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Don’t worry! This is not another article depicting every flaw in the Xbox business model, nor is it in any way an attempt to devalue the largely positive effect of Phil Spencer since taking the helm at Microsoft’s Gaming Division. Its more of what I believe Microsoft should be doing at this years annual gaming extravaganza, and what they should really steer clear of. The overall response to last years presentations from both the Xbox and Sony camps was mainly that of disappointment, as the pre-show hype diminished and didn’t quite deliver on the main stage. What Xbox needs is a show stopper, a reason to get hyped a veritable mic dropper. After all that’s what E3 should always be about.
Long gone are the days of Peter Moore rolling up his sleeve, dropping bombs on the biggest upcoming games thanks to crudely drawn tattoos. Ok so it was a bit cheesy, but so what! It got people hyped. After the immense expectation pre-show from last years E3, with everyone’s eyes glued waiting for the Xbox One X official reveal, price point and specs it got the blood coursing but what followed didn’t keep the adrenaline flowing. It kind of all went a little flat. I sat waiting for Phil to say….”oh just on more thing”…and then finish on an absolute killer announcement. But he didn’t. It just ended and I sat there looking at my screen thinking what could have been.
So what do they need to do different? Well lets start with the things they shouldn’t be doing.
Lets be honest here. The last few Xbox E3 events have had far too much focus on what hardware was coming. Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Elite Controller, Custom Controllers, controller design lab etc etc. I mean it’s all very nice and all but for me E3 needs to be about the games. Use a separate media event for Hardware especially for the controllers and stuff. We don’t need another 40 mins on how we can make a controller a pretty colour or how many teraflops are coming in a mid generational upgrade. I love my Xbox One X….but I am more interested in what I can play on it. Microsoft’s hand has been forced somewhat to part the sea of negativity from the release of the original Xbox One, and the media frenzy that followed focusing on the fact that it was slightly inferior performance wise to the PlayStation. You did good Phil, you delivered a machine we wanted so lets talk about the games this year! Lets not talk about hardware.
One of Microsofts main criticisms this generation has been a lack of exclusives. Whilst I find many of the Xbox first party library to my preference, I understand why many call Microsofts flagship gaming console a ‘Halo Box’. So obviously when you get a fair few new IPs and next chapters of fan favourites (Fable) announced, which take major chunks of Xbox E3 presentations only to be cancelled before release, it does rather test the game;rs patience threshold. Scaleboud and Fable Legends are definitely the most notable titles in recent times. Both games had sizeable on stage demos at E3, we even got as far as a beta for Fable, only to be told that the games were being canned to become things of myth rather than a household name. Don;t promise us games with one hand and take them away with another.
Now how about a couple of things they need to bring to the party?
Think outside the box
Another major criticism of Xbox in recent years is their reliance on proven exclusives. A common formula of Halo, Gears, Forza rinse and repeat is a prominent thought in the gaming community! It could be stated that this is rather an unfair popular opinion as there has been quite some time between the Halo games and Gears, and the only reason we see so many Forza games is because it alternates every year between the Forza Motorsport and Horizon franchises. A great example of a break would be Assassins Creed Origins. Ubisoft churned out Creed games every year, until Unity was the straw that broke the camels back. Gamers just were not invested anymore, and the break in games from Syndicate has allowed them to come back with one of the best games in the series. Xbox has some great first party titles and I really want to see more, just maybe not as often.
It’s about time Xbox started to dig a little deeper in those massive bank accounts to really kick on and start a new age of investment in first party development. I mean one thing the world knows is Microsoft isn’t short of a bob or two. Now Phil has the hardware, he simply must put all his eggs in the first party development basket. And let’s not just hope for remasters and the bringing back of outdated franchises, let’s go to town and create whole new IPs and experiences. After all that is what gamer’s and developers alike would love to see. Take a chance and believe in the product! It has certainly worked for Sony with games such as Nioh and Horizon. Bring us news of great developers in-house and games coming exclusively to Xbox.
Shock and Awe
Lets have a mic drop moment. Lets have a montage of game after game for the majority of the conference. Lets have a mixture of first and third-party exclusives heavily weighted towards in-house development. New IPs, exciting, adrenaline fuelled hype trains from start to finish. I don’t want Xbox to miss a beat. Let Phil come out and literally melt our faces with games that simply must take our money from our wallets. I want system sellers, I want them to stop playing it safe, I want what every Xbox gamer wants and that is for them to put on a show that makes me drool at the prospect of what we could have in store for the future. GAMES, GAMES, GAMES. And one thing I really want is Phil to stand on the stage at the end of the show and say……Alan Wake…..Mic drops.