The launch of the Xbox One X this holiday season is a crucial moment for Microsoft. Lagging behind the Sony PlayStation 4, the Xbox One never managed to escape its poorly received launch, clouded with mixed messages and unpopular policies that Microsoft has spent the last four years winding back. The Xbox One X – referred to as “the most powerful console ever made” in its marketing – is a chance for a clean break.

If it’s to be a success, Shannon Loftis will be one of the people most responsible. In her role as general manager of Microsoft’s Global Games Publishing, she partners with development studios and publishers across the world to bring their titles to Xbox. We caught up at Gamescom to talk about the cancellation of Scalebound, the Play Anywhere program, the impending launch of the Xbox One X, and if Microsoft has enough exclusives to stand tall with the competition.

Game Informer: You work closely with numerous studios. Is there a particular trend at the moment that developers are excited by? Looking towards the future, is there one thing that stands out to you?

Shannon Loftis: I think there are several things. First, and probably most obvious to me, is we started the raw distribution of the Xbox One X development kit, and the development community is just in love with these kits.

They have incredible features that are super developer-friendly. It’s got a programmable front plate so you can track debugging, track literally line by line through code on that front plate; it’s even got a software switch to move from One S to One X.

You can stack them if you don’t have very much room, and there’s extra memory so you can run a debugger at the same time, so it’s just a really friendly environment. So the uptake on things like game enhancements, people adding Dolby Atmos and more 4K textures, has been a lot faster than I would have thought.

So that’s one thing. And then the other is more and more I think we see developers thinking about games like digital hobbies: a game that has some sort of a mechanic that you can engage with deeply and at multiple levels, and then it allows you to self-express; it allows you to create things and maybe share your creations and even just capture great gameplay moments and share those.

It feels like more and more developers want to be part of a meta-social experience as well as whatever the games themselves are. We’re seeing quite a bit of that.

At Gamescom you announced more than 100 titles will be “enhanced” for Xbox One X. Is that mandatory for developers who want to publish on Xbox One, or is it entirely up to their own discretion?

It’s completely up to developer discretion. The truth is, the way that game development works, many developers will start with what’s called a vertical slice of their game. This is like an idealized super high-end version of what they’re trying to create – and then when you add more content and you add more game systems it becomes more complex and you end up having to simplify it sometimes.

And so floating around somewhere, most developers have higher resolution assets than the ones that they actually ship. So it turns out to be relatively straightforward to just turn that into a 4K rendering process, and we’ve definitely benefited from that.

But even developers that, for whatever reason, aren’t doing enhancements specifically for Xbox One X will see their games play and run better on this console just because it has so much power.

The One X is many times more powerful than the One S. Why did you tether it to the One S and not just start a new console cycle free from any lingering baggage?

We have a huge vibrant community on S and not everybody in gaming right now is ready to make that 4K leap. It can be quite expensive to buy the television. The prices have come down amazingly, but it still is a major investment. I haven’t convinced my own husband yet to let me buy one.

Surely it’s a tax write-off for you.

I haven’t investigated that angle, but it’s a good tip. We just want to honor the people that have been with us all along since we launched Xbox One.

The other thing is I think buying a game and knowing that there’s a promise that that game is just going to work in the future, and as we continue to evolve the console, that’s a great consumer value proposition.

The compatibility work that we’ve put in to bring 360 and now original Xbox forward into this generation has been incredibly well received, and if we architect the future correctly, we won’t have to do that custom work anymore. It will just happen.

Is there the danger that by tying the X to the S you’re holding developers back from what they want to do with this powerful new console?

I would say that we have yet to scratch the surface of unlocking what all the power of Xbox One S can do. We’ll see if we ever get to a point where we feel that it’s necessary to evolve console generations – and I don’t know if that point is ever going to come. We made a promise to gamers, and their capabilities are going to come forward with them and their content.

At E3 2016 you announced the Xbox Play Anywhere program. How do you think that’s impacted the Xbox brand? There does seem to be the perception in certain parts of the Internet that Xbox doesn’t have any exclusives anymore.

It’s interesting that you tie those two together. Xbox Play Anywhere is just a commitment that our major IPs are going to be available on both Windows 10 and on consoles, and that seems to be incredibly well-received by people.

I’ll tell you the truth: most of the time what we’re seeing is people buy a game on console, they’ll try it out on PC and maybe go back to console. Or they’ll buy it on PC, give it a shot on console, then go back to PC. By and large, I think just knowing that you’re safe no matter which device you want to enjoy that content on has been a net positive.

In terms of exclusives, I’ve heard that rumor and I’m a little bit confused because we have a really good line-up this holiday. We’ve got the most popular game on the planet in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – the Xbox console is going to be the only place where you can play that. We also have Forza Motorsports 7, which every single year reinvents the racing genre and basically owns racing in the video games industry.

We have Super Lucky’s Tale, which my team’s working on, and it just makes me happy – it’s a beautiful 3D platformer. And of course we have Cuphead, which is long-standing, beautiful, handcrafted IP.

Plus all of our previous exclusives are getting Xbox One X enhancements as well. And then into 2018 we’ve got Sea of Thieves, we have Crackdown 3, and State of Decay 2. I think it’s pretty good – there’s a huge amount of experiences for people to have.

Do you think this is a strong enough line-up to launch a console with?

I think it’s an incredibly strong line-up, especially when you take into account the fact that all of the 100 plus enhancements that we’ve already seen are free to gamers that already own the games, and the backward compatibility program, the continuing exclusives, and the fact that all the blockbusters, like Destiny and Star Wars Battlefront 2, are just going to run way better on Xbox One.

For more game-focused chat with Lofits, head to page two.