If Starfield comes to PS5 it's game over for Xbox
Microsoft may put Xbox exclusives on PS5, changing the gaming landscape as we know it
Microsoft is reportedly planning to release Starfield on PS5, along with several other Xbox exclusives like Sea of Thieves, Hi-Fi Rush, and even the recently announced Indiana Jones and the Great Circle.
And if that happens, it could be game over for Xbox as we know it.
According to XboxEra, Microsoft will bring Starfield to PS5 shortly after the game’s “Shattered Space” expansion is released. Microsoft has also invested in more PlayStation 5 development kits, suggesting the Redmond-based company is serious about supporting Sony’s console.
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What’s more, The Verge claims that sources inside Microsoft are weighing up whether to release Indiana Jones and the Great Circle on PS5, a game that would have undoubtedly helped drive Xbox console sales.
The news of more Xbox games coming to other platforms comes after speculation that Sea of Thieves and Hi-Fi Rush would launch on PS5 and potentially Nintendo Switch, but why would Microsoft take its library of exclusive games and give them to its staunchest rival?
Ultimately, the decision comes down to money. Bringing titles that were previously locked to the Xbox ecosystem to Sony’s console will make more revenue and keep the shareholders happy for another quarter.
In the short term, it seems like a no-brainer. But the damage it will do to the Xbox brand and hardware sales in the long term shouldn’t be underestimated.
Let’s look at Starfield as an example. Starfield attracted over six million players during launch week across Xbox consoles and PC, but many of those will have been through Xbox Game Pass. Selling Starfield for $70 on PS5 could bring in another couple of million players and make Microsoft some serious cash as a result.
But the flip side is that it’ll also make money for Sony. The Japanese electronics giant takes a 30% cut of any game sold on its console, meaning it’ll receive a nice cash injection whenever Microsoft releases an Xbox exclusive on PS5 without having to lift a finger.
Microsoft CEO of Gaming Phil Spencer pointed out the problem with this arrangement during the company’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
“Every time we ship a game on PlayStation... Sony captures 30 percent of the revenue that we do on their platform and then they use that money among other revenue that they have to do things to try to reduce Xbox’s survival on the market,” said Spencer during Microsoft’s legal battle with the FTC.
However, it seems like Microsoft is no longer worried about fuelling Sony’s war chest and the implications that could have on Xbox gamers in the future.
Sony has a habit of paying for third-party exclusivity deals, and we’ve already seen that play out this generation with games like Final Fantasy 16, Forspoken, Silent Hill 2 remake, Stellar Blade, and many more. The extra cash flow from Microsoft’s games will only give Sony more funds to lock down more exclusive content for PlayStation gamers.
Xbox, go home
Microsoft will make more money putting its games on PS5, then, but by bringing the likes of Starfield, Sea of Thieves, or Hi-Fi Rush on PS5, it also makes it impossible to recommend purchasing an Xbox console.
Why would anyone purchase an Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, or the upcoming Xbox Series X Slim when you can also enjoy all of the best PS5 games and countless other titles that will categorically never come to Microsoft’s consoles on Sony’s platform?
It’s not like the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are selling gangbusters, either, which makes the move even more damaging. One of the main criticisms when it comes to PS5 vs Xbox Series X is the lack of compelling exclusives on Microsoft’s flagship console, and soon that narrative will look even worse.
Microsoft has recently said “When everybody plays, we all win”, and that’s true to a degree. Making games more accessible across every device is a noble aim, but when you’re in the business of selling hardware, it isn’t a realistic one.
The Nintendo Switch is the second best-selling console of all time because it’s the only place you can play an excellent lineup of fantastic exclusive games from Nintendo’s revered IP. And it seems like Microsoft has lost sight of that.
Sony. Why’d it have to be Sony?
Xbox gamers who have been doggedly loyal to Microsoft will have been hoping that the tides were beginning to change. Indiana Jones and the Great Circle looked like the Xbox exclusive Microsoft desperately needed, and the recent purchase of Activision Blizzard could only be met with excitement.
But with the seemingly impending news that Microsoft is essentially becoming a third-party publisher in all but name, it’s hard to see how the Xbox brand will recover from this latest setback when it’s already firmly in third place according to Phil Spencer.
Personally, there’s no reason for me to buy the next Xbox if all of its exclusives come to PS5 or the Nintendo Switch 2. I already own a gaming PC where I can play Xbox games on day one, but the simplicity of plugging in a console to your TV and laying back on the couch still can’t be beaten.
Now, though, owning an Xbox alongside a PS5 will be the equivalent of an expensive paperweight that doesn’t do anything differently from the devices I already own.
We’ll have to see how Microsoft spins the news that Starfield is coming to PS5 in a positive light but expect the reaction online to be vitriolic, to say the least. And some will argue rightly so.