• Alberto Mezzalira

Seeing old games do well on Game Pass incentivises reboots, says Phil Spencer

According to the company’s head of gaming, Xbox Game Pass is giving Microsoft more reasons to justify rebooting older game franchises. Xbox’s subscription service allows its circa-20 million subscribers on-demand to access a large library of legacy games from Rare, Bethesda, Double Fine and more.

Speaking as part of the latest Kinda Funny Gamescast (currently subscriber-only), Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that being able to track the popularity of older franchises made it easier to justify the development of new instalments, such as the upcoming Fable reboot by Playground.

Asked if player data on Game Pass incentivises the rebooting of franchises, Spencer said: “Absolutely it does… take Prey, which I think was an amazing game when it came out but a lot of people missed…Seeing more people playing something like Prey, or Dishonored or going back to Fable and [that] you can talk about those games, for us as we sit back as a creative organisation and watch what people are interested in, it gives us more data to think about things that we might pick up and take forward with new ideas and new teams that might want to go do that. So yeah, Game Pass has definitely been a great source… It was amazing when Bethesda came in and we were able to put so many of the ‘old new’ games into Game Pass and going back with the legacy that we have with some of the IP… even thinking about Rare Replay was a really interesting thing for us to go do and letting people go and experience some of the old Rare IP.”

“Game Pass gives us a business model where that makes sense. It doesn’t have to be a [game as a service] version of a game, it can just be ‘this game sits there’ and people enjoy it on the service.”

Spencer has already approved a number of franchise reboots during his tenure as Microsoft’s head of gaming, including Battletoads, Flight Simulator and the upcoming new instalments of Fable and Perfect Dark. He was also asked about 2015’s Rare Replay collection, and if he was planning on doing something similar to other Microsoft studios, and promptly expressed the will of re-release the classics of the now-closed FASA Interactive.

“This is not a preview of something that we’re getting ready to announce but when I think of the work that Jordan Weisman did, when I think of Shadowrun, Crimson, Mech… there are some fantastic, deep stories and worlds there. We didn’t do a good job as a company managing the FASA acquisition, how that came about and the studio ended up… it was not our best moment as Xbox. But the team there and the creative work that they did with some of those franchises was so strong. There are some rights issues with some of those things, but if you ask me flat out if there was a studio in our past that I would love us to be able to open up the catalogue and allow more people play, FASA is definitely at the top of the list for me.”