Microsoft's Matt Booty, who has just been promoted to President of Game Content and Studios at Xbox, shared interesting insight on his philosophy regarding studio leadership and portfolio strategy.
During an interesting interview on The Fourth Curtain, Booty mentioned that games of all sizes matter at Microsoft, from big titles like Skyrim and Halo to Psychonauts and Pentiment, and everything in between.
He believes that the job of Xbox's leadership team is to create a studio system where all these games can coexist and where creative people feel that they're safe and supported, they can be their authentic selves, they can do their best work, and "creativity isn't a possibility but it becomes an inevitability."
All of the games, regardless of their genre and size, contribute to a healthy portfolio, which is why Microsoft wants the group of studio leaders to be a network of peers, without a sense of hierarchy that makes people feel that the ultimate destiny is for everyone to work on Halo.
On top of that, the job of that group of leaders is to "fiercely protect their craft and their artists."
Xbox's studio system depends on a group of "highly empowered creative leaders" like Tim Schafer, Brian Fargo, and Todd Howard, who have to be empowered to do their thing, while the overall Xbox leadership has to make sure that the other stuff doesn't get in the way.
Booty also talked about portfolio management, with the goal of having big games released four times a year and he believes that Xbox is "getting there."
I think with Starfield, and then going into Forza Motorsport, and then as we head into next year 2024 we showed the game Ara [History Untold] and the game Towerborne at Gamescom, we've got Hellblade 2 that comes later... it feels like we're getting there. The tactics of how wemanage that release schedule certainly become front and center.
Speaking of a strategy level, Booty argues that the most important thing is the community that these games have, and speaking of that, he thanked the Halo community.
The Halo community, I want to give a big shoutout, thank you for sticking with us over the year, as we've started to build ourselves back from some challenges that we've had.
Microsoft's strategy that people can play the games they want, with whoever they want, on any device they want, "all begins with these big communities that have formed around those games"
"In many ways, we don't own those games. We're sort of stewards of them, and then it comes with a big responsibility to listen to the communities and really build some of these bigger things in partnership with them.
They have been with the games as long as we are, and they're really such a big factor."
While dates and the release schedule matter, Booty mentions that Microsoft doesn't have a "portfolio bingo" that would lead them to push studios to create a game just because it's missing in the lineup.
They want their studios to make the games that they're passionate about making, and then leadership can support them to turn these games into things that are good business and good for the players. Yet, what the teams are passionate about is the starting point.