was often the true decider of which a customer would eventually opt for.

That discussion may be a thing of the past. Microsoft has announced that several of its exclusive Xbox games will soon be available on rival consoles.

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said on the Official Xbox Podcast that four titles will be accessible on other companies’ platforms. Although Spencer wouldn’t identify the games, he did say that two will be “community-driven” games and two will be smaller titles.

“The teams that are building those games have announced plans that are not too far away,” he said. “I won’t be talking about the titles specifically, but I think when they come out, it’ll make sense.”

He did say that Microsoft-owned Bethesda titles Starfield and Indiana Jones were not among them. The Guardian has stipulated that ‘Sea of Thieves’ and ‘Hi-Fi Rush’ could be likely contenders as the smaller titles.

The decision from Microsoft raises eyebrows over the long-term strategy for its video games wing. Remove title exclusivity from the equation makes differentiating between generations of consoles less clear.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom PainKonami

While Microsoft maintained that there was no fundamental change to its exclusivity approach, Spencer noted that he believes games that are exclusive to one piece of hardware “are going to be a smaller and smaller part of the game industry” within the next five or 10 years.

Microsoft’s Xbox series of consoles has long ranked behind Sony’s PlayStation series and the variety of consoles Nintendo has created. In 2023, the PS5 outsold the Xbox Series X and Series S by nearly three times – with Sony shifting 22.5 million units to Microsoft’s 7.6 million.

Loyalty bonus

It’s a bitter rivalry that harks back to Microsoft’s original console, the Xbox. Launched in 2001, a year after Sony’s PS2, the Xbox was the far superior console in terms of processing power. That didn’t stop the PS2 outselling its rival by 155 million units to 25 million.

The PS2 may have been the highest-selling console of all time, but it looked like Microsoft had undercut Sony when it released its next generation console, the Xbox 360, two years ahead of the PS3. At first, Microsoft sold better but by the end of that generation, the PS3, this time the superior console statistics-wise, was the higher seller.

Both the Xbox One and the PS4 launched in late 2013. Sony got the jump and sold nearly twice as many units – with many arguing it was due to the better exclusive titles on the PS4.

Diablo IV
Diablo IVBlizzard Entertainment

As part of an attempt to turn around their fortunes, Microsoft recently acquired video game maker Activision Blizzard. On Thursday, Xbox President Sarah Bond announced that the first Activision Blizzard game on Xbox Game Pass will be Diablo IV, starting 28 March.

“It’s all part of our commitment to make Xbox, the Xbox experience, and the games that we build as widely available as possible,” Bond said.

How the strategy for the current generation of home consoles will work out remains a mystery. While the PS5 has been out now since late 2020, exclusive releases remain thin on the ground over three years later.

Beyond the admittedly impressive ‘Spider-Man 2’ and ‘Demon Souls’, many of the best releases are often available on the previous generation’s PS4, and even Microsoft admits that Sony has the better exclusives.

“Now, developers are only going to get out like one game for an entire console generation, and it takes them the length of it to make it,” Jordan Minor, author of ‘Video Game of the Year: A Year-by-Year Guide to the Best, Boldest, and Most Bizarre Games from Every Year since 1977’ told Euronews Culture last year.


As the rate of top-shelf game releases slows down, it seems Microsoft have realised exclusive titles can’t be the main draw of customers.

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