Phil Spencer wants other digital storefronts like Epic Games Store or itch.io on Xbox


Xbox boss Phil Spencer says he’d like to see other digital storefronts appearing on Xbox consoles in the future.

In an interview with Polygon, Spencer said he’d like to break down the walled gardens that limit players to only buying console games through that console’s official digital store.

When asked if this meant he could see a future where other third-party stores like the Epic Games Store or itch.io could end up on Xbox, Spencer said he could, citing the way Microsoft handles Windows as an example.

“[Consider] our history as the Windows company,” he explained. “Nobody would blink twice if I said ‘hey, when you’re using a PC, you get to decide the type of experience you have [by picking where to buy games]’. There’s real value in that.”

Spencer went on to explain that the current model of selling consoles at a loss and regaining the money through game sales is becoming less effective, because component prices aren’t dropping so much over the course of a console’s life, while at the same time the console market isn’t growing.

“[Subsidising hardware] becomes more challenging in today’s world,” he said. “And I will say, and this may seem too altruistic, I don’t know that it’s growing the industry.

Phil Spencer wants other digital storefronts like Epic Games Store or itch.io on Xbox
Xbox and Epic are currently battling to get their own digital storefronts on iOS, as Apple tries to resist new EU regulations requiring it to allow it.

“So I think, what are the barriers? What are the things that create friction in today’s world for creators and players? And how can we be part of opening up that model?”

One solution, he believes, is enabling more stores to appear on Xbox consoles, giving players more options and potentially creating competitive pricing.

“If I want to play on a gaming PC, then I feel like I’m more a continuous part of a gaming ecosystem as a whole,” he said, “as opposed to [on console, where] my gaming is kind of sharded — to use a gaming term — based on these different closed ecosystems that I have to play across.”