A treasure trove of leaked correspondence from Microsoft have unveiled numerous internal discussions regarding potential acquisitions, future console strategies, and more. Among the revelations is an electronic message from Xbox leader Phil Spencer expressing apprehension about the significant gap between prominent flagship games on its Xbox Game Pass service, describing it as a “catastrophic situation.”
The communication from Spencer, dated May 7, 2022, states that the delay of Starfield, coupled with the conflict in Ukraine impacting both Redfall and Stalker 2, has created a “massive void” in the game lineup for marketing and distinguishing Game Pass content. It concludes that the company should be mindful of this in the future.
“We continuously discuss the inclusion of a significant AAA title every quarter in the service, and it appears that we are likely to experience a gap of nearly 16 months between major exclusive releases on our platform,” it states. “Halo Infinite being our most recent on December 8, 2021. This truly poses a catastrophic situation for us, considering all the resources we have invested in content across studios through our GP content fund. We must learn from this and devise a plan moving forward.”
Spencer goes on to mention that 2021 was an exceptional year for Game Pass, setting a high standard, while 2022 was a disappointing contrast. He asserts that the team must improve its portfolio planning with “genuine transparency regarding deadlines”—seemingly alluding to the importance of realistic internal timelines. He also suggests the potential of strategically delaying releases to ensure a consistent flow of content.
Game Pass is a crucial foundation for Microsoft, and the company has embraced its subscription service across various platforms and its cloud gaming offering. Over the past few years, the company has acquired numerous developers with an apparent focus on providing Game Pass with a continuous stream of content, as acknowledged by Spencer in the email. However, gamers have certainly noticed the sluggish pace of new content in 2022, and this leak demonstrates that Microsoft foresaw the issue. The company has also subsequently commented on its plans to release four first-party games per year, which would fulfill Spencer’s goal of a quarterly AAA game.
The leak of confidential legal documents has also shed light on Microsoft’s long-term plans for the next generation of Xbox, a mid-generation refresh for the Series X|S, and a roadmap outlining future Bethesda games.