Microsoft is about to expand into not one, but two new consoles as it enters the next generation of console hardware. Yet the lingering question of whether more Xbox exclusives, or even services like Game Pass, will come to other platforms seems to always come up, for Nintendo Switch in particular.
Nintendo's handheld has seen a solid few Microsoft properties make the leap over. Characters like Rare's Banjo-Kazooie and Minecraft Steve have both been added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Formerly Xbox-exclusive games, like Ori and the Will of the Wisps, have made it onto the Switch. Alongside all of it, there's been frequent rumors of services like Xbox Game Pass coming to Nintendo Switch. Yet after announcing Ori and the Blind Forest coming to Switch in 2019, Microsoft said it had "no further plans" to bring first-party exclusives to other consoles. So what's changed, and what still needs to change?
In an interview with Kotaku, Xbox head Phil Spencer says it "doesn't feel sustainable" to consider Xbox games on a case-by-case basis for the Nintendo Switch. Moon Studios is a special case; they were specially request, and the developer of the Ori series isn't owned by Microsoft. When it comes to Xbox's own properties, it sounds like Spencer would prefer the whole environment be brought over, not just a piece of it.
"In order to really support it, I would want a full Xbox ecosystem somewhere," Spencer says of bringing games to non-Xbox consoles. "And that probably means things like Live and Game Pass and stuff."
When it comes to other platforms' interest, the answer has changed, but only somewhat. Kotaku asked Spencer about a previous quote to GameStar last July, where Spencer said "other competitive platforms aren't really that interested in having a full Xbox experience on their hardware." Spencer's reply, when asked about that now, about Sony and Nintendo? "I don't want to speak for them. I think they should probably answer."
Xbox Game Pass dreams for Nintendo Switch do seem to be, at least for now, only dreams. Even though cloud game streaming through Xbox Game Pass could provide a solid method for offsetting the hardware requirement—a method the Nintendo Switch has used before—it doesn't seem like anything's in motion just yet. Today's not the day for Master Chief to make his Nintendo Switch debut after all.