Xbox Head Phil Spencer Is Probably Playing Starfield Right Now

Starfield isn’t out until September 6, but Xbox head Phil Spencer already appears to be playing the massive spacefaring RPG.

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The Xbox app has a section called “popular with friends” that shows you the games your buddies are playing. It can be a handy little tool for bothering your friends about their progress in Diablo IV or needling them over their refusal to stop playing Overwatch 2 (it’s me, I’m that friend).

But based on a picture shared on Reddit, it looks like at least one person has early access to Starfield: Phil Spencer. The screenshot shared shows Spencer’s Xbox profile picture, an Xbox Avatar version of him (notice he’s also wearing a t-shirt and jeans, so it’s lore-accurate) against a purple background, underneath both Starfield and Exoprimal, a dinosaur shooter from Capcom that came to Xbox Game Pass on July 14.

While Spencer playing Exoprimal checks out as the game just launched, his apparent access to Starfield is interesting. It makes sense, though—Spencer and Todd Howard have worked closely together to promote the upcoming Bethesda RPG ever since Microsoft bought Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax in 2021. At Summer Game Fest, they sat down for a press presentation alongside the head of Xbox Game Studios, Matt Booty, and head of Xbox’s gaming ecosystem, Sarah Bond. If you’re the head of Xbox, you can have a little Starfield early access as a treat.

After several delays, Starfield is finally dropping this fall. The “irresponsibly large game,” as Pete Hines called it during his FTC testimony last month, boasts space combat, extensive ship customization, 1,000 worlds and over 250,000 lines of dialogue, as we learned during the massive Starfield Direct from Summer Game Fest.

Based on the Reddit post, it seems like Spencer was playing Starfield on July 14, the day the news dropped that the FTC failed to pause Microsoft’s $69 million purchase of Activision. Maybe he was celebrating the lengthy battle by hopping from planet to planet in Starfield, his mind finally free from fretting over whether Microsoft would get another jewel in its gaming Infinity Gauntlet or not. In space, no one can hear you gloat.

When Is FF7 Remake And FF16 Hitting Xbox? Phil Spencer Responds

Final Fantasy VII's heroes look out at the world beyond Midgar.

Image: Square Enix

Years after its PlayStation release and its eventual PC port, Final Fantasy VII Remake still isn’t on Xbox. Final Fantasy XVI ended up being a PlayStation 5 console exclusive as well. When will Xbox fans finally get to play these hit RPGs on their game system of choice? That’s what IGN asked Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer at Gamescom 2023. “I’m not going to push them,” he replied. “[Square Enix is] going to have to find their own rhythm.”

A PC version of Final Fantasy XVI has already been confirmed, and an Xbox version has been rumored to be a likely possibility at some point following the end of a console exclusivity agreement with Sony. Will that be six months from now, or years? Final Fantasy VII Remake still hasn’t come to the Microsoft platform, even with its sequel, Rebirth, right around the corner. Spencer spoke about the nuances and slow-burn nature of trying to build up Xbox’s relationship with Square Enix in a recent interview with IGN.

“I recognise that when people buy an Xbox, they want to make sure the great games that they want to play are coming,” he said. The veteran executive added that he and corporate VP Sarah Bond have flown out to Tokyo, Japan to have conversations with the RPG publisher, and that it was a big deal for the company’s new CEO Takashi Kiryu and Final Fantasy director Naoki Yoshida to commit to the platform on stage at the recent Final Fantasy XIV fanfest, where it was announced that the long-running MMO would finally begin rolling out on Xbox later this year.

“There’s obviously business deals and relationships that will have to get worked through on certain games,” Spencer said. “So you’ll hear more. I’m not going to push them. They’re going to have to find their own rhythm.”

Read More: Everything We Saw At Gamescom 2023 Opening Night Live

Those existing business deals were hinted at during a recent five-day court trial with the Federal Trade Commission over Microsoft’s plan to buy Activision Blizzard. Spencer testified that acquisitions were a necessary part of the company’s strategy to counteract paid exclusivity agreements from Sony aimed at keeping games like Ghostwire: Tokyo, Deathloop, and Final Fantasy XVI off Xbox for a certain period of time. It also came out during the trial that one of the things that spurred Microsoft to buy Bethesda was the fear that Starfield might end up becoming a timed PS5 exclusive as well.

Where exactly does that leave Final Fantasy VII Remake and Final Fantasy XVI? It’s still far from clear when the games will come to Xbox, but it increasingly sounds like they’ll probably get there one day. Hopefully before Final Fantasy VII Part 3 and Final Fantasy XVII are out.


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