Xbox boss would like to acquire more studios

Phil Spencer says Microsoft’s CEO sees “gaming as an important growth category”

The head of Microsoft’s gaming division would like to purchase more studios, including one in Japan, in order to increase the production of unique content for its Xbox Game Pass subscription service.

Xbox Game Studios has grown rapidly over the last few years through acquisitions, with Microsoft announcing at E3 2018 that it had purchased Hellblade developer Ninja Theory, Forza Horizon studio Playground Games, State of Decay maker Undead Labs, and We Happy Few creator Compulsion Games.

At Xbox’s E3 2019 briefing on Sunday, Microsoft revealed it had acquired Double Fine Productions, and subsequently confirmed the formation of an Age of Empires studio.

That means Xbox Game Studios is now 15-strong, and Spencer told GamesIndustry.biz there may be more acquisitions to come, as Microsoft’s CEO and CFO “see gaming as an important growth category”.

“As the subscriptions grow and reach more customers, I do think it’s important for us to continue to invest in content,” he said. “It’s not every year that we’ll add seven new studios, but I do think us looking at specific targets that we need is important.

“I think it would be nice if we found an Asian studio, in particular a Japanese studio, to add [to our studios]. I liked it when we had some first-party capability in Japan. We have a small team there, but I think we can do more.”

Spencer continued: “One of the things I love about Tim [Schafer] and the team at Double Fine is that they build different games to what our other studios build. And that’s a strength. Because just like in video, just like in music, there isn’t one song that everybody loves. There isn’t one movie, or even a genre that everybody loves.

“So with Game Pass, we think about millions of different players and the different kind of games they will play. That diversity is really important.”