Xbox Game Content and Studios President Matt Booty on ‘Beginning to Hit Our Stride,’ Game Pass Strategy, ‘Fallout’ Update, Studio Closures and More

Microsoft Gaming is taking a victory lap after an impressive Xbox Games Showcase presentation at the David Geffen Theater in Los Angeles on June 9, which was anchored by the reveal of “Call of Duty: Black Ops 6,” followed by major announcements across all of Xbox’s studios, including Bethesda, Activision and Blizzard, as well as collaborations with third-party developers.

Matt Booty, Xbox president of gaming content and studios, sat down with Jennifer Maas, Variety senior business writer of TV and video games, to discuss highlights from this year’s presentation, the inner workings of Xbox post-Activision Blizzard, and more for Variety’s “Strictly Business” podcast.

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“We are beginning to hit the rhythm that we’ve always aspired for, and that really is our commitment to our players, of being able to deliver a much more steady cadence of games on a more predictable rhythm,” Booty said. “We started really in earnest with acquiring and building out our studios portfolio in 2018, and then we had the wonderful ZeniMax/Bethesda acquisition in 2021… and then [in the fall of 2023], bringing on board Activision, Blizzard and King. But it has taken a while to sort of get all of that up to speed. And in the midst of that, all of us went through COVID, which certainly had some ups and downs in the industry, across not just games but all of entertainment.”

Listen to the full podcast here:

Xbox’s showcase marked the first time all of Microsoft’s recent gaming acquisitions were featured on the same stage — a factor Booty thinks greatly boosted fan excitement and analyst endorsement surrounding the “critical mass” of announcements. Now, Booty says Xbox is “beginning to hit our stride” and he believes the company is “in a position to hopefully deliver a great lineup and a great showcase next June.”

“I read an article where someone pointed out that this was a year that we didn’t have some of the traditional heavy hitters from Xbox, like ‘Halo,’ like ‘Forza’ — and of course, we’ve got teams working on those projects, and we’ve got a lot of cool stuff to share when the time is right,” Booty said. “But the fact that we delivered, hopefully, a critical mass of excitement, and it didn’t depend on those things that we historically go to, I think it’s just a good indicator and a good sign that we’ve hit that stride and that we’re going to be able to continue to deliver at that cadence moving forward.”

Additional topics Booty addressed on the “Strictly Business” podcast:

  • What the “Fallout” franchise has in store after a new update to its “Fallout 76” live service and Amazon’s hit TV adaptation

  • The heavy emphasis on day-and-date availability of new games, including the next “Call of Duty” title, via the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which saw its biggest launch ever in March when “Diablo IV” made its Game Pass debut

  • The closure of Bethesda studios like Tango Gameworks and the complex decision-making that goes into figuring out the fates of developer teams

  • The increased popularity of “Sea of Thieves” on both Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation since Microsoft began releasing select titles to its primary console competitor and Nintendo Switch

  • The prospect of bundling entertainment offerings in the gaming industry

“Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. (Please click here to subscribe to our free newsletter.) New episodes debut every Wednesday and can be downloaded at Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Google Play, SoundCloud and more.

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