It’s a positive thing that Microsoft wants to bring some of its first-party Xbox exclusives to PC, but one awkward question remains to be answered: where is Halo 5? During a media Q&A at Microsoft’s //Build/ 2016 conference today, Phil Spencer addressed that very question, while attempting to explain why some games will remain exclusive to particular platforms.
Spencer declined to state that “all” Microsoft published games will hit both platforms. Instead, games will release for Xbox or Windows 10 depending on their suitability for either platform. Using RTS Ashes of the Singularity as an example, Spencer implied that it’s not a great fit for console, even though Xbox One will get mouse and keyboard support down the line.
“If I enable keyboard and mouse on a console – which we will do – and then you download [Ashes of the Singularity] and you’re playing on a monitor, is that a PC game or a console game? I get out of saying ‘all,’ because I think there are games that people want to play in front of their monitor with a keyboard and mouse, and I want to be somebody that builds those games.”
There are games that Spencer believes work fine on both platforms: he cited Forza 6 as an example, and Quantum Break and Rise of the Tomb Raider are clearly other examples. He doesn’t want to make release parity across those platforms a rule, though. “I don’t want to make it some kind of artificial mandate, because then I think we end up with ‘Frankengames’, games that really weren’t meant for a certain platform. And because some suit said, ‘Hey, everything’s gotta run on both platforms’, you end up with something people don’t want.
“You should expect it when franchises look like they belong on both platforms, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a mandate for the studios because it’s not.”
That’s all well and good, but where’s Halo 5? Spencer returned to his Frankengame analogy, explaining that Halo 5 was designed from the beginning to release for consoles. On the other hand, Halo Wars 2 was developed with both Xbox and PC in mind, and Spencer cited that as a reason for its success on both platforms. “In terms of Halo FPS on PC, I think there’s a ton of opportunity for us right now, but I don’t want to get into a world where we’re looking back, like at Halo 5. It doesn’t mean there’s nothing there that could ever end up on PC, but I’d much rather look forward with what our plans are.”
It’s not a thoroughly convincing answer – Forza 6 is coming to PC after all, albeit as a free-to-play variant – but it does serve to quell any excitement that we might get Halo 5 on PC in the near future.