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Phil Spencer Discusses Series S Sales, Halo Infinite and Bethesda’s Deal

Xbox's head talked about what Microsoft expects for their new consoles, Nintendo's alliance, Bethesda's deal, and upcoming releases.

The next generation is about to arrive, with the launch of new hardware by Microsoft and Sony. In their bid to conquer the market, Microsoft will release two console models: the Xbox Series X and Series S.

With this in mind, the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, had the opportunity to speak with Kotaku. In the interview, he took the chance to touch on different topics, preparing for the big date.

Xbox Series X vs. Xbox Series S

At first, Spencer revealed he has both at home. The Series X is connected to a television in his living room, while the Series S is in his office.

Comparing the consoles, the executive made it clear that he's surprised by the Xbox Series S performance. He confessed some games load even faster in Series S, thanks to the lower resolution textures.

Being honest, the Series S has surprised me in terms of how it performs (…) I'm not worried [for its performance]. I think we have proof points, like we've said, on PC, that show that you can get absolutely amazing-looking games on great hardware and have those games scale to the hardware capability.

Spencer expects both consoles to be very popular at launch and estimates they will be sold out. He mentions the demand for these will far exceed the pre-sale supply, and the market will depend on the manufacturing chain more than anything else.

Additionally, Microsoft expects more S Series than X Series units to ship in the long term.

This prediction isn't far fetched. After all, the Series S will cost $200 less than its big brother and will be the gateway to everything Xbox Game Pass has to offer.

I think, over the generation, our expectation would be that price really matters and that you would see the Series S sell more.

The 7.5 billion Microsoft - Bethesda deal

Back in September, Microsoft announced the purchase of ZeniMax Media and all of its subsidiaries for $ 7.5 billion.

While Microsoft has declined to say directly that the Bethesda franchises will be exclusive to its new consoles, Spencer assured that Xbox doesn't need to take its next releases outside its ecosystem.

This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. (...) [However] when I think about where people are going to be playing and the number of devices that we had, and we have xCloud and PC and Game Pass and our console base, I don't have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us.

In this way, Spencer pointed out that his intention is not for the Bethesda games to be exclusive. However, with the developer on their side, he imagines Xbox will be the best option to play them.

Halo Infinite's delay and launch of the campaign and multiplayer separately

Halo Infinite gave a lot to talk about in recent months because of its delay and the rumors revolving around its multiplayer.

The biggest one was the possibility that the multiplayer modes would have a later release than the base game.

Phil didn't rule out the possibility. While 343 Industries is in charge of these decisions, he made it clear they want to make sure "people feel they have a Halo experience" in their hands when playing Halo Infinite.

Any decisions like that would have to factor in the structure of the game and the story its telling. So, yeah, I think that's something to think about, but we want to make sure we do it right.

Judging by Spencer's responses, this possible separate release of the multiplayer section could happen before or after the campaign. So players could first try the experience with other players, which is unusual but interesting, while the campaign is polished.

The relationship between Microsoft and Nintendo

In recent years we've seen Xbox Game Studios games make it to the Nintendo Switch. However, it seems that won't continue to happen, as Phil Spencer considers it unsustainable.

This is mostly because there hasn't been a way to fully integrate the Xbox ecosystem into the hybrid console.

In order to really support it, I would want a full Xbox ecosystem somewhere. And that probably means things like Live and Game Pass and stuff.

One of the exceptions was with Ori and the Will of Wisps, as, according to Spencer, this was the wish of Moon Studios, its developer studio. It's important to remember that Microsoft doesn't own this company, and they worked at the game under contract.

Although it's challenging to see Xbox games on Nintendo platforms, it doesn't mean that Microsoft has a bad relationship with them.

In the interview, Spencer noted they have worked together to grow in the market, and their conversations have been straightforward. As they are in contact with Nintendo's executives, as well as senior managers from its American branch.

We have a very good relationship with Nintendo. And I think we see our work very synergistically, in terms of trying to grow the market. And it just makes it easy. Every conversation we have with them has really been easy.

New revisions, cloud gaming, and the future

Microsoft and Xbox have been betting heavily on cloud gaming through xCloud. This could mean that at some point, it could corner the console market and lead to the extinction of these systems.

However, Spencer believes that both ecosystems can coexist and stated that Xbox would continue in the console business.

In the same way, he committed to bringing xCloud to Xbox One, letting current-gen Xbox owners play the next-gen games without buying a new box.

When we think about Xbox One, absolutely, we think it could be a good way for us to bridge generations and be able to let people play those games. I don't think it's years off. (...) We know how to do it.

The executive also took the opportunity to talk about what Microsoft considers every time they iterate with new consoles or hardware. According to him, the main thing is the cost, and based on this, the improvements that future models could implement are determined.

Our team doesn't go away, when we kind of lock the spec. Some of it is cost. That's always the important thing. How do you drive down the cost of the console in the parts that are there, but also just looking at areas in terms of what are the next iterations that you might do?

He concluded by making some reflections on what awaits to Microsoft and the Xbox team.

We really think about the number of players that are playing on Xbox (...) That's really the thing that drives us.

Our goal now is to put the player at the center, build our services and games around the player experience, and make sure that they know we're in the games business. We're not in a different business. We don't aspire to be in a different business. And this is something we're incredibly committed to.

Xbox Series X and S will launch on November 10.

You can take a look at the UI for the next-gen consoles, already released on the Xbox One.

And also, prepare your wishlist by checking the list of games optimized for both consoles at launch.