There was a time when Microsoft was more dominant in terms of first-party exclusives, back when Halo and Gears were in their pomp. Those days are long gone now - Nintendo has remained consistent and Sony has to be credited for its efforts surrounding first-party - and you could argue that Microsoft is playing catchup at the moment.
That's how the situation was presented to Microsoft's Phil Spencer in a recent interview, during which the man from Xbox was asked about a perceived diminishing of quality in terms of first-party. While Spencer didn't go as far as acknowledging a drop in quality, he did use the recent acquisition of several studios as an example of the company's renewed focus on signing exclusives for Xbox and Windows 10 PC, a move that gives them a broader range of titles, thus buying teams extra time to get things right as there is less pressure to ship the games.
"I think quality of first party is very important," Spencer told Kotaku. "We did reach a time in our first party where the number of games and studios that we actually had and were investing in put a lot of pressure on everything that we were doing. And it became more difficult to manage a portfolio when you kind of needed everything at any point to hit the date that it had picked three years ahead of time at the very high level of quality.
Moving onto the current regime, Spencer said: "The support that we're getting now and we've had over the last couple of years has allowed us to invest in our first party, adding eight new studios and really create room for us to focus on quality."
"I think what I see now with Matt Booty running first party and the number of studios that we have and the number of games in development is; I don't feel that I need to announce things at a wrong time in order to win some rating system somewhere," he added later.
"I feel like I can give teams the time they need in order to get the right creative positions in place so they're building the game that they want to build. And when things require more time, we can afford to make sure that we're giving things the right amount of time."
If extra time in the oven can return Halo and company to the top of the pile, Xbox fans will no doubt be delighted by the recent studio acquisitions, with the most recent being Double Fine.