Microsoft is very cautious about making TV shows and movies based on Xbox games

Master Chief in Halo Infinite
(Image credit: 343 Industries)

There haven’t been many film and TV adaptations of Xbox franchises historically, except for the few straight-to-DVD Halo adaptations that have been released here and there. And even though a big-budget Halo TV show is set to debut on Paramount Plus in the US next year, it's clear that film and TV isn’t currently a focus for Xbox.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer, speaking to The Wrap with Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick, said that it all comes down to economics. The business opportunity for interactive entertainment like games has better potential to make money than films or TV shows based on Microsoft’s IPs.

Game-based movies and TV shows are more for marketing and publicity purposes, rather than being a profit-driver on their own, feels Spencer. Strauss Zelnick did express similar sentiments, which does explain why Take-Two has shot down all offers to make GTA movies over the years.

Spencer went on to say that the market value in gaming IPs is very high, so when Microsoft looks at doing something with films and TV shows, it's “very, very cautious.”

Spencer instead underlined the value of interactivity in games, where players can decide how they want to guide and shape their experience. Film and TV, which Spencer described as passive entertainment, do not offer the same potential revenue as the games themselves do.

Spencer went on to say that games make so much money for Xbox that it doesn’t want to risk a poor-performing film or TV show, since that could negatively affect the perception of a given franchise.

Spencer went on to warn that when Microsoft does make a film or TV show, the creative execution must be top-notch or it may lead to the downfall of the series in question.

Analysis: Have previously released Xbox TV shows held up well?

Movies and TV shows Xbox has released have had their moments, but they haven’t been anything to write home about. Halo's online miniseries, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn received overall good reviews, and above-average IMDB user reviews with a 6.9/10 score. The anime Halo Legends received overall positive reviews too – though some found mixing anime and the Halo franchise weird, critics were generally impressed. Though these movies and TV shows were solid enough, they do remain largely forgettable among Halo fans, and arguably haven't attracted non-fans to the series.

The next big test for Microsoft in this space will be that Halo TV show for Paramount Plus. Spencer is definitely following his statements by having a top-notch creative like Steven Spielberg helping to executive produce the series - hopefully this means Microsoft has a hit on its hands. Still, given its years spent in development hell, we'll have to reserve judgment until it gets here.

Jamel Smith

Jamel authors his own blog delving into politics, Black culture, and other important issues. He also dabbles into the realm of TikTok. He is currently suffering from fatigue due to playing Demon Souls.