Skip to main content

Xbox boss Phil Spencer issues thinly-veiled dig at Sony's PC strategy

"Others bring console games to PC years later…"

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has issued a thinly-veiled dig at Sony over its PC strategy.

Speaking at part of a pre-E3, "What's Next for Gaming" virtual briefing shown to press this week, Spencer took aim at Sony's strategy of releasing its PlayStation-exclusives on PC years after they come out on console.

Eurogamer News Cast: will Sony's cross-gen U-turn hold PS5 games back?Watch on YouTube

Here's the quote from Spencer in full:

"Across the Xbox ecosystem, we're now reaching hundreds of millions of people every month, and our total addressable market is going to grow while others are relatively static.

"As the Xbox ecosystem grows in both content and total size, it becomes more valuable to both players and our partners. So right now, we're the only platform shipping games on console, PC, and cloud simultaneously. Others bring console games to PC years later, not only making people buy their hardware up front, but then charging them a second time to play on PC.

"And of course, all of our games are in our subscription service day one, full cross-platform included."

Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

Spencer doesn't name Sony in his comments, but it's clear which company he is talking about here.

Microsoft and Sony's PC strategy is significantly different. Microsoft releases all its first-party games on PC at the same time as console. It also releases all its first-party games into subscription services Xbox Game Pass day-and-date. The upcoming Halo Infinite, for example, launches on Xbox consoles, PC and Xbox Game Pass simultaneously.

Sony, on the other hand, has so far released just a handful of its PlayStation games on PC - and only some time after they launched on console first. The latest example is Sony Bend's Days Gone, which launched on PC in May two years after it came out on PlayStation 4.

Also, Sony does not launch its first-party PlayStation games on its rival subscription service PlayStation Now, instead preferring to add them at some point after launch.

Head of PlayStation Studios Hermen Hulst addressed Sony's vision for PC releases in a recent Q&A on the PlayStation Blog. In it he reiterated Sony's stance that it will not publish new PlayStation games on PC at launch.

"We're still early on in our planning for PC," Hulst said. "And Horizon Zero Dawn has been very successful. I think it shows there's an appetite from gamers outside the PlayStation ecosystem to experience the amazing portfolio of games that PlayStation fans have enjoyed for years.

"But I want to emphasise that PlayStation will remain the best place to play our PlayStation Studios titles at launch. But we do value PC gamers, and we'll continue to look at the right times to launch each game. Bend Studio just released the PC version of Days Gone on May 18. So that's about two years after the PS4 release.

"And I hope that a new set of fans can and will enjoy that title. And that's the goal - we want to reach new gamers who haven't yet experienced the great stories, characters, and worlds that we've built. Releasing games on PC will not come ever at the expense of building an exciting lineup of great console games."

Phil Spencer says PC is 'a huge growth opportunity' for Microsoft.

As part of the virtual briefing, Xbox chief financial officer Tim Stuart stressed Microsoft's commitment to PC, saying: "we'll do a lot more in PC for sure."

"We have a huge growth opportunity on PC," Spencer added.

"We expanded to simultaneously shipping our first-party games on both console and PC. And last year, we more than doubled our first-party retail game sales on PC, and we were also one of the biggest third-party publishers on Steam.

"Looking forward, we see continued growth on PC next year, through another amazing slate of Xbox Games Studios games, and Bethesda games coming to PC, while at the same time, Game Pass on PC will be a critical part of our Windows gaming strategy.

"And with cloud gaming, we now have the ability to bring these great AAA-quality games to the hundreds of millions of below-spec Windows PCs that, to date, haven't been able to play the hit games that everybody sees."

As part of this PC push, Microsoft will in the next few weeks add cloud gaming on browsers (Edge, Chrome, and Safari) to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members.

And, later this year, Microsoft will add cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app on PC, and integrate it into the Xbox console experience to enable try before you download.

Read this next