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Xbox Series X launch on schedule, but next-gen games may be delayed by pandemic

Xbox head Phil Spencer says game production is a ‘bigger unknown’

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Halo Infinite - Master Chief holding his helmet at his side Image: 343 Industries/Xbox Game Studios
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Microsoft’s next-generation console, the Xbox Series X, is still on schedule to launch this holiday season, according to Xbox head Phil Spencer. But the games that will launch with that system could see production delays, Spencer told CNBC in an interview on Thursday.

“[Our] teams are doing a really good job on keeping our hardware on track,” Spencer said when asked about the Xbox Series X launch date and the availability of consoles this year. “I’d say that the bigger unknown is probably the game production, just being honest. Game production is a large-scale entertainment activity now; you have hundreds of people coming together building assets, working through creative.

“On the hardware side, we feel good about our plans and [...] there’s obviously some impact to schedules, but overall I think we’re in line with where we thought we would be,” Spencer continued. “On the game production side [...] I still feel good about it, but I also need to make sure that the security and safety of the teams is the most important thing, and not unduly push when things just aren’t ready.”

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Studios hasn’t announced much of its Xbox Series X lineup, outside of 343 Industries’ Halo Infinite, which is scheduled to arrive this holiday season. The only other announced first-party Xbox game, Ninja Theory’s Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, does not have a release date.

Next week, Microsoft promises a first look at Xbox Series X gameplay, led by third parties. Ubisoft will show Assassin’s Creed Valhalla in action for the first time on May 7 alongside other games from third-party publishers. Microsoft said it plans to show its internal game projects sometime later this summer.

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