Microsoft is riding on a wave of goodwill and momentum- here’s how they can continue down that path.
E3 is almost here- we are three weeks away from the beginning of a few days full of announcements, reveals, and gameplay footage demonstrations, and knowing what is incoming for our favorite systems, developers, and franchises. It’s a wonderful time to be a gamer, is what I am saying- no matter what kinds of games you like, and what kinds of systems you play on.
With E3 coming up in short order, then, we figured we would look at each of the Big Three alike and attempt to assess their E3 strategies, and what they need to do and what the results of that might be. Microsoft is the hardest to look at in this regard- purely because while Sony and Nintendo have both shown their hands (Sony is focusing on a handful of first party games primarily, while Nintendo will only show games coming out this year), Microsoft is a bigger question mark. We know they have rented an entire theater as their “showfloor space”, and that they are calling this their biggest E3 ever.
We also know that after successfully rallying on the services and hardware front, Microsoft now needs to make a strong showing and come out swinging with the games. The good news is that they have the momentum and a wave of goodwill they are riding going into E3 this year- as long as they hit the right notes, they will capitalize on that effectively, and continue to ride high in the coming months.
NEW IP ANNOUNCEMENTS
We already know that investing in new IP is something Microsoft is looking at seriously on the first party front. While the company has partnered with studios like Insomniac and Armature to deliver some new IP in the last few years, such as Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break, ReCore, and Ryse: Son of Rome, Microsoft’s own internal in house efforts have continued to focus on Halo, Gears of War, and Forza primarily. Having tentpole franchises to rely on is always great- but Microsoft needs to broaden the palette of its offerings, so that it offers more to its fans than just what they are used to. Thankfully, as mentioned, they are looking into open new studios and investing in new franchises- so hopefully, we get to see some early indications of what kinds of new experiences they are working on delivering at E3 this year.
"While the company has partnered with studios like Insomniac and Armature to deliver some new IP in the last few years, such as Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break, ReCore, and Ryse: Son of Rome, Microsoft’s own internal in house efforts have continued to focus on Halo, Gears of War, and Forza primarily. Having tentpole franchises to rely on is always great- but Microsoft needs to broaden the palette of its offerings, so that it offers more to its fans than just what they are used to."
BUT ALSO NEW HALO/GEARS/FORZA ANNOUNCEMENTS
I am never going to ask Microsoft to outright abandon Halo, Gears of War, and Forza, however- those are Microsoft’s flagship franchises that have won them millions of fans, and they are popular for a reason. That reason being that they are pretty damn great. And they are all due for new entries soon now. We already know a Forza Horizon 4 is due out this year, and I am sure that it will get a reveal at E3, but Microsoft could also stand to show us teasers for Halo 6 and Gears of War 5– I say teasers because I am aware that they have already said that neither game is coming out soon, and that’s okay. But it’s been years since the last games in either franchise came out, and just showing fans an exciting sneak peak at what lies in the future of both those series is going to get a lot of people excited, I think.
THAT NEW FABLE GAME
Okay, so this is something that has apparently been rumored for a while. Microsoft, wanting a piece of the pie that so far has been hogged by Nintendo and Sony with The Legend of Zelda and Horizon respectively, want in on the action with their own open world action adventure game. And apparently, they are repurposing the beloved Fable franchise to that end- having handed it over to none other than PlayGround Games for this go around. This all sounds absolutely awesome- I just hope we get to see a little sneak peak of it. Again, I understand we’re a ways away from this game coming out- but, again, a little teaser is going to get fans all energized and excited- Xbox could use its fans being energized and positive about the brand right now.
REMOVE THAT PAYWALL FOR F2P GAMES
Microsoft has done an amazing job of making several pro-customer moves in the last few months and years- from backwards compatibility to expanding the scope of Games with Gold, to offering refunds and gifting, to their efforts focused on accessibility, to cross platform play, and cross platform purchases, and beyond, the company hardly resembles the corporation that drive to force an always online system with restrictive DRM and an always on camera on to customers five years ago. But one relic from the era of a less consumer friendly Microsoft still remains- Microsoft locking online play for free to play games behind a paywall. Where on PSN, you can play, say, Fortnite even without PS Plus, on Xbox, you need to have a subscription to Xbox Live, or you can’t play. It’s a bit bizarre- what’s the point of a free to play game if you have to, well, pay for it? Microsoft has done an excellent job of making Xbox Live attractive by addition, rather than by gating essential features behind it- this paywall for F2P games is one of the last relics from when they did not do that. Hopefully, this is one of the things they announce they are reversing at E3 this year.
"Where on PSN, you can play, say, Fortnite even without PS Plus, on Xbox, you need to have a subscription to Xbox Live, or you can’t play. It’s a bit bizarre- what’s the point of a free to play game if you have to, well, pay for it?"
CONTINUE THE AWESOME FOCUS ON SERVICES
I am one of the people who argues that the focus for a game console and game company should always be on games first- and, indeed, I have spent most of this article talking about games Microsoft could show off. But one thing that I think they deserve mad credit on is their sheer good work on the services front. From backwards compatibility, digital continuity, cross platform play, cross platform purchases via Play Anywhere, refunds, gifting, and more, Microsoft has done some amazing work here- and I don’t want them to stop. I want them to keep continuing doing this good work. Keep bringing more backward compatible games. Expand the scope of Play Anywhere. Make gifting and refunds easier. Bring more features and services that we don’t even realize we want to us. Microsoft is doing some great work here, work that will pay off for them in the coming years- I just hope they keep at it.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to GamingBolt as an organization.