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The Strange Explanation For DOOM: The Dark Ages’s Xbox Exclusivity Exception

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Even though Microsoft has revealed they are open to putting some of its games on other platforms, there was still one surprising reveal at Xbox’s big games showcase on Monday. That would be the fact that DOOM: The Dark Ages is going to be released on PS5, even if it is on Game Pass day one for Xbox.

When we’ve seen Xbox expand its exclusivity to include other platforms, that’s been older games like Sea of Thieves or Hi-Fi Rush. Day one launches of AAA, would-be exclusive games is another matter entirely, and the third DOOM is certainly a big launch. Even though yes, the last two DOOM games were multi-platform, this is a new era where Microsoft now fully owns it. But even weirder than the decision is the explanation.

IGN asked Phil Spencer why this was happening, and his answer raises more questions:

“Doom is definitely one of those franchises that has a history of so many platforms,” Spencer explained. “It’s a franchise that I think everyone deserves to play. When I was in a meeting with Marty a couple years ago, I asked Marty what he wanted to do, and he said he wanted to sell it on all platforms. Simple as that.”

“Marty” being id Software studio director Marty Stratton. But that’s just…strange. I mean, what studio head/developer would not want their game to be played by more people rather than be locked into the Xbox ecosystem? We heard rumblings that’s what Bethesda wanted for Starfield, which did not happen, and Microsoft also indicating during its FTC case that future Zenimax games would be exclusives, which would include something like DOOM: The Dark Ages, regardless of its history on other platforms.

There’s also the “It’s a franchise that I think everyone deserves to play” bit, which obviously raises the point of “okay so all these other exclusive franchises are not ones everyone deserves to play?” It’s just a very strange quote, and none of this seems like a terribly compelling explanation for why this is happening.

The only thing I can think of is this idea that “new” IPs would be exclusive to Xbox like Starfield and I guess things like Avowed and Indiana Jones, but existing series may not be, like DOOM. I thought that was mainly an argument about Call of Duty, given that it was the centerpiece of the acquisition drama, but I guess that does apply to DOOM. I also wonder if Microsoft is doing this so they can use it for future acquisition arguments, showing it’s lending at least some big franchises to other platforms at launch, even if they are on Game Pass on its end.

Still, Spencer wouldn’t say that part, so instead we get this very odd quote. I’ve reached out to Xbox and will see if they have anything else to say about it.

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