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Xbox may be redefining exclusivity with DOOM: The Dark Ages

The multi-platform release for DOOM: The Dark Ages could be signaling the new normal for Xbox "exclusivity."
Xbox may be redefining exclusivity with DOOM: The Dark Ages
id Software/Bethesda

One of gaming's oldest franchises is coming back, and DOOM: The Dark Ages has already drawn plenty of excitement since being unveiled at the recent Xbox Showcase. One pleasant surprise for some fans was that, despite Xbox owning the development studio behind the title, it will also hit PS5 at launch. They're making it sound like this is the exception, but DOOM: The Dark Ages might instead be signaling a long-term strategy shift for Xbox.

DOOM: The Dark Ages could set the tone with Game Pass, but not Xbox, exclusivity


The question of Xbox exclusivity has been a hot topic in recent months, and the company has continued to make adjustments after laying off hundreds of employees earlier this year. Part of their subsequent strategy change was a plan reportedly called "Project Latitude" which seeks to bring Xbox exclusives to additional consoles.

This began with previously released games like Hi-Fi Rush and Sea of Thieves, but DOOM: The Dark Ages will be the first major Xbox-owned release that launches simultaneously on other platforms. However, DOOM: The Dark Ages will also be getting a Day One Xbox Game Pass release.

The explanation from Xbox head Phil Spencer seemed to outline this upcoming release as an exception to the rule, but it harkens back to something they stressed when this platform expansion was first announced. Spencer simply said DOOM is "a franchise that [he thinks] everyone deserves to play," as if that's somehow only applicable this series. He mostly shrugs off the move as something id Software Studio Director Marty Stratton asked for a few years ago in a meeting.

The announcement from Xbox back in February that broached the platform expansion insisted that the titles moving to other platforms had already been exclusives for long enough and deserved to be accessible to more players. The more telling part of that Xbox Wire missive was the massive emphasis on Game Pass near the end.

"To be clear: Game Pass will continue to be only available on Xbox platforms," was about as definitive as things could get. With additional digital only Xbox consoles unveiled at the showcase as well, Microsoft is banking the future of Xbox on the subscription nature of Game Pass and the value that immediate Day One access to their titles will provide. They even reiterated it with a bulleted list including "our games will come to Game Pass day one."

Xbox is done competing with PlayStation. They're now competing solely with PlayStation Plus. This is always a strategy that could change once again, as other Xbox exclusives like the upcoming Gears of War: E-Day are steering clear of a PS5 release at launch, but the current trajectory of focusing on the subscription service over direct game sales looks clear.

We've even seen this stretch to former PlayStation exclusives, most notably with the expansion of MLB The Show. The franchise developed by Sony San Diego jumped to Xbox and Nintendo Switch in recent years, and from the very beginning it was an Xbox Game Pass Day One release. The ripple effects "Project Latitude" could have are difficult to predict, but DOOM: The Dark Ages sales across each platform are sure to inform how Xbox continues to define exclusivity moving forward.