A trove of leaked emails from Microsoft have shown loads of internal deliberations about possible acquisitions, future console plans, and more. Among the revelations is an email from Xbox head Phil Spencer expressing concern about the long gap between big marquee games on its Xbox Game Pass service, referring to it as a “disaster situation.”
The email from Spencer, dated May 7, 2022 says that the Starfield delay combined with the war in Ukraine impacting both Redfall and Stalker 2 created a “huge hole” in the games lineup for marketing and differentiation of Game Pass content, and concludes that the company should be mindful of this in the future.
“We keep talking about a bit (sic) AAA a quarter in the service and it feels like we are likely to go through a gap of almost 16 months between big exclusive launches on our platform,” it reads. “Halo Infinite being our last on December 8, 2021. This is really a disaster situation for us given all we’ve invested in content across studios at our GP content fund. We need to learn from this and build a plan going forward.”
He goes on to say that 2021 was a great year for Game Pass that set a high bar, and 2022 was “a miss we can’t afford” by comparison. He says that the team will need to be better at planning its portfolio with “real honesty on dates”–seemingly referring to being realistic about internal timelines. He also suggested the possibility of strategically delaying launches to create a steady beat of content.
Game Pass is a major pillar for Microsoft, and it has leaned into its subscription across platforms and its cloud gaming service. The company acquired several developers over the last few years with an apparent focus toward providing Game Pass with a steady stream of content, which Spencer recognizes in the email. But the slow pace of new content in 2022 was definitely noticed by gamers, and this leak shows that Microsoft saw the issue coming. The company has also since commented on plans to release four first-party games per year, which would fulfill the goal of a AAA game per quarter that Spencer references.