As PAX we had the chance to site down with with general manager of Microsoft’s Global Games Publishing, Shannon Loftis, to discuss the new console and pose some questions about the past, present, and future of Xbox. Naturally, the conversation touched on one of the bigger console releases this holiday season - the debut of PUBG on Xbox One.
One exclusive, or console exclusive, that has grown to become one of the most anticipated Xbox One releases this year is the debut of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or PUBG in December. A relatively unique story of a game that became an almost overnight phenomenon this year. Plus, there’s the whole thing about it being an online shooter from a small team and a title that is still in Early Access. When asked about current trends in the industry or shifts that are more indicative of the current climate, the conversation naturally led to world of the Battle Royale.
“One of the big innovations, one of the big things that's changed in game development is that it used to be a developer to gamer kind of monologue,” Shannon says. “And now more and more you're seeing games like PUBG, which comes out in an Early Access form. And I think Bluehole and the PUBG group have done an amazing job of just listening to what people say and modifying that game on an almost daily basis.”
“And so, I think that's going to be more typical of both console and PC development moving forward,” Shannon continues. “This early engagement with the gaming community. It may change the way that games are, I'm not too good at the prognostication of E3 type shows, but it might change the way that games are announced. Getting that gamer input early is just crucial to engaging the community and delivering what people want.”
You wouldn’t blame anyone from Microsoft highlighting PUBG when talking about new gamer trends, development trends, or even the Xbox One’s holiday line-up. Getting the highest selling PC game this year on the console is a great coup. In fact, one wonders how and when Microsoft decided to actively pursue a console release for the game.
“It's my secret sauce. I can't tell you that,” Shannon Loftis jokes. “What I'll tell you though is that we watched streaming services and we watched Steam concurrent numbers, and we do that a lot. We're constantly looking, and we have people passionate about games, Mike Ybarra is a great example of somebody, and he's our platform lead, who loved the game from the first time that he played it and he was a big advocate internally. So, between the gamers we know and love and the publicly available sources of information, sometimes you get lucky and get in first.”
But securing a release is only part of the story, and in the case of PUBG coming to Xbox One it’s no secret that Microsoft has been working closely with Bluehole to provide extensive development support and tools to make the transition as easy, and timely, as possible.
“We've done it a couple of times before,” Shannon tells me. “We did it with Minecraft prior to our acquisition and we did it with the World of Tanks game and a couple of others. And so, we have a wide variety of different ways that we can engage with developers. We can either provide with them with funds so that they can source their development, or we can provide them with the source of the development and lots of different things in between.”
Check back tomorrow for our full interview with Microsoft's Shannon Loftis