Focus on great games and forget about hardware

What does the future of the Xbox division look like? This has been the subject of heated debate in recent months. According to former Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, Microsoft should get down to business.

Mike Ybarra, once Corporate Vice President at Xbox and later anchored in the industry as Blizzard President, has spoken out after the Xbox Games Showcase (Announcements at a glance) on the future direction of Microsoft Gaming. He addressed both the software and hardware strategies that he sees as effective.

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Ybarra dedicated First, Phil Spencer’s statement that more Xbox games are released for other platforms Microsoft's gaming boss was obviously referring to PlayStation and Nintendo.

According to Ybarra, “the fundamental goal” of this strategy is to become the “world’s largest publisher of great games.”

“You have to make great games that sell and keep players interested on all the devices that are available. Games are the platform of the future – and the social graphs, etc.,” said the former Blizzard president.

Microsoft gaming no longer viable without other platforms

At the Transformation into a multiplatform publisher The hardcore fans could be left behind because they want to see exclusive games on the Xbox consoles. Ybarra can also understand this. He himself has worked on many Xbox consoles and has mixed feelings about the situation.

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However, the business aspects should be the focus: “You have to put the emotions aside and focus on the teams, the players and the business – and make tough decisions. Given the size of Microsoft Gaming, it's simply not sustainable not to include all platforms.”

At the same time, it is “not easy” to take the existing community along on this journey. However, it is the “right plan for their teams and players”.



What hardware plans could Microsoft have?

One thing is certain: Microsoft will not give up on the hardware after the current generation. Last February, Xbox President Sarah Bond already referred to the biggest technological leapwhich is planned with the new generation. it is about “power and performance”as she later added.

It is unclear what kind of hardware Microsoft has in mind. Phil Spencer hinted at the Xbox Games Showcase even the Xbox handheldwhich has been speculated about for a long time. Previously, the rumor mill reported that Microsoft was works with multiple types of devices.

Ybarra also addressed the hardware topic and initially admitted that he had no insider information. But he himself would no longer work directly with hardware in the future.

He advises: “There are tons of third-party hardware companiesthat make PC handhelds – take advantage of them and focus on making great games and making Windows work well on those devices.” There is a lot of work to be done on the last point in particular.

Microsoft could develop something like that. They are actually very good at it. But according to Ybarra, it would be too expensive and would only be produced in small numbers. Perhaps it would be smart to “sell a handheld for $600 to $800.” But the former Blizzard president would not do it. “Too much distraction, cost and risk,” he believes.

New hardware for the current generation has been known since the weekend:



Xbox Game Pass for PlayStation?

Ybarra also sees no red lines with the Xbox Game Pass: “Focus the entire organization on games and bring your subscription to PS and other devices – which, aside from the emotions, is what players will ultimately embrace on a large scale.”

Ultimately, he doesn't want to take a particular side and concludes his commentary with the following words: “Exciting times for gamers everywhere. And I wish all platform operators and publishers every success. Especially as a gamer, the future of gaming looks bright – and I'm very happy about that!”

These are very personal views. However, Ybarra had insights into the industry like no other. He worked for Microsoft for around 20 years, later at Blizzard. His most recent positions included:

Blizzard Entertainment:

  • President (2021 – 2024)
  • Executive Vice President & GM, Platform and Technology (2019 -2021)

Microsoft:

  • Corporate Vice President – ​​Xbox Live, Xbox Game Pass, Mixer (2017 – 2019)
  • Corporate Vice President of Program Management, Xbox Platform (2014 – 2016)
  • Partner Studio Manager, Xbox Studios (2011 – 2014)
  • General Manager, Xbox Live (2009 – 2011)

In his first years at Microsoft, Ybarra worked as a systems engineer and as general manager for Windows 7, among other things. In early 2024 he surprisingly announced his departure from Blizzard Entertainmentjust months after being acquired by Microsoft.

What do you think about this topic? Do you follow Ybarra's approach or would you pursue a different strategy if you were the head of Xbox or Microsoft?

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