Microsoft doesn’t need Master Chief to finish the fight this time.
During the last several years, Microsoft have been over dependent on the Halo, Forza and Gears of War franchises. This kind of dependence started during the last few years of the Xbox 360 where most of these new entries felt quite fresh and innovative but then this continued well into the Xbox One era as well with remasters such as Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Gears of War Ultimate Edition and new entries such as Halo 5: Guardians and Gears of War 4.
Unfortunately, all of them were kind of disappointing at launch. The Halo series, especially, lost a bit of goodwill due to poor showings during the respectives launches of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Halo 5: Guardians. Gears of War Ultimate Edition was a fantastic remake of the original on the Xbox One, however the PC version was marred with several issues and Gears of War 4 felt more of the same. In short, except the Forza franchise (which continues to deliver over and over every year), both Halo and Gears of War have been going slightly downhill.
So when 343 Industries announced that there will be no Halo 6 at Microsoft’s E3 conference this year, I was pleasantly surprised. However, 343 Industries announcement undoubtedly also caused some disappointment among series fans- but it does beg the question, if, in the year that Microsoft is hoping to launch Xbox One Scorpio, a brand new console, and one that it is undoubtedly hoping will help turn Xbox’s fortunes around again, Microsoft won’t have a new Halo game to showcase- just what could that mean?
I think this actually bodes well for what Microsoft may have up its sleeve for E3 this year. Halo may have diminished a bit in the last few years, but it remains Microsoft’s strongest first party brand (unless you count Minecraft, but that’s on everything). If, in the year that they are debuting a new console, Microsoft feels confident enough to not have a new Halo game on hand, that could actually mean that they have enough big games lined up that they don’t feel the need for Halo to pick up the slack.
What could this mean? This could mean Microsoft has enough games that it feels like it has a strong enough showing even in the absence of Halo. Now, this showing could just be a slate of third party multiplatform games, that will just run better on Xbox Scorpio- but at the same time, Microsoft has to bring some of its own games to the show as well. Even if there are only a handful of them, Halo not being one of them means Microsoft is relying on new, potentially big name experiences to make the Scorpio appealing.
In the past few weeks, Phil Spencer, the big boss of Xbox, has stated some interesting things. He has confirmed that they have increased their investements into more first party games and the focus is really on the content that they are building. Secondly, despite canceling Fable Legends, Spencer still believes that the franchise still has places to go, but at that time he had nothing new to announced regarding a possible new entry in the series. He has also assured fans that they are not ditching single player games with strong narratives. All of this indicates nothing but confidence from Microsoft’s end.
But what might these games be? Will they end up being appealing? Will Microsoft just showcase Sea of Thieves, Forza 7, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2, and a bunch of third party games, and call it a day? Is Scalebound getting revived? As of right now, we don’t know- but from the indications we have from Halo 6 not being there, all I can say is that Microsoft may be pretty confident about its E3 showing this year.
And that’s a good thing.