As someone who writes for a website called Xbox Enthusiast, it’s safe to say that I’m a fan of the brand. Xbox has been a part of my life since 2004, and I spend hours each day with my Xbox One X. That’s not to say that I don’t like my Nintendo Switch or PlayStation 4 Pro, those consoles are just not my primary choices when it comes to video games. Last year, I wrote a personal article about why I switched over to Xbox, and a few days ago, I talked about why Xbox needs a PlayStation Experience styled event. I care deeply about the brand, but after this year’s The Game Awards, I’m at an impasse. It’s getting tough to defend Microsoft.
Let me start off by saying that I will always love the Xbox. Some of my franchises are on Xbox consoles; Halo, Gears of War, Fable, Forza Motorsport, Jet Set Radio Future, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Conker: Live and Reloaded among others. It will always be my “go-to” brand of consoles, and I look forward to the countless hours of fun I’ll have in the future. There’s a huge problem though. I’m noticing a disconnect between Microsoft and the video game industry.
Microsoft has been doing so many great things over the past few years. These include: Backwards compatibility (Xbox 360 and original Xbox games), Xbox One X, Mixer, Microsoft’s fantastic streaming service, Cross-play between Xbox One and PC, Xbox Play Anywhere, and Xbox One X enhanced patches. There has been a shortage of exclusives, but all the new features and improvements have made the Xbox experience a more fluid one.
Unfortunately, Cuphead and Forza Motorsport 7 could not save the terrible year of games for the Xbox brand as a whole. 2018 is shaping up to be a solid year in the exclusives department. Next year will see the release of Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, and Sea of Thieves, which was just announced to be launching on March 20th. While all of these games are exciting, we knew about each of these for about two years already. Xbox fans need to know what’s going to release in the future. I often criticize Sony for announcing games too early, but I think that this may be the right way for Microsoft to go when it comes to Xbox.
Sony has God of War, Spider-Man, Detroit: Become Human, Ghosts of Tsushima, The Last of Us: Part 2, Ni No Kuni 2, Dreams, and Shadow of the Colossus all supposedly launching within the next two years. There’s also Death Stranding, which while a way off, still shows promise for Sony’s console. Nintendo is also in the same boat as Sony. We know that Yoshi and Kirby are launching next year, but we also have Bayonetta 3, Metroid Prime 4, and Pokemon will all launch sometime in the future. Without giving dates, Nintendo and Sony have teased its fans with some exciting video games.
Microsoft, on the other hand, fails to hype up its audience more often than not. The Game Awards were full of reveals, trailers, and awesome moments. I sat in my room, intrigued by more Dreams information and I yelled in excitement as Nintendo not only revealed Bayonetta 3 but also announced that the latest The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC would be launching that same night. These are announcements that keep fans happy.
One noticeably absent company at The Game Awards was Microsoft. This was the perfect time to unveil the latest video game. As I mentioned before, the Sea of Thieves release date was announced at the show, but it was during a “commercial break.” None of the developers went on stage to talk about the game and showcase Sea of Thieves. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, one of the biggest games in the industry right now will be launching on Xbox One in just a few days. During the trailer that debuted during the show, it said that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds would be coming ONLY to Xbox (on consoles of course) and NO ONE talked about that. This reveal would have been something great to say on stage, but again, Microsoft missed the opportunity for a mic drop moment involving an exclusive.
I kept waiting throughout the three-hour show for Geoff Keighley to call Phil Spencer, Larry Hyrb, or Aaron Greenberg to come on stage. A few of them were at the show, so this wasn’t impossible. But again, none of that happened. The show ended with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild winning the coveted (and well deserved) Game of the Year award, but I immediately closed the YouTube app in frustration. Microsoft could’ve capitalized on a large audience watching the show to “wow” them with something huge. I watched on YouTube (on my TV), and Mixer (on my PC) and the chat on the Mixer platform was livid that Microsoft didn’t reveal anything. I can’t blame them. Most people on Mixer are probably Xbox One owners who really want the brand they like to succeed.
The best thing to happen to the Xbox brand over the past few years is Phil Spencer. As the Head of Xbox, he has done fantastic things for the company. Phil has a plan for the future of the brand, and that doesn’t include announcing games too early. Talking to Eurogamer in June, Spencer discussed why Microsoft hadn’t revealed too many games recently.
We’ve signed some things we haven’t announced. I’m not gonna go stand on-stage – I’ve lived through announcing things too early and then had to live up to the hype while you’re trying to go build the game, and I’m learning. I’m not a big fan of that. So I want to give teams the time.
But when I think about our first-party, I want to announce things when I know they’re going to launch, when I’ve got real sightlines into what they’re going to be able to deliver for our customers. That’s when you’re going to hear about games from us.
We’ve seen games get announced too early, only to be delayed, or canceled entirely. Crackdown 3 was announced a few years ago and has received a few delays. Fable Legends and Scalebound were anticipated but eventually canceled. I certainly see the risk in announcing games too early, but fans of the platform need to have a reason to be happy about their purchase. The Game Awards was the perfect time for Microsoft to take the stage and announce a new IP, exclusivity deal, or a new installment in a popular franchise.
Unfortunately, I’m left upset. I’ve been a champion for Microsoft for over a decade. In conversation with friends and family, I’ve explained why I love Xbox and how it’s my favorite place to play. But you know what, it’s tough to keep doing that when there are too many missed opportunities. The Internet is a tough place for Microsoft, and I’m not sure I can always defend the company anymore. There are a few games next year, but what’s after that? I’m not sure, but the Xbox team does. They need to be more transparent with the fans and reassure the community that there is something amazing. coming in the future.