GAMESCOM 2017: Xbox’s Greenburg talks PUBG, exclusivity, “At this point, everybody is just trying to catch up with this phenomenon”

We spoke to Xbox’s Alan Greenberg at Gamescom, where we were able to talk about the nature of their partnership with PUBG developers Bluehole.

Microsoft are taking a lot of the heavy load from Bluehole’s backs, offering support with tech, sales and marketing, with the aim of letting the team focus on the PC and Xbox versions of the game and to also bring the game faster to Xbox fans. This new announcement, which will also see Xbox publishing the game first-party, is described by Greenberg as Xbox stepping up their commitment to the title.

There’s a lot of questions around Greenberg’s comments on Battlegrounds’ exclusivity deal with Microsoft: what constitutes an exclusive, and whether players will eventually see PUBG pop up on the PS4, as was the case with Rise of the Tomb Raider, which previously caused a fuss when it turned out that the console exclusive was in fact a timed exclusive.

Messaging here remains muddy. “At this point we’re just saying that we’re publishing it on Xbox, and if you talk to the Bluehole team they’ve been really clear that they are focused on development only for PC and Xbox, and this is going to be one version, one community, they’re not making a separate version for the console, it’s one version and for a team like that, for them to be able to focus their development efforts on one project is great. Still, we’re helping them with additional technical resources for development, which i’m really positive about.

“I can’t speak beyond that, we’re publishing on Xbox and the only development is on PC and Xbox.”

If I were to editorialise, which i’m going to do here after clearly marking that these are My Opinions, I’d say that I don’t think that PUBG will come to the PlayStation 4. I was convinced that console exclusive meant timed exclusive when I heard the announcement, but after hearing that PUBG is getting some technical dev assistance from PUBG,  I’m not entirely convinced.

Greenberg is positive about the game, noting that many at Xbox have been playing the game since the moment it came out, and that it was always a perfect fit for Xbox. “We’ve been fans of this game from the moment it came out, and when we announced our partnership at E3, they had sold 2M units of the game, while today, five months since release, it’s at 8m units.”

“It’s the number one most-watched game, it’s the perfect fit for Xbox, and the integration of being able to stream and create content using Mixer, because it’s such a watchable game, really fits for us too.”

In terms of esports, Greenberg admits that the Xbox team have been talking about them, and that Bluehole are doing great work in the space, but that their primarily goal is trying to get the game to Xbox fans as soon as possible.

“At this point, everybody is just trying to catch up with this phenomenon that is PUBG, and the world has been taken by storm.”

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