It was always destined to be Xbox's E3.
Unimpeded by its biggest competitor for the first time in its history, Microsoft could have shown up with just a smattering of new announcements and still have claimed E3 for its own. The fact that it did so with a showcase crammed with games, new hardware, new services, two new studios and a Keanu Reeves, spoke to the fact that Xbox is taking no chances.
There was one thing that united all of Microsoft's E3 reveals -- from Halo Infinite to Project Scarlett, and Project xCloud to Gears 5 -- and that was Game Pass. The subscription service was the one constant throughout Xbox's E3 conference. Over half of the 60 games on show will be debuting in Game Pass, and Microsoft's studio expansion and acquisition strategy is almost entirely influenced by this business model.
Double Fine is the latest high-profile company to join the Xbox family of in-house developers, and its objective (alongside its 14 sister studios) is to create games that can be used to attract and retain Game Pass customers.
Speaking to, head of Xbox Phil Spencer admits that the spending spree is by no means over. The strategy will be familiar to anyone who has followed the Netflix story. The TV streaming platform reportedly spent between $12 and $13 billion on content last year, and that number is expected to rise this year.
"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"
"They're growing their business," Spencer notes. "I think they've done a very good job of investing into where they see the business is going. For us as Microsoft, it is one of the things about having the support of the company behind us. Satya Nadella, our CEO, and Amy Hood our CFO, and our board, see gaming as an important growth category. You can look at our P&L of our company; we're not spending $12 billion on video games today, but as the subscriptions grow and reach more customers, I do think it's important for us to continue to invest in content. 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."
There is no acquisition quota for Spencer and his team to hit. Instead, the aim is to find developers that can add something different for Game Pass.