“I think that the key to developing these IPs into something really special and something really monumental is sticking with them.”
Microsoft has never had the strongest first party around, but it used to be far better back in the day than it is now. In addition to Halo, Forza, and Gears of War, Microsoft used to have franchises like Fable, Banjo Kazooie, Viva Pinata, Perfect Dark, Kameo, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Project Gotham Racing, and Crimson Skies, apart from also funding games such as Mass Effect.
None of that holds true anymore. Now, Microsoft barely releases a few games a year, and most of them are predictable franchise entries. When Game Informer spoke to Shannon Loftis, the general manager of Microsoft’s Global Games Publishing, they asked her if she thinks Microsoft has managed to inculcate a new IP in the vein of Halo and Gears this generation. According to Loftis, Microsoft has brought several new IPs to the table, but IPs themselves seem to be developing differently in the market this generation than they did last generation.
“In the previous generations, you had these massive blockbuster hits that a lot of the time were kind of telegraphed up front by the budget that was spent on them, and people would wait out in line to get the game and everything,” Loftis said. “But there’s just an incredible amount of content right now that moves through every single gaming ecosystem – whether it’s Steam, PlayStation, Apple – and it’s harder and harder for gamers to know where the quality is going to come from. So some of the biggest hits of today actually started really small. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a great example of a game that didn’t launch with a massive marketing campaign or anything like that.
“And we have a few IPs that my team brought to the table over the last [generation] – I think Quantum Break is a really good example of a world and a phenomenon where there’s still a lot of story that we can tell. Announcing ReCore: Definitive Edition was a little bit of a signal to people that got into the world of Far Eden and fell in love with these characters that we believe that that’s an IP with a lot of legs. I think that the key to developing these IPs into something really special and something really monumental is sticking with them.”
I… don’t agree with her on any of what she said, to be honest. Yes, there are big new IPs launching this generation, but that should be all the more reason for Microsoft to be able to launch their new IP this generation, too- Sony, Nintendo, and Blizzard, for example, have each launched new IP this generation. Microsoft has thus far been unable to bring anything to the table on the level of, if not Overwatch, then at least Splatoon or even Bloodborne.
I am glad that games like ReCore get funded- there is a place on the market for them, and I laud Loftis on her implication that Microsoft will continue to develop these franchises further. But I truly, truly hope that Microsoft does not feel that that is the best that they can do. It would be very sad if they did.