How close to being completed was Scalebound when the decision to cancel it was made?

We’re not really talking about the state of the game. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make to discontinue it. Platinum is an amazing, incredibly talented developer.

When we make game decisions, we ask ourselves: Is this the right game? Is it the right experience? Is it the right time? And unless we can answer yes to all three, we won’t continue on with a development cycle.

And you know, Platinum is obviously doing great. They came out with Nier: Automata, and I thought that was an incredible game, and I’m super excited to see what they do next.

Which of those three categories that you listed did Scalebound fail?

Yeah, that’s one of the things I’m not really talking about.

You purchased Minecraft in 2014 for 2.5 billion U.S. dollars. Is that game showing any signs of slowing down?

It’s incredible how Minecraft just continues to expand. One of the things that’s nice about it is that it’s ubiquitous, so you can play Minecraft on a Nintendo Switch, you can play it on a Sony PlayStation, or on your smartphone, and because I think it’s so ubiquitous, and it’s so infinite in its play variety, it doesn’t age.

What I’m particularly excited about is our expansion into education. We’ve recently launched a product called Minecraft Education Edition. We actually got to demonstrate it for Angela Merkel, which was really cool. That was a bucket list item.

It’s taking an organic grassroots movement – teachers were using Minecraft and creating lessons anyway – and then giving it a forum to then share lessons and pick up lessons from other teachers. I think that is an incredible expansion of the capabilities of the game.

This is probably a horribly cynical question, but why don’t you make Minecraft an Xbox exclusive?

Because Minecraft players don’t want that. Minecraft is a game that unites communities in a way that I think is very unique in the games industry, so we’re embracing it.

We just announced Rise of Nations, which is a game we released six years ago – it’s been on Steam for the last several years, and we just announced that we’re bringing it to Windows 10 and we’re actually supporting cross- network play between Steam and Xbox Live. So we’re experimenting with really bringing gamers into the family from everywhere.

Sony has 16 studios under its umbrella. After the recent closures of Lionhead and Ensemble, and the departure of Bungie and Twisted Pixel, Microsoft only appears to have seven. Has Microsoft invested enough in internal development talent to compete with PlayStation on the exclusives front?

My role is to work with partner studios. We refer to it as first-party development: Age of Empires is obviously our property and it’s a first-party effort, and Crackdown is a first-party development effort.

I can only speak from my perspective. My charter has actually expanded significantly in the last several years, so I am pursuing multiple markets, multiple platforms, with the Age of Empires and Rise of Nations work, and the sky’s the limit really... it’s sort of intentional for me to expand our partnership relationships, so I feel great about the output and productivity of our internal studios.

I mean, Minecraft is in a continuous innovation cycle, and Sea of Thieves I think is going to be a real scene-changer. When it comes to the general public across the board, Turn 10 I think is probably one of the best studios in the entire world, just in terms of continuously creating and recreating games that define the racing genre. I think we have a great amount of first-party output.

Remedy exclusively made Xbox games for 10 years, but recently Sam Lake revealed that his studio is now working on multi-platform games. What does that mean for Microsoft and Alan Wake and Quantum Break?

We have a great partnership with Remedy. I support any studio’s growth and change. I think this is an incredibly healthy thing for Remedy to do, and we still talk to them all the time. We have two really great products in the market with them with Quantum Break and Alan Wake.

We mentioned [at Gamescom] that Quantum Break is coming to Xbox One X with the 4K enhancement this holiday, and we continue to explore opportunities with Remedy and many other great developers.

We got Halo on the original Xbox and Gears of War with the Xbox 360 – do you think that you’ve added an iconic IP of that caliber in the Xbox One generation?

Wow, that’s a really interesting question. IPs in my observation seem to be developing a little bit differently this generation than they did in the previous generations.

In the previous generations, you had these massive blockbuster hits that a lot of the time were kind of telegraphed up front by the budget that was spent on them, and people would wait out in line to get the game
and everything.

But there’s just an incredible amount of content right now that moves through every single gaming ecosystem – whether it’s Steam, PlayStation, Apple – and it’s harder and harder for gamers to know where the quality is going to come from. So some of the biggest hits of today actually started really small. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a great example of a game that didn’t launch with a massive marketing campaign or anything like that.

And we have a few IPs that my team brought to the table over the last [generation] – I think Quantum Break is a really good example of a world and a phenomenon where there’s still a lot of story that we can tell.

Announcing ReCore: Definitive Edition was a little bit of a signal to people that got into the world of Far Eden and fell in love with these characters that we believe that that’s an IP with a lot of legs.

I think that the key to developing these IPs into something really special and something really monumental is sticking with them.

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