I’m going to start this article by stating that I have no allegiances for one certain console. Over my life, I have owned pretty much every system at some point and have enjoyed games on all of them. The reason I’m telling you this is because we’re going to talk about Xbox’s disappointing Xbox Games Showcase this month and if the Xbox Series X is worth it. Following PlayStation’s console reveal was never going to be easy, but many others, including myself, feel a lack of enthusiasm after watching Xbox’s latest presentation. As for why, let’s get into it.
First, I’d like to talk about everything Xbox did right. Despite my disappointment, there were still a few things that salvaged an otherwise lacklustre showcase. For starters, Xbox Game Pass continues to be an extraordinary service that is going from strength to strength. It’s clear that Xbox sees subscription models as the future of gaming, and I have to agree with them. With everything announced during the showcase to be made available on Xbox Game Pass from launch, there’s no question that Xbox is preparing for the future. The service continues to be an incredible value for money, and will no doubt get even better next generation.
A couple of the games announced did catch my eye, diamonds in the rough as it were. Most people will have been watching to see some Halo: Infinite gameplay and Xbox delivered. Despite the controversy over the game’s visuals, fans saw classic Halo gameplay with a bevy of new gameplay mechanics. Other highlights included games like The Medium, an interesting horror game by Bloober Team, and The Gunk, the latest game from the developers behind the SteamWorld franchise. Xbox did have a few interesting games, but I’m also aware that this is only my opinion and that other games may have been more appealing to other people.
There were a few instances where Xbox was able to grab my attention, but there simply wasn’t enough of them. Comparing this showcase to the PS5 event a couple of weeks ago, the difference is night and day. It’s all well and good for Xbox to show us Game Pass and bide their time, but they need something to turn heads. Unfortunately, everything that could have didn’t.
Even though Xbox announced many high-profile titles, none of them had even vague release dates. In fact, the only new game with a concrete release date was Halo Infinite and Grounded by Obsidian, and even then, that was its Early Access launch date. Everything else had either a vague release date or none at all, alluding that these games are still years away. Rare’s new title Everwild only entered pre-production in late 2019. Compare this to the PS5 showcase, in which most games had release dates of either late 2020 or 2021, and you struggle to see how Xbox are going to have any kind of impact next generation.
There’s also the situation regarding how vague Xbox’s announcements were. Now that we’ve had time to digest the announcements, people are finding inconsistencies. There was confusion over the Fable announcement regarding whether or not the game is a remake or a reboot. Now rumours are circulating that Fable is actually going to be an MMO rather than a standard RPG. If this is the case, then I’m certain that a number of fans, including myself, will be incredibly disappointed.
Then there’s the situation regarding Xbox apparently breaking their promise about next-gen exclusives. Many Xbox higher-ups have been telling us that you won’t need to buy an Xbox Series X for two years and that upcoming next-gen titles will run on an Xbox One. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. A lot of the games announced during the Xbox Games Showcase had title cards that didn’t even mention Xbox One. As a writer at The Verge puts it, either they’ve broken their promise, or we aren’t going to see over half of the games announced for at least another two years. Either way, it’s not a good look for Xbox.
The Near Future Of Xbox
If this showcase represents Xbox’s near future, it definitely looks bleak. When it comes down to it, games sell hardware, and Microsoft is relying on Halo Infinite far too much. I’m a massive Halo fan, but won’t be getting myself an Xbox Series X unless something dramatic happens between now and the console’s launch. Xbox Game Pass is terrific value for money, but if there’s nothing enticing players to pay for it, it’s ultimately pointless. PlayStation has multiple high-profile exclusives coming in the console’s first two years, something which Xbox is lacking.
It’s going to be very interesting to see the sales figures this year. Both consoles are appealing for vastly different reasons, but I believe that the first company to have multiple, top tier games on their system will come out victorious. Xbox’s showcase has done nothing but confirms that the company has very little to offer in terms of new exclusives, and for that reason, I can only see another generation of Sony domination. Microsoft are relying on the strength of Xbox Game Pass and Halo. Hopefully, it works out for them.