Xbox have recently hosted their XO19 event where they announced new games for Xbox Game Pass, revealed concept trailers and let thousands of Xbox fans get hands-on with upcoming games that will likely be the last on this generation. That is assuming they won’t feature on the next, at least. Whilst I’m extremely glad that Xbox has taken the step of hosting their own annual event celebrating the world of Xbox, mirroring the steps of their rival and the PlayStation Experience, I don’t think that they have taken the right step in their approach to the new generation. Those step being that of announcing new games that will be coming, at least, for the first half of the next generation in the best way. To evaluate Xbox’s situation, let us for a moment take a look at their nemesis, PlayStation.
PlayStation has clearly taken a look at their portfolio of studios, such as Guerrilla Studios, SuckerPunch, Sony Bend, Naughty Dog and more. Furthermore, they’ve looked at the last exclusives they’re planning to launch and have recently released for this generation: Death Stranding, The Last of Us: Part II, Ghosts of Tsushima and Spider-Man. Now, knowing what titles they have released, what they’re going to release and what titles are in the works, PlayStation has made the very smart move of staying silent for the last year or so. Not having recently hosted their Playstation Experience event, and not having any presence at E3 2019 means that: firstly, they’re keeping all of the good stuff to when it’s ready to debut with a bang, and when they can show off a lot of the games all at once. Like E3 2016 and E3 2017.
Secondly, it means that they can control their announcements using their new update videos: ‘State of Play’. These are exactly like Nintendo Directs but of course PlayStation focused. Short and sweet videos with updates and announcements for all things PlayStation. Now, while E3 isn’t as exciting with PlayStation out of the equation, it does demonstrate my point of why Xbox is failing at providing an exciting line-up of announcements for what’s to come. Unlike PlayStation, Xbox had a presence at E3 2019, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this article they also hosted their annual XO event just a couple of months ago. Both of these presentations were extremely underwhelming. It felt – with the wise words of my good friend Bilbo to assist me here – “like butter scraped over too much bread”.
Watching these showcases are good, especially as an Xbox fan. But I don’t want these showcases to be good – I want them to be fantastic. I want Xbox to come out swinging with ten or so games which are going to blow gamers away. Instead, we’re getting the trickle of a fountain; consistent and respectful, but nothing to drop your jaw to. While I appreciate that there may be an instinctual feeling here for Xbox to need to show as many games as possible because of their lack of first-party exclusives which have unsuccessfully blown people away, I don’t think this is a good step to getting Xbox gamers excited for the next generation.
I don’t want to see a concept trailer for Rare’s next game which leaves everybody guessing what the game is for years until the great underwhelming reveal in 2021. I want them to show that game, but as one of many incredibly exciting new games coming to Xbox Series X. If Xbox also opted out of the latest E3 and decided against XO19, I think that we would get an E3 this year, or even the year after, which would blow every other console manufacturer or publisher out of the water.
Instead what will seemingly happen is Xbox will maintain its solid fanbase with a trickle of exciting news and announcements – most of those relating to the titles arriving to Xbox Game Pass at launch. And while Xbox maintains this trajectory, PlayStation will be in the background; scheming, plotting, but most notably working as hard as possible to show off their next line-up of incredible games.
Xbox will show some thrilling launch games for Xbox Series X throughout 2020 and I do believe that the next generation’s launch line-up will be the best we’ve ever seen for the start of a generation. But PlayStation will do what they’ve done for many years now – show many not good, not great but phenomenal games at once which will convince gamers to buy a PlayStation. Simple and effective. There could be the possibility that Xbox is aware of all of this. It could be that they have so much in the works that they needed to make these announcements last year when they did. I just don’t think that this is true.
I worry for the future of Xbox because they can’t gain momentum when they trickle out announcements, when they could’ve instead been dropping fantastic games at XO20 or XO21. A lot of people aren’t paying attention to these announcements because they’re busy playing Jedi: Fallen Order or The Outer Worlds anyway. Xbox, please make some incredible showcases, but show them at the right time. I believe you can convince gamers, but you have to believe that they have the patience in order to do so.