Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has been doing the rounds on the interview circuit lately, and his latest interview was with the YouTube channel Same Brain, where he talked for around 40 minutes about a variety of topics.
One of those topics was the "Future of Xbox", during which Spencer admitted that the team has heard the feedback about a lack of "big" first-party releases in 2022, and this is something that's top of mind going into 2023:
"One thing we've definitely heard loud and clear is it's been too long since we've shipped what people would say is a big first-party game. We can have our excuses on COVID and other things, but in the end, I know people invest in our platform and they want to have great games."
Xbox originally had more first-party games scheduled to release in 2022, including Redfall and Starfield from Bethesda. As a result, the 2023 slate for Xbox looks much stronger right now, with the likes of Forza Motorsport and Minecraft Legends also confirmed for early next year, and Spencer has suggested those games are "tracking well":
"We're excited about 2023, we've talked about games that are coming. Those games are tracking well, we're kind of out of what COVID did to the production schedule. And I think as an industry, we've had fewer games than we've had in a while... I'd say in general we've been a little light, but I look at 2023, and there's a great lineup of games that I'm excited about."
In terms of other plans for the future, Spencer confirmed that a big update for the PC Game Pass app will be available in the next couple of weeks, the team is investing "more and more" in Xbox Cloud Gaming, and longer-term focuses include thinking about new hardware, new partnerships and even what Xbox can do in the mobile space.
As for what he's "most excited about" over the next couple of years? Again, it's those first-party studios:
"A lot of teams that have joined Xbox over the past few years, [we're] starting to see their next thing. Because some of them when they joined the team — take Psychonauts 2 from Double Fine — they were obviously in the middle of development when they joined Xbox — but now we're starting to see what the teams are working on next."
"I get really excited just about their ambition to go and do cool, new things... They're having a lot of feedback because we're looking right now at future platform stuff and what we might be doing, and getting those creators telling us what they wish they could do, and that is just so, so important for us as we look at where our platform is going to go.
Exciting times ahead, then! In the meantime, here's what's been confirmed for Xbox Game Pass in 2023 so far: