Microsoft is facing a lot of trouble now that their biggest exclusive of the Fall game release schedule, Crackdown 3, has been delayed into 2018. This leaves the Xbox One X to launch all alone on November 7th, with only Cuphead and Forza Motorsport 7 to accompany it, as they both release a few days earlier.
What reason is there to buy an Xbox One X if Microsoft barely has any new games to play on it at launch? In fact, Microsoft’s entire first-party lineup is nearly non-existent when you look at the industry as a whole. The majority of their games are also available on Windows PC, so they’re technically not Xbox exclusive. Microsoft has given the gaming industry no reason to buy or even pay attention to their console.
I have always been all about Xbox ever since I started taking gaming and its industry seriously. Through the many years of competition with PlayStation, I’ll admit Xbox has been the underdog in certain areas. Though PlayStation has been considered superior by most of the industry and players, I feel like Xbox was able to hold its own during this generation since 2013 – releasing some titles from their promising, most powerful franchises (Halo and Gears of War) has served them well for the first few years.
To be honest, I was never really thrilled for Crackdown 3. Microsoft did very little at E3 to try to get people excited for the game. Frankly, Crackdown 3 is not on the level of Halo and Gears of War as far as big names goes. I know video games are not just about names, but they’re very important in the sense of getting people to buy the game and causing ripples in the industry – which is very important since the industry has become very competitive between the leading companies. Crackdown 3, Forza Motorsport 7 and Sea of Thieves are the three games Microsoft is banking on right now and it’s just not enough compared to the incredible lineup of PlayStation exclusives. As someone who is faithful to Xbox, this is concerning to me.
Though Sea of Thieves and Forza 7 look good, they’re not sufficient enough to sustain Xbox fans who rely on exclusives. With this, Microsoft is lucky with the abundance of third party games coming in the Fall since Forza is their only big name game – coming on October 3rd.
Now, we have three games from Microsoft coming in 2018 (at least in the first two quarters). They are Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 – Crackdown being the biggest of the three. None of these three games have solid release dates, they are scheduled for Q1/ Q2 of 2018. The problem with this is that there are two third-party juggernauts scheduled for that time frame as well, which put Microsoft’s three titles in jeopardy of low sales and little attention. Far Cry 5 comes out on February 27th and the boogeyman. Red Dead Redemption 2, wants to come out somewhere in the first half of the year as well.
Nobody – whether it be Sony, Nintendo or any other third party company – wants to put out a game anywhere near Red Dead Redemption 2 if they want their game to sell copies. This may be why Microsoft is holding out on release dates for their “big three”. Once Rockstar announces a release date for Red Dead Redemption 2, Microsoft may announce their’s shortly after. If those dates are near the cowboy western blockbuster, Microsoft will be in big trouble sales-wise for their only “big” exclusives of the first half of 2018. Those games will be eaten alive if they aren’t at least a month separated from Rockstar’s goliath.
Now we come to the long term. What can Microsoft pull out of their hat that is new and exciting and that will boost them up to PlayStation’s level of exclusives?
Lately, Insomniac Games have been on Sony’s side as they’re the team behind Spider-Man, the PS4 exclusive game set for 2018. Remember, they also developed one of my favorite games, Sunset Overdrive, which released in Fall of 2014. To my disagreement, the game received negative reviews and did not sell well. Despite this, Insomniac is reportedly willing to make a sequel. However, I doubt that Microsoft would be interested in publishing it due to the failure of the the first game to sell a sufficient amount of copies.
I think that if another Sunset Overdrive does come to fruition, Microsoft should absolutely publish the project. I think Insomniac would improve their formula for the game. On top of that, the studio is wider known now that they’ve been working on Spider-Man. Because of this, they could have a large boost in sales if they wind up making another Overdrive – especially if Spider-Man is a huge success.
I know it sounds scummy, but Microsoft could use Insomniac (Sunset Overdrive sequel) to piggyback off Sony’s potential success with Spider-Man. Hey, if Insomniac wants to do it, there’s no harm done – just a smart business move on Microsoft’s part…and I would love another Overdrive, but that’s beside the point.
This is not the only move Microsoft needs to make to get their future exclusive lineup back off the ground. They need more games which are truly Xbox exclusives. The Play Anywhere program is a huge mistake. I get where they’re coming from if they were the only gaming company in the industry. Unfortunately, in this climate the program is destroying Xbox sales and will continue to do so if they don’t scrap it. They’re being too nice, giving gamers the option to go to PC to play games. They can’t afford to do this anymore. Their PC player base will always be there and they’ll always buy games. Microsoft needs to focus solely on their console which is slowly, but surely starting to slip away.
Timed exclusives don’t help either. Nobody minds that they’ll need to wait six months for a game to come to their platform. Sure, gamers complain when a game gets delayed – but a timed exclusive will not make them go out and buy a whole other console. I don’t care if Xbox has 4K resolution, those black boxes need their own games – and a lot of them – right now.
If you look at PlayStation’s exclusives, most of them are greatly narrative driven – almost movie-like. Microsoft needs to seek out studios who are known for great storytelling like Dontnod and Telltale Games. If Microsoft can somehow strike up exclusive deals with these studios – along with Insomniac – they will be well on their way to begin catching up to Sony.
Microsoft needs to cut Play Anywhere and stop fooling around with timed exclusives. They need to propose exclusive deals with well known, narratively talented studios. They need to get back together with Insomniac. They need to make more partnerships with a whole bunch of studios who are willing to make large scale AAA exclusive titles that will hopefully catch on to become the ‘next’ Halo or Gears. The bottom line is Microsoft needs to do a lot of things to keep their Xbox console relevant in the industry climate and stop shooting themselves in the foot. PlayStation is at the top looking down and, as a hardcore Xbox fanatic, I’d like it to be the other way around for once and 4K alone will not cut it.
What are your opinions on Microsoft’s Xbox One lineup? Let us know in the comments below!