Microsoft’s first Xbox Series X games will be cross-gen releases

Microsoft’s upcoming next-gen console, the Xbox Series X, will break with tradition by not launching with exclusive games only playable on the new hardware. Instead, Microsoft is leaning into its Xbox Play Anywhere strategy and fully supporting backwards compatibility moving forward.

Xbox Game Studios chief Matt Booty said other first-party Series X titles will also be playable on Xbox One. In fact, Microsoft’s own Series X games won’t be exclusive to that console for a while.

“As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices,” Booty said. “We want to make sure that if someone invests in Xbox between now and [Series X] that they feel that they made a good investment and that we’re committed to them with content.”

He didn’t expand on what that means, but given the upcoming console has hardware-accelerated ray tracing, variable refresh rate and 8K capability, it’s reasonable to imagine the developers will tap into those capabilities.

This isn’t a drastic departure from what Microsoft has been hinting at for months now. The company has said it plans to make all first-party games on Xbox playable on Windows 10 as part of its Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. The company also said back in June at E3, before the official Series X reveal and when the new console was known only as Project Scarlett, that its next-gen console would also play Xbox One games.

This is the first time Microsoft has said explicitly that its new console won’t be launching with a dedicated slate of first-party exclusives, as has been the case for pretty much every new console generation of the last couple of decades. The biggest first-party Xbox Series X exclusive, Halo Infinite, was already confirmed to run on both the next-gen Xbox and Xbox One, as well as Windows 10. But Booty here is clarifying that that will be the case for every new Xbox game going forward for at least a year after the Series X launch.

This approach to exclusivity should make the transition to Series X smoother. People who can’t afford to upgrade as soon as the console launches won’t be entirely left out. Where there might be some third-party Series X exclusives at the outset, Xbox One owners will still have access to several next-gen games even before xCloud comes into play.

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