Did Microsoft just break its promise so it could have more Xbox Series X exclusives?

Did Microsoft just break its promise so it could have more Xbox Series X exclusives?

Did Microsoft convince you that you wouldn’t need to upgrade to next-gen hardware to play Xbox Series X games? Think again: many of the games that Microsoft showcased at its Xbox Series X showcase today, including Forza, aren’t currently listed as coming to Xbox One.

Which suggests either some of those games aren’t actually coming out for a long time — or Microsoft has already broken a big promise it made just last week.

For years now, Microsoft has been working toward a future where you don’t need to buy the latest console to play the newest games — many now run on a spectrum of hardware including Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, and Windows PCs — and the upcoming Xbox Series X was touted as the culmination of that vision. It will play almost every Xbox One game, as well as Xbox 360 and some original Xbox titles, and Microsoft has repeatedly telegraphed that many next-gen Xbox Series X games will run on 2013’s Xbox One, too.

In fact, the company explicitly promised that its own in-house, first-party games won’t require you to buy the new Series X console for two years. Here’s Xbox boss Phil Spencer just last week:

You won’t be forced into the next generation. We want every Xbox player to play all the new games from Xbox Game Studios. That’s why Xbox Game Studios titles we release in the next couple of years—like Halo Infinite—will be available and play great on Xbox Series X and Xbox One. We won’t force you to upgrade to Xbox Series X at launch to play Xbox exclusives.”

And here’s what Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty told MCV in January (bolding ours):

“As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices,” Booty explains. “We want to make sure that if someone invests in Xbox between now and [Series X] that they feel that they made a good investment and that we’re committed to them with content.”

Heck, here’s a third version of the promise from March, again with additional bolding:

We’re making the commitment to use Smart Delivery on all our exclusive Xbox Game Studios titles, including Halo Infinite, ensuring you only have to purchase a title once in order to play the best available version for whichever Xbox console they choose to play on.

But during today’s Xbox Games Showcase, first-party titles Forza Motorsport, Fable, Avowed, As Dusk Falls, Everwild and State of Decay 3 were all listed as coming to Xbox Series X and Windows PC specifically — with no Xbox One support and no Smart Delivery feature. Again, these are all games published by Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios, created by developers that Microsoft owns.

To my mind, that only leaves three possibilities: 1) Microsoft broke a huge promise in record time, 2) Five out of the nine next-gen exclusives Microsoft showcased today won’t arrive until two years after launch, or 3) someone screwed up when making the presentation title cards for each game.

Neither of outcomes number one or number two are particularly promising — but when we reached out to Microsoft, their dodgy reply seems to suggest that it’s actually number one:

“Our future Xbox Game Studios titles are being developed natively for Xbox Series X. We will continue to invest in tools for devs to scale across consoles. Which consoles each Studio/game can support will be based on what’s best for their game and their community at launch,” reads Microsoft’s statement to The Verge.

An hour ago, we asked Microsoft point-blank, yes or no, whether it’s still committed to the promise and whether the title cards were inaccurate. We’ll let you know.

After publication, we saw that Avowed’s new website does include a mention of the Xbox One, as does a project page that mentions As Dusk Falls. So does a site for Everwild, which we’re now realizing is also a first-party title. We’re not sure whether we should trust these or the title cards, but are hoping that Microsoft clarifies soon.

Here’s the full list of games that Microsoft showcased today, sorted by the consoles that their title cards initially said they’d support:

Xbox Series X / Windows PC

State of Decay 3 – optimized for Series X, first party Forza Motorsport – optimized for Series X, first party Fable – optimized for Series X, first party Avowed – optimized for Series X, first party As Dusk Falls – optimized for Series X, first party Everwild – optimized for Series X, first party Stalker 2 – optimized for Series X, console launch exclusive Warhammer 40,000 Darktide – optimized for Series X, console launch exclusive The Medium – optimized for Series X, console launch exclusive

Xbox Series X / Xbox One / Windows PC

Halo Infinite – optimized for Series X, will also have optimizations for PC Tell Me Why Grounded – optimized for Series X Psychonauts 2 – optimized for Series X Destiny 2 Beyond Light – optimized for Series X Tetris Effect Connected – optimized for Series X, console launch exclusive The Gunk – optimized for Series X New Genesis Phantasy Star Online 2 – optimized for Series X, console launch exclusive

Xbox Series X / Xbox One

CrossfireX – optimized for Series X, console launch exclusive

Update July 23rd, 4:09PM ET: Added that Avowed, As Dusk Falls and Everwild have mentions of Xbox One on a few Microsoft websites.

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