Xbox Game Pass launches

Xbox announces ‘record year’ for Xbox Game Studios with 1.66bn hours played

Microsoft’s big investment in Xbox Game Studios, mainly in 2018, is paying off, according to new statistics released yesterday. Xbox’s now far larger development arm is claiming “a record year” in terms of titles released, hours of engagement and critical response.

Head of marketing at Xbox, Aaron Greenberg, laid out the numbers in a blog post.

The studios, which were bolstered immensely in 2018 with the acquisition of Compulsion Games, inXile Entertainment, Ninja Theory, Obsidian Entertainment, Playground Games and Undead Labs (plus Double Fine a year later), now number fifteen (and that’s not including those about to come onboard via the Bethesda acquisition).

In the past year, those studios (or only some of them in fact) have launched 15 titles, of which ten were brand new, with the remaining five being remasters. A record for the studio group. The ten titles launched is impressive given the disruption the industry has seen this year.

And those games generated 1.66bn hours of play time, another record. With Obsidian’s new Grounded exceeding 1m players, and Sea of Thieves passing the 15m lifetime player mark.

It also trumpeted some impressive Metacritic scores, 92 for Microsoft Flight Simulator and 90 for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. While Wasteland 3 scored 86.

And many of Microsoft’s new talents are yet to release or even announce their newest titles. Ninja Theory is working on Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, Playground Games on Fable, Double Fine on Psychonauts 2, and Compulsion hasn’t even announced its next title yet.

It was of course inevitable that Xbox Game Studios would up its slate with so many studios now under the banner. What is intriguing is the budgets and targeting of those titles, with Game Pass being a very different maw to feed compared to the usual pay-per-title £60 releases of a traditional first-party.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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