Since the launch of the Xbox One X last year, there’s been chatter that the Xbox platform is dying.
A lack of exclusive games has been the main charge as Sony leads that field. Recently, news reports showed Sony doubling Microsoft’s console sales with 75 million PlayStation 4s sold compared to 30 million Xbox Ones. This only served to add fuel the notion that the Xbox One was doomed.
It’s true that in the past few years, the Xbox One has suffered from a lacklustre line up of exclusives even losing some like the cancelled the highly anticipated Scalebound. Meanwhile, Sony has gone from strength to strength with the likes of Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nier: Automata, Persona 5 and most recently, God of War.
Microsoft E3 2018
As an owner of only an Xbox, I can relate to the fears and concerns of gamers worldwide. It hasn’t helped that of the exclusives Microsoft promised us last E3, neither Sea of Thieves or State of Decay 2 have reached the heights we’d hoped. Crackdown 3 has meanwhile become the butt end of the community for its never ending delays.
In spite of this, the Xbox One X has proven itself over and over as the best place to play multi-platform titles. It’s undoubtedly the most powerful home console, delivering crisp true 4k HDR at 30FPS.
At its annual E3 briefing at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, Microsoft did what everyone was hoping for and then some. Announcing over 50 games, 18 exclusives and five new studios joining the Microsoft Studios family, I’d say it straight up cracked down on all the naysayers in one fell swoop. A few of the notable titles announced include Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 4 and Gears 5.
You don’t need to look further than this list to see that Xbox certainly won’t be lacking for some incredible games to play in the near future with many of these releasing between October 2018 and February 2019.
Investing in exclusives
But the bigger news was all the supporting actions Microsoft is taking to ensure that Xbox is the best place to play. First off, every exclusive is coming to Game Pass on launch day as promised. That means for as little as $10 a month, gamers will be getting thousands of dollars worth of incredible games.
The new and improved FastStart will allow us to start playing games much faster without waiting for the whole game to download. Considering all these new titles and many existing ones are now Xbox One Enhanced, that’s a huge win given the huge download sizes of the games. Delicious.
The second huge announcement was the new studios that Microsoft has acquired. And no, they didn’t buy EA but we’ve long believed it would be faster and cheaper if Microsoft bought some IP’s and that’s what they’ve done.
- The Initiative is a whole new studio based in Santa Monica under Microsoft Studios and headed by gaming veteran, ex-Crystal Dynamics Darrell Gallagher.
- Playground Games the makers of the critically acclaimed Forza Motorsport and Horizon series
- Ninja Theory of Heavenly Sword and more recently, the award-winning Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice fame.
- Undead Labs who recently released the long-awaited State of Decay 2 that has seen over 2 million players join in the first month of release.
- Compulsion Games who is about to release We Happy Few.
Welcome to the Family
These join a star studded lineup that consists of 343 Studios, Rare and the Coalition. Having more studios in-house with full access to Microsoft’s budgets, connections and research means bigger, better game worlds for us the players. This is a welcome move by Microsoft which will vastly improve its internal capability to deliver AAA exclusives that rival Sony’s best.
And let’s not forget the thriving ID@Xbox which champions the smaller, independent studios like Studio MDHR who gave us the runaway hit Cuphead. Microsoft’s highlight reel featured over 25 incredible games and you can see how the Xbox holds it’s own as a wholesome and complete gaming package.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Xbox isn’t dead or dying. I see it as having a renaissance of sorts. Microsoft’s E3 briefing was the perfect showcase that gave us fresh new and exciting games. The purchase of great new studios proved that Microsoft listens to its gamers and is committed to making the Xbox the best place to play. Improving Game Pass library and playability thanks to Fast Start was really just the cherry on top.
The future is once again looking very bright for Microsoft. I’ll admit, I had my doubt but Phil Spencer and team put a lot of that to rest with their successful conference.