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Will Xbox go multi-platform or third-party? Here’s what’s happening

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Xbox has finally confirmed the longstanding reports and discussions that first-party games are set to go multi-platform, but gave its diehard fans some cause to celebrate.

Xbox fans have been fuming over the last few weeks as actual proof of a multi-platform pivot, and a possible move to becoming a third-party publisher, were discovered. This led to reports and speculation from figures around the fandom, which led to many wondering if Microsoft was set to fold the Xbox brand entirely. That’s apparently not the case, though. At least not yet.

In a special edition of the Official Xbox Podcast, the company gave fans a breakdown of what’s happening and why. The bitter shot for fans was confirmation that reports of Xbox games going multi-platform is true, but a chaser was offered in the form of teases of new Xbox hardware and a major addition to Xbox Game Pass.

Is Xbox going multi-platform?

Members of the Xbox leadership team confirmed that some of its first-party releases are set to receive a multi-platform release. Xbox is not making a full move to being a third-party video game publisher, though.

“To ensure long-term success for both Xbox and the industry as a whole, we must continue to evolve. Today we announced that we will expand the communities we reach: we are currently in the process of bringing four Xbox games to other platforms,” Xbox said in a statement.

Xbox didn’t use firm language regarding what its plans are beyond that. Its statement on the official Xbox news blog was vague regarding how many games would get a mutli-platform release, which games were going to launch on other platforms, and whether there would be any sort of exclusivity window for first-party Xbox releases going forward.

Is Xbox going to become a third-party publisher?

Xbox is not becoming a third-party publisher of video games and will remain a console manufacturer. In a follow-up thread on Twitter, Xbox confirmed that new Xbox hardware including a console and controller are coming in the 2024 holiday season.

What this new hardware might be and how many pieces might be coming was not made explicit. There have been reports of an Xbox handheld device, which Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer has been conspicuously engaged with on social media. This was followed by reports that the Microsoft Surface team would be helming development of the next Xbox console, which may indicate a Steam Deck-style portable PC.

Prior to this, internal documents leaked by Microsoft after its FTC case regarding the acquisition of Activision Blizzard included plans of a refreshed Xbox Series console. This new Xbox console was planned to be digital-only like the Series S, but with the specs of the Series X.

Which Xbox games are going to go multi-platform?

Xbox did not confirm which first-party games are going multi-platform but reports and data mining indicate that Hi-Fi Rush, Sea of Thieves, Pentiment, and Grounded will be the first four.

The official statement didn’t name the titles, but gave several hints regarding which would be included.

“These are titles which have been available to Xbox players for at least a year, including hidden gems that deserve to be experienced more widely, and live service games whose communities will benefit from welcoming even more players,” the statement says.

The “hidden gem” is almost certainly Hi-Fi Rush. Hi-Fi Rush was effectively confirmed to be coming out on PlayStation consoles and the Nintendo Switch when a data mine uncovered cosmetic items in the game that referenced the platforms, alongside others that were added to the game for Xbox, Steam, and the Epic Games Store. This followed reporting that a game fitting the description of Hi-Fi Rush was set to get a multi-platform release from January.

The initial word of Hi-Fi Rush going multi-platform was followed by reports that Sea of Thieves was going to be ported to PlayStation consoles. This title is very likely the “live service game” mentioned in the statement.

Following statement, reports from The Verge and other outlets indicated that these two titles would be making the jump to other platforms alongside 2022 survival game Grounded and adventure game Pentiment.

While those two are extremely likely to be made mutli-platform, it’s unknown what the other two will be. The most notable live-service game that needs an injection of new players is Halo Infinite, which Xbox may or may not have abandoned by this point. 2023’s Forza Motorsport may be another, depending on when it comes outand how flexible Xbox is with the “at least a year” indication in the statement.

There was no word on major Xbox franchises including Halo, Gears of War, or Starfield appearing on PlayStation or Nintendo platforms. Phil Spencer spoke with The Verge surrounding the announcement and waffled regarding which games would be going multi-platform, but also did not shoot down the idea.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2. His work has previously been featured by Bleacher Report and The Washington Post, and he was an Assistant Editor at WIN.gg. You can follow him on Twitter / X at @srondina.

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