After having used the wooden tongue for many months, Philou Spencaire, director of branch Xbox in Microsoft, gave us an exclusive interview:
- Mr. Spencaire, we have the impression that the console is not ready. We still haven’t seen any gameplay recorded on the machine, we haven’t had any demonstration of the power of the console, and even in your productions, the titles that will take full advantage of the console won’t arrive for two years. . Our question is simple: is the console ready for release this year?
In fact, the Xbox Series X was due out in 2022. That’s what we had planned. But Sony caught us off guard with Mark Cerny’s interview for Wired, giving some initial information on the console. We understood that they were planning to launch the PlayStation 5 in 2020, so we revised our plans. The console will therefore be released this year, but not being fully ready, it will be available in Early Access.
That the console will continue to evolve for two years. That what gamers will have this end of the year does not match our full vision of what Xbox Series X should be like.
- How are things going to evolve? Is the console not ready?
The hardware is ready. But not the software: since the console was not planned before 2022, we had not sent devkits to the developers. They have only had them for a few months and are still learning to master them. That’s why you still haven’t seen gameplay running on the console: no game is ready.
- What about the titles expected at launch?
These will be the Xbox One versions that actually run. The hardware will boost performance to provide a gain in resolution and performance, but it will not be Xbox Series X versions at first.
- Does this explain the arrival in a second phase of ray-tracing on Halo Infinite?
Absolutely. The developers at 343 Industries are still studying devkits.
- Was Halo Infinite expected to release this year?
No, it was due out in 2022 with the console. But since we moved the console release forward and needed a big license at launch, we moved the Halo Infinite release forward. But as you have seen, if we cut two years of development from a project, that has repercussions. That’s why there will be many fixes after launch.
- You assured that the titles developed by first-party studios would be cross-gen for at least two years …
In reality, these are titles developed on Xbox One. With the Xbox Series X releasing earlier than expected and offering performance boosts on Xbox One titles, we have decided to release them to the console as well, passing them off as cross-gen titles.
- And what about titles developed exclusively for the Xbox Series X? Forza Motorsport, Fable?
The console was initially due out at the end of 2022. These games are expected from 2022 and should have been the first big exclusives for the console. We brought forward the release of the Machine and Halo Infinite, but we couldn’t do that on all titles, hence they will be coming much later.
- Some titles, like The Medium, are released on Xbox Series X, not Xbox One. How do you explain it if the developers didn’t get the devkits on time?
These are upgraded Xbox One versions. You can read up on the system requirements for The Medium and you will find that it would be quite possible to run the game on an Xbox One with good optimization. But we agreed with the developers to release it only on Xbox Series X.
- Concretely, what will be the impact of this Early Access for the players?
With rare exceptions, they won’t have games developed specifically for the console for 2 years. They will have upgraded Xbox One versions thanks to the performance of the console. Regular patches will gradually improve the visual experience of their titles.
- Are you not afraid that this strategy will harm you against Sony’s PlayStation 5?
With our 12 Teraflops? Not at all.