Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Talks About Giving Halo, Forza Teams Extra Time To Make Great Games

Microsoft’s E3 briefing this year was missing a few things some people might have expected. Forza Motorsport developer Turn 10 did not show its new game, while Microsoft’s new studio, The Initiative, also didn’t show up during the event. Some also expected to see the rumored new Fable game from Forza Horizon developer Playground’s second team.

Now, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has explained why Microsoft focused more on the games coming out in the closer future than those that could release further out.

Spencer told Kotaku that he was proud that 12 of the 14 first-party titles that Microsoft showed off at E3 were shipping in the next year. “We were really able to focus on what’s coming now, which I think is awesome,” he said. “And then I think about the studios: where was Initiative? Where was [Forza Motorsport studio] Turn 10? Where was Playground’s second team?”

Spencer said it felt “nice” to not have to show all of its first-party games at the show. He said teams like 343 Industries (Halo) and Turn 10 (Forza Motorsport) have been given “time” to come up with new games that really excite people.

“We gave them time–we did, what, four Halos in four years?–giving them an opportunity to really think and have a creative impact when they launch. Turn 10 is similar. I want to give them time to think through their plans,” he said.

“I love what they do with Motorsport, but you’ve got to be able to listen to your studios when they need time and they want to focus on more things. And as you have more content, you’re able to do that,” Spencer added.

The executive went on to say that quality for first-party games is “very important.” He acknowledged that in the past it “became more difficult” to align the first-party Xbox portfolio of games with release dates chosen years before release. Now that Microsoft owns more studios–it now has 15 owned studios–it’s allowed the company to “create room for [Microsoft] to focus on quality.”

“I feel good about what Rod [Fergusson]’s done [at Gears studio The Coalition], what Bonnie [Ross] has done [at Halo studio 343 Industries], what Alan [Hartman] has done with Turn 10, and what Helen [Chiang]’s been doing with Minecraft.”

For Halo and Forza Motorsport, the wait is already longer than usual for a new release–and as Spencer says, that’s by design. Halo Infinite’s release in Holiday 2020 will be around 5 years after the release of Halo 5 in 2015, which is longer than the average interval between the previous mainline releases. Meanwhile, the Forza Motorsport series (not counting Horizon) has been released every two years since the first game in 2005. The latest instalment, Motorsport 7, was released in 2017.

Microsoft acquired or set up a number of new studios in the past year, the most recent of which is Brutal Legend studio Double Fine that Microsoft announced in June.

List Of Xbox Game Studios Developers

  • 343 Industries
  • The Coalition
  • Compulsion Games
  • Double Fine
  • Microsoft Studios Global Publishing
  • The Initiative
  • inXile
  • Mojang
  • Ninja Theory
  • Obsidian
  • Playground Games
  • Rare
  • Turn 10 Studios
  • Undead Labs
  • Age of Empires

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