'Everyone Deserves to Play': Why Xbox Head Phil Spencer's 'Doom' Comments Struck a Nerve

Have you ever said something and then realized that it was going to come back around to haunt you over and over again? Xbox boss Phil Spencer might be spending his downtime with his head in his hands after his most recent statement about the upcoming Doom: The Dark Ages.

When taking this new statement in the context of other things Spencer has said and other business decisions Microsoft has made, it calls into question the future direction of the entire Xbox platform.

“Doom is definitely one of those franchises that has a history of so many platforms,” Spencer told IGN following the Xbox Showcase. “It’s a franchise that I think everyone deserves to play.”

A franchise that “everyone deserves to play.” What does he mean by that?

If you’re not tuned in to what’s happening in video games, Microsoft has begun publishing some of its smaller games, like Hi-Fi Rush and Grounded, on non-Microsoft platforms—the Nintendo Switch and Sony PlayStation 5.

The common wisdom among game industry executives, as well as gamers who have devoted themselves to a single platform, is that exclusives are good. They’re a necessity to prove to your install base why they should buy your game.

If Microsoft is selling games on PlayStation and Switch, then what’s the point of owning an Xbox in the first place? That’s the question posed by so many responding to this decision from Microsoft.

The first batch of games to make the jump were relatively small games, and ones that had garnered critical success or benefitted from multi-platform gameplay. Doom: The Dark Ages, however, will be one of Microsoft’s biggest games of 2025—and the company announced, alongside the blood-splattered trailer, that the game would be heading to PlayStation 5 as well.

“It’s a franchise that I think everyone deserves to play.”

Microsoft has a lot of franchises under its umbrella these days, thanks to a slew of high-profile acquisitions in recent years. Doom, Wolfenstein, Halo, Forza, Gears of War, Call of Duty, Fallout, and the Elder Scrolls series are all massive hits that Microsoft now controls. And we don’t think it’s hard to see the next logical step suggested by Spencer’s words.

Which franchises are the ones that not everyone deserves to play? If The Elder Scrolls VI doesn’t come to PlayStation 5 (or PlayStation 6?), for example, is that because it’s a franchise that not everyone deserves to play?

Spencer’s words were meant to make Microsoft look like the generous good guy while avoiding—hopefully—upsetting Xbox die-hards. What it really is, though, is a value judgment. Worse yet, it’s one that gamers can apply to every game Microsoft publishes moving forward, for at least as long as Spencer is in charge of the Xbox brand (if not much longer).

Or maybe it’s not a value judgment. Maybe it’s a telegraphed swing. Xbox doesn’t want to put any of its franchises above the others—at least, not in such a clear way as suggesting that some of them don’t deserve to be played.

Spencer’s mantra with Xbox games for the last few years has been that “when everybody plays, we all win.” They even have a whole webpage devoted to the notion.

So if Microsoft doesn’t want to put down its franchises, and likes the idea of everybody playing its games, what does that mean for the Xbox brand? While we don’t know what Microsoft’s plans are for the future, this sure seems to suggest that the Xbox brand will eventually go multi-platform for all of its major titles.

Spencer has, for Xbox fans, been a positive figure since he took over and worked hard for years to get back the trust that Microsoft lost with the ill-conceived Xbox One and its television-centric features. He usually offers up realistic but even-handed thoughts about the industry that suggest he’s most interested in seeing as many people playing as many games as one could imagine.

This is one of the few times where it feels like Spencer stepped in a puddle. Gamers don’t forget—not if they can weaponize your own words against you later on. And now as Microsoft attempts a potentially transformative shift in how it views the Xbox platform, we’re left awaiting word on which games are ones that everyone deserves to play… and which aren’t.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

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