Microsoft Open to Possibility of Services Like Xbox Game Pass on Switch as It Seeks to Blur the Lines Between Devices

Microsoft Open to Possibility of Services Like Xbox Game Pass on Switch as It Seeks to Blur the Lines Between Devices

"If any game developer or platform holder wants to come talk about cross-play, I'll be the first one in that meeting," says Microsoft's Mike Ybarra

During Microsoft's lengthy E3 2019 presentation, it was clear that the platform holder is moving the Xbox brand in numerous directions. Xbox Game Pass is on Xbox One and PC, Project xCloud is bringing Xbox games to mobile devices, and Project Scarlett is keeping up the high-end. Even the advertisements of Gears of War 5 around downtown Los Angeles tout the game being on "Xbox Game Pass," as opposed to "Xbox One".

Xbox corporate vice president of services Mike Ybarra admitted that the future vision of the Xbox brand is a slate of games you can play on almost any device.

"Cross-play, cross-save, cross-progression; blurring the line between the device you're on and the experience you're getting," Ybarra tells Microsoft. "Our vision at Xbox is 'The games you want, with the people you want, anywhere you are.' Everything we do, we think about that taxonomy. How do we actually enable that seamless experience across those devices, so that what device I'm on doesn't matter. It's the relationship with the people I'm playing with and how much fun I'm having in that game."

Ybarra pointed to Minecraft as an example. The current version of Minecraft runs on nearly every major gaming platform, and all of the clients play well with each other. For Microsoft, the key is having a good experience on each platform. Even competitor's platforms. Prior to E3 2019, there were rumors that we'd see some sort of Xbox-branded service like Xbox Game Pass on Nintendo Switch. Those rumors didn't pan out, but Ybarra was open to the possibility.

"When it comes to that scenario of blurring the line, I'd love to have a consistency across that. If any game developer or platform holder wants to come talk about cross-play, I'll be the first one in that meeting," he admits.

As Game Pass and other Xbox services continue to grow, Microsoft has also acquired a number of different studios. Ninja Theory, Obsidian Entertainment, and inXile Entertainment were recently joined by Double Fine. In an industry where the Epic Games Store is gobbling up exclusives, I wondered whether Game Pass or Xbox One could see a similar walled-off approach.

"We think about it differently. [Our service] is about giving the gamers choice and what they want to do. You won't see us put our first-party games just in our store," says Ybarra. "We want to go where the gamers are, where they're comfortable in purchasing. If they want to buy it on Steam or other stores, we'll empower our studios to make those decisions. Of course, it'll be in Game Pass. If they don't want to subscribe to Game Pass, and they want to buy it on Steam, our store, or other stores, they can have that flexibility."

Microsoft's E3 2019 presentation has been mostly focused on xCloud and Game Pass, which highlights its shift toward being more of a service provider than a platform holder. Notably, Minecraft Dungeons and Super Lucky's Tale were both announced for Switch during today's Direct, joining Cuphead and the original Minecraft. While it is developing a powerful new console in Project Scarlett, we'll have to wait until 2020 before it's actually fully revealed. Stay tuned for our full interview with Ybarra as E3 2019 continues.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

Read this next

Minecraft Dungeons is Diablo for People Who Are Intimidated by Diablo

We got a chance to see Mojang's first standalone game in a long while in action.

Minecraft Dungeons Release Date: E3 2019 Trailer, Gameplay - Everything We Know

A brand new Minecraft game was just revealed. Let’s take a look at Minecraft Dungeons.

Minecraft: Dungeons Is a Brand-New Game Coming From Mojang in 2019

Inspired by classic dungeon crawlers, this new Minecraft experience is only announced for PC at the moment.

The Good Version of Sonic the Hedgehog Is Coming to Super Monkey Ball

The HD remake of Super Monkey Ball's Wii installment is getting a classic, blue-quilled bonus.

Trails of Cold Steel 3 Review: Christ, Who's Gonna Die First?

The Trails saga still shines like polished steel.

Control Gets a Free Photo Mode Update Tomorrow

Document your time as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control.

Google Sets Stadia's Official Launch Date and Shows Off Its UI

Games are coming to Google pretty soon.

More News

The Good Version of Sonic the Hedgehog Is Coming to Super Monkey Ball

The HD remake of Super Monkey Ball's Wii installment is getting a classic, blue-quilled bonus.

Control Gets a Free Photo Mode Update Tomorrow

Document your time as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control.

Google Sets Stadia's Official Launch Date and Shows Off Its UI

Games are coming to Google pretty soon.

Divinity: Fallen Heroes is On Indefinite Hiatus Due to Lack of Time and Resources

Larian Studios and Logic Artists were originally targeting Fallen Heroes for a November 2019 release.

More on Switch

The Good Version of Sonic the Hedgehog Is Coming to Super Monkey Ball

The HD remake of Super Monkey Ball's Wii installment is getting a classic, blue-quilled bonus.

Blizzard Cancels Overwatch Switch Launch Event Amid Ongoing Public Backlash

The Nintendo New York event has been abruptly cancelled.

Fortnite Upgrade Bench - How to Upgrade Your Weapons

Here's how to use the new Upgrade Benches in Fortnite, so you can upgrade your weapons.

Fortnite Medals List - How to Earn Them, When Does the Punchcard Refresh?

Here's our guide explaining the new Fortnite Medals, and how you can earn them easily.

Fortnite Chapter 2 Map Overview - Named Locations and Landmarks on the New Fortnite Map

Here's our full guide to the Fortnite Chapter 2 map, including a list of all named locations and new landmarks.

Fortnite Battle Royale XP Guide - How to Earn XP and Level Up Quickly

Here's how to earn XP in Fortnite Battle Royale as quickly as possible.