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Microsoft: We'll always take on Sony's first-party titles

Spencer happy to compare product with bitter rival as company swings into key retail season

A bullish Microsoft has declared it's happy to go toe-to-toe with rival Sony products, as the two companies prepare for another bloody battle at retail this Christmas.

Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft Games Studios, has declared that first-party publishing has always been about exclusives, and he's confident his titles can better anything his bitter rivals at Sony can turn out.

"Let's start from the beginning of both consoles - PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 - which first party has had more success on their own platform? We have Gears, Halo, Forza, we're continuing to push existing IP while bringing new IP to market. I'll line up against Sony's first party any day," offered Spencer in the first part of an interview published today.

Despite closing internal studios such as Ensemble and FASA, Spencer says the company has spent the neccesary time building franchises, allowing for a yearly roll-out of exclusive, triple-A product every Christmas season.

"Now the news, when you're talking about something like Ensemble, that's us building that franchise pipeline that you've seen come to market for the last three Holidays. I remember last E3, sitting there, people looking at our line-up and saying that they get we had a very strong line-up - Mass Effect and everything that's coming - but what about next Holiday?

"Then I was sitting at this E3 and I go through Too Human, Viva Pinata, Banjo, Fable, Lips, Gears of War, Scene It - that's all before Holiday - and then Halo Wars. And the press are saying exactly the same, that they get it's an incredibly strong Holiday relative to the competition, saying we'll win this year in terms of content...but what about next Holiday?"

He continued: "And I'm confident for next Holiday as well, that we're going to stand up at the next E3, or at the right time, and we'll show a line-up that will continue to win. We talk about our games when we understand what they are. I'm not going to put a billboard up on stage and say, "Boy, I hope you buy this game when it comes out and when I know what it is..."

Spencer believes the press side with Microsoft's line-up of titles, as do the consumers who buy the games, and he's happy to compare review scores or any other metrics against Sony's portfolio.

"We talk about games when we know what they are, when we can guarantee the quality to the customers, and we'll say when they're going to come out - I think the customers want that. But lining us up against Sony first party - I love that comparison. Review score average, exclusive hits to-date, you pick the metric and we can talk about it," he said.

The full interview, where Spencer talks about plans to spin off key franchises following Halo Wars, and more, can be read here.

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