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Xbox One games: why you shouldn't underestimate Microsoft's core line-up

Don Mattrick and Phil Spencer talk "quadruple-A" and flexible platforms

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Pushed to discuss Microsoft's attitude to first-party exclusives during a roundtable conversation with journalists, he offers a regrettably detail-free yet promising account of Xbox One's core release slate. "I think they're always important. We just ran through our script and counted the number of exclusives, and looked at the amount of money that we're spending and the deals that we have, exclusive windows and [things to create differentiation]. I think, candidly, people are way, way under-indexing how hard we're punching."

"We're going to come out with detail on things and people are going to go, 'oh my god'. Like, 'they were focused, they made this a core goal, core activity'. There are great hits, there's innovation, and there are world class creators plugged in. You know, I keep track of it all, and I hope everyone here does - we kind of look back at all the different years and at what we shipped, how many units have sold. There's a lot of hyperbole about things, but I think we're going to deliver."

According to Spencer, the key to Xbox One's appeal as a development platform is that it's built for flexibility. Where Xbox 360 was originally designed to cater to a fairly specific set of needs, Xbox One is built for a market that has expanded and fragmented, encompassing a dazzling variety of subgenres, business models and complimentary platforms.

"People are playing games on all kinds of devices, and games with different business models, with different engagement timeframes," he explains. "I think when we started Xbox 360 so many of the games were about 'I'm going to play it for four or five hours, and then I'm going to play online'.

"Today our creators are really lighting up with the opportunity to build games that can live as full screen immersive experiences like you're seeing on shelves today, but also the idea of building device experiences that live in the SmartGlass world that connect to what's on the screen. The ability to take your mobile away with you and continue to engage on it, engage with the game. The opportunities today - more people are playing games today than, I think, ever before."

Microsoft's dalliance with cross-platform entertainment has only served to remind it of gaming's importance. "When you look at all forms of content, across all devices, games always pop right to the top of the app stores that are out there - they're a form of content everybody loves." Xbox One is designed to enclose all of these experiences seamlessly, via beefed-up SmartGlass features for mobile software and a part-curated digital storefront that, Microsoft promises, will ensure prominence for lower-budget efforts without miring the dash in Xbox Live Indie-style mediocrity.

"If I want to play a game for two minutes, or I want to play a game for two hours, or I want to play a game with twenty other people," suggests Spencer, "all of those opportunities are available on the platform we're putting forward."

He's unable to share many details of what developers are creating for Xbox One, but he's happy to discuss the broad strokes. "I see our creators really taking that opportunity to think about their games in a more granular way. To still have the full immersive, quadruple-A experience on screen, but also think about how those experiences can roam with devices - and it's nice that our new box actually understands all this through the way it's structured, that people do multiple things at the same time, and I can have shorter gameplay sessions, longer game play sessions."

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