Interview: Spirittea Publisher On Why Xbox Game Pass 'Very Much Works For Us'
Image: Mike Rose, No More Robots

Today marks the arrival of Spirittea as part of the Xbox Game Pass November 2023 lineup, taking the form of a rural-life RPG in which restless spirits have overrun a cosy mountainous town - and it's your job to fix their issues.

"This is- well... used to be a nice town, but there have been some strange goings-on lately! You're going to find the spirits causing mayhem and fix their problems so they can become paying customers, and get to know the townspeople and explore the mountain to its fullest!"

To coincide with the game's release, we recently had the opportunity to chat to Mike Rose of Spirittea publisher No More Robots, who provided us with a little more insight into the kind of experience we can expect (apparently it's 40+ hours!), his thoughts on Xbox Game Pass as a whole, and even his reaction to Microsoft's recent takeover of Activision Blizzard. If No More Robots rings a bell, it's because their games often feature on Xbox Game Pass - examples include Descenders, Let's Build a Zoo, Hypnospace Outlaw and others.

So, here's our recent discussion with Mike Rose, founder of Spirittea publisher No More Robots:

Pure Xbox: Hey Mike! Could you introduce yourself and your role at No More Robots?

Mike Rose: HELLO. I am Mike Rose. I run No More Robots, and my role is "Be Loud".

Pure Xbox: Today marks the "day one" release of Spirittea on Xbox Game Pass - what can we expect from it?

Rose: We signed Spirittea back just as the pandemic was starting, so this game has been a part of my life for quite some time! It's been a huge undertaking, especially for single developer Dan Beckerton, and it's ended up being a 40 hour+ sprawling Spirited Away sim. It's extremely good, but of course I would say that.

Dan is Canadian, although he spent a large portion of his life in Korea, and has a Korean family! So as you'd imagine, that has all been a huge inspiration for the game.

Pure Xbox: Was Spirittea always intended to be a Game Pass title, and what do you think makes it such a good fit for the service?

Rose: I never signed it to be a Game Pass title, but it certainly makes sense for us — mainly because we just want as many people as possible playing it! Like I say it's a huge game, so I imagine a lot of Game Pass subscribers are going to feel like they're getting their money's worth in November (haha!).

Pure Xbox: Spirittea is the latest in a long line of games you've brought to Game Pass - I assume you're still a fan of the XGP model? Has that model changed much from your perspective over the past few years, and how do you feel about the way it's evolved alongside competitors' offerings such as PS Plus and even Ubisoft+?

Rose: Game Pass still very much works for us — it's helping our games break even immediately the moment we hit the launch button, which reduces a huge amount of stress for us. We've put Descenders, one of our other games, on PS Plus, and that was also great for us! So yeah, in general we're really enjoying subscription services as a publisher.

Pure Xbox: In terms of the wider No More Robots catalogue of games, there's obviously a lot of excitement surrounding what's next for the Descenders series. Is there anything new you can share with us about that? And how does it feel to have Descenders part of the very exclusive "Game Pass Core" lineup?

Rose: Yeah, we'll have some Descenders news to share in the new year — I don't think it's going to be what people think. It's on a scale you wouldn't believe. Being invited to be part of Game Pass Core was pretty amazing yeah, it means Descenders is going to be on Game Pass for an extremely long time, so the idea that people are going to be playing our mountain biking game for a full decade is kinda crazy!

Pure Xbox: I've personally got a big soft spot for Soccer Story on Xbox Game Pass, and the likes of Let's Build a Zoo and Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath have gone down really well over the past couple of years as well. How do you decide which developers to partner with for your games - what defines a "No More Robots" title?

Rose: I get asked this a lot, and my answer is usually "I honestly don't know, I just kinda *know* when I see it". If I had to whittle it down, I'd say it's when I see a game that has something about it that is just completely different to anything I've seen before.

A mountain biking roguelike. A 90s internet simulator. An anti-Brexit management game. A bathhouse life sim. Each of our games can be described in a tiny short sentence, and can only be that game. And I think that's part of what has worked so well for us.

Pure Xbox: Before you go, we're curious for your thoughts about Xbox's recent Activision Blizzard acquisition...

Rose: If it brings more subscribers to Game Pass, I'm gonna be very happy about it! Get Call of Duty stuck on there, get those numbers up, get me some more players!

Pure Xbox: Thanks for your time Mike! Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about Spirittea alongside its Xbox Game Pass release?

Rose: I just hope everyone enjoys playing it — it's one of the most important games to me personally that I've ever been involved with, so I'm extremely excited for people to experience it.

We'd like to thank Mike Rose for taking the time to talk to us. Spirittea launches today on Xbox Game Pass for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and PC, and we're really looking forward to checking out this 40+ hour epic!