Matt Booty, head of Xbox Studios, entered into an in-depth discussion with Game Informer about Microsoft's methods and philosophy when it comes to acquiring studios and deciding the future of games.
There's a clear sense of choosing what's best for both Microsoft and the studio themselves when it comes to acquisitions, and Booty is clear that for the studio in question, the change has to align with "their journey and their path." "We don't want to go in and change their culture, we don't want to change how they do things," says Booty, when discussing partnering with indie studios, "but it is our responsibility to support them to succeed." He cites Hellblade as a "great example of the kind of game we're looking for from the studios we've acquired recently" because of "how well it was built" and "how compelling its story was".
He clarifies that Ninja Theory will continue to work on projects which were in progress before the acquisition. "We showed Bleeding Edge on stage at E3, that game was in development before we even started the acquisition," he states. Likewise, "there's projects underway at Obsidian...that they've already started working on", which "we'll learn about in the future". When asked if Xbox would allow any interested studios to stay multi-platform, Booty answered that the question is more "does it make sense for the franchise." Basically, would it benefit from the "network effect" of being on differing platforms, or would it be better to have support from Xbox live, Game Pass, and xCloud. For instance, Booty states that Minecraft was "a no-brainer", and they "were never going to try to take anything away from players that existed on those platforms". On the other hand, franchises like Halo and Sea of Thieves were "designed from the outset to really exist on Xbox."
Following immediately on from games designed for Xbox, Booty was asked if The Outer Worlds franchise would be a Microsoft exclusive, to which he answered "yeah, I think that'd be that kind of game." Booty posits that "a narrative", "a set of characters" or a "universe that's big enough" to add onto are things which a franchise needs to "bear weight". He further adds that what he loves about Halo is that it can be expanded upon, and "support all kinds of novels and fiction and comic books". These statements are particularly interesting when taken in conjunction with his remarks about The Outer Worlds, where he states that it's a "great universe that they've created", and that his "hope is that that's something that we can build" and "expand" into "an enduring franchise". Booty believes that State of Decay is "on its way to getting there", and hopes that Outer Worlds "gets that kind of traction." Basically, it sounds as though the The Outer Worlds franchise is exactly what Microsoft would be looking to pursue as an Xbox exclusive, especially as it has that depth of world which would allow for further expansion.
Booty was also asked about Project Scarlett, and whilst he joked that he wasn't in the meeting to decide the name, he has "seen pictures" and has "a sense of what it's going to look like". Overall, there looks to be a lot of exciting changes in Microsoft's future. Given that Microsoft clearly has a desire to form mutually healthy and beneficial relationships with any studio it has acquired, it's safe to assume that if The Outer Worlds proves to have Microsoft exclusivity in its franchise future, it would continue on the same level of quality and with its own original voice still intact.
What do you think about this news? Do you expect The Outer Worlds to become an Xbox-exclusive franchise in the future?
We don't have them yet, but we'll publish a story as soon as we pick up the The Outer Worlds achievements.
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