But is it too late?
Anyone who has followed my pieces on this website over the last few years knows that I haven’t exactly been the most impressed with Microsoft and Xbox this generation. While their commitment to responding to user feedback is great, and I love the strides they have made on the services front, they have failed on the all important front of having appealing games. With multiplatform games being playable by just about every other system on the market, the reason to invest in one over the other is compelling exclusives- an area the Xbox One has sorely lacked in, with its first party situation becoming worse thanks to disappointing releases, studio closures, and game cancellations.
The end result of all of this has been that as the PS4 and the Nintendo Switch have dominated the conversation thanks to a spate of excellent exclusives, the Xbox One has felt like a non entity in the market- less than an also-ran. It hasn’t helped that while Xbox boss Phil Spencer has talked about the necessity of investing in compelling games for Xbox a multitude of times, nothing has ever actually come of it.
However, it seems like, finally, Microsoft may be beginning to come around to the importance of having a varied slate of compelling exclusives on its console to attract buyers to it. While this year will finally see the release of games such as Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, and State of Decay 2– which were announced at least four years ago, and have all suffered multiple delays- it’s going forward from there that I actually see some hope for Microsoft and Xbox’s first party lineup.
"The first news that indicated to me that Microsoft may be looking at moving away from the cycle of Halo/Gears/Forza was when news broke out that Playground Games, the folks who bring us the excellent Forza Horizon series (the last one of which was actually one of the most successful games Microsoft has had this generation) are working on a new Fable game."
The first news that indicated to me that Microsoft may be looking at moving away from the cycle of Halo/Gears/Forza was when news broke out that Playground Games, the folks who bring us the excellent Forza Horizon series (the last one of which was actually one of the most successful games Microsoft has had this generation) are working on a new Fable game. Now, we have known that the studio is working on a new AAA open world RPG for quite a while now- but we didn’t realize it’s Fable. That indicates that Microsoft is finally looking to have more types of games on it system than just service style games, games that may attract multiple different kinds of players into the Xbox ecosystem. And Playground Games are an excellent choice to go with for this new game- while I always loved Fable, it is hard to deny that it never ended up meeting its full potential.
But the most important news that came this week regarding Microsoft’s first party efforts was the news that Matt Booty, who has previously headed up Minecraft for Microsoft, will now be the head of Microsoft’ first party efforts. With Booty now in charge, there is some hope that Microsoft’s first party situation will change. Certainly, his appointment was accompanied by the usual chatter from Microsoft that they now need to “invest in more content”- but given that this time it was actually backed by what seemed to be meaningful action, I’m more ready to give them the benefit of the doubt here.
That benefit of the doubt also extends to Spencer’s latest comment this week. He once again talked about the importance of investing in first party games, claiming that he is not “blind to the memes” regarding Microsoft’s paltry exclusives situation. Now, again, usually, this would have been something I would have rolled my eyes at and dismissed- this is the kind of thing Spencer has said so many times, with no perceptible result to show for it, that it is hard to take him seriously when he says something like it anymore. But again, given that this time, his words were also backed by what seemed to be actual action towards this effect, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"For once, it seems like Microsoft is making the effort to address its first party situation."
And that’s really what it all comes down to- for once, it seems like Microsoft is making the effort to address its first party situation. I want to say that it’s astonishing to me that it took them this long to get the wake up call- I presume Sony and Nintendo’s success last year was a large factor in them deciding to jump into investing in their own content (and indeed, the Fable 4 rumors directly cite Horizon‘s success as a reason for Microsoft going through with the project). Xbox One has suffered, and the brand as a whole failed to retain a large unified global fanbase, due to this shortage of content. While it is not too late to address these problems – it is never too late – that Microsoft is looking at fixing these problems now means that it will be years before we see the results. It will be years before we see new exclusives borne out of these efforts, given how long games take to develop, meaning it will be years before the exclusives problem is fixed.
At least there is the hope that in the end the problem is fixed (there’s no guarantee)- but we’ve seen the first steps that indicate that Microsoft at last understands the importance of having compelling exclusive content on their system.
It took them long enough.
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.