Phil Spencer
Xbox chief Phil Spencer has revealed that Microsoft’s video game unit is shifting its focus toward software. Reuters/Kevork Djansezian

Microsoft will start selling its Xbox One X console this Tuesday, but the good news doesn’t stop there. The company is also planning to release more in-house video games even if this entails either opening new game studios or acquiring some.

Last week, Xbox chief Phil Spencer had the chance to talk to Bloomberg and he divulged a couple of things about Microsoft’s plans for its video game unit. Apparently, the Redmond giant is shifting its focus toward software and services for gamers. This, of course, is quite the opposite of what Microsoft has done in the recent years, such as shutting down studios, cancelling games and receiving a lot of complaints about the limited first-party titles it offers.

While Microsoft may have scaled back from developing in-house games in the recent years, when it had the opportunity to do so it delivered very remarkable titles. For example, its published games “Halo” and “Gears of War” are actually its biggest sellers for the Xbox console. With this change in focus, it is evident that Microsoft has now seen the potential of its Xbox business to grow bigger.

“We need to grow, and I look forward to doing that,” Spencer said. “Our ability to go create content has to be one of our strengths. We haven’t always invested at the same level. We’ve gone through ups and downs in the investment.” As part of this growth, Spencer says they will closely watch the sales of games, subscriptions and other related services instead of just measuring the success of Microsoft’s video game unit based on console revenue and unit shipments.

Spencer also divulged that Microsoft could probably be debuting a new streaming service in the next three years. What makes this service unique is it won’t require gamers to access it using a console. Microsoft has actually ran a trial of such a service in 2012, but it was too costly and never made it to the market. Given Microsoft’s recent progress in Azure cloud services however, this streaming service could be realized in the near future.

Windows Central pointed out that when Microsoft introduced backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games, many thought that it was the company’s response to Sony’s PlayStation Now service. However, it now appears that Microsoft is serious in launching a streaming service for Xbox One games with the added benefit of not requiring consumers to purchase the console. Microsoft should anticipate the challenges that come with internet-based services though to ensure that its new streaming service would work well for its customers.

At present, Microsoft is offering a $9.99 a month Xbox Games Pass. This allows members to download and play over a hundred games on their console. Hopefully, the new subscription service that the company is planning on releasing would be reasonably priced so it can have a competitive edge. Sony, after all, is offering PlayStation Now for $19.99 a month or $44.99 for three months.

Spencer’s revelation about a new Microsoft streaming service comes months after Sony announced in July that PS Now would henceforth include current generation titles, as per Polygon. This means Windows PC users are now able to stream PS4 games directly through their computers.