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Some Publishers Reportedly Not Sure Why They Should Keep Supporting Xbox

Image: Xbox / Kotaku / Asier Romero (Shutterstock)
Image: Xbox / Kotaku / Asier Romero (Shutterstock)

Reportedly, some third-party video game publishers aren’t sure why they should keep making and supporting games for Xbox consoles due to poor sales in Europe.

In a new podcast from Gamesindustry.biz, the head of the outlet, Chris Dring, explained that while at the 2024 Game Developers Conference (GDC) he heard that “flatlining” Xbox hardware sales in Europe have made some companies question what the point is of continuing to support Microsoft’s brand and its various consoles due to a declining audience and lack of growth.

“The other thing I heard—I heard it from a very prominent company and one not so prominent—was Xbox’s performance in Europe is just flatlining,” said Dring on the podcast. “You can follow our monthly coverage in the games market and you can see that Xbox sales are falling, and it’s been falling throughout last year and it’s falling even harder this year.”

Dring further said that one major company—who reportedly released a “big game” last year—said: “I don’t know why we bothered supporting it.”

“We mentioned on the previous podcast that we’d heard retailers in Europe are considering or had already been cutting back their Xbox stock on their shelves—hardware, games, that kind of thing—and now you’ve got publishers, third-party publishers going, ‘we’re putting in a lot of effort trying to create a Series S version and an X version of a game when, to be honest with you, for us the market is PC and PS5’,” said Dring.

Publishers are starting to wonder if Xbox ports are worth it

According to Dring, from what he heard at GDC 2024, Xbox is “in real trouble as a hardware manufacturer.”

“I didn’t really factor in that some developers and publishers might just go ‘Yeah, is there any point?” and that is when you can lose it.”

“They need to make sure it makes sense to continue to make versions of their games for [Xbox],” explained Dring.

For years now, we’ve heard Microsoft downplay the importance of selling Xbox consoles as the company has struggled to keep up with Nintendo and Sony’s sales of their respective devices. In 2023, Microsoft admitted in court docs that it lost the console war in 2001 and is still losing to this day. We’ve even seen data suggesting that PS5 is outselling Xbox 2:1.

But, like Dring, I always assumed that as long as Microsoft was willing to keep making boxes and selling them, publishers would keep making games for Xbox.

However, it seems flatlining sales in Europe and a sense that Microsoft is no longer as committed to Xbox hardware as before—publishing previously exclusive games on PS5, for example—has led to, as Dring explained in the podcast, a sense of confusion over what’s going on at Microsoft. And sure, some people are still buying Xbox consoles, but if that number keeps dipping and the audience is not growing or shrinking, it makes sense that publishers—looking to cut costs—might decide an Xbox port isn’t worth it anymore in 2024 or beyond.

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