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The Curious Case of Xbox and First-Party Games

With great power comes great responsibility… to deliver games

For all the backing and power Xbox has, you have to wonder how the company has let themselves get into this situation. Currently, they are a laughing stock – the butt of all jokes. They’ve been smashed by Sony in almost every facet this generation; since day one they have been playing catch up. The Xbox One X was meant to be the company’s salvation (a product you still cannot pre-order), but despite the incessant brouhaha from those that bleed green (I love their enthusiasm and passion), there is still a distinct lack of first-party titles from Microsoft (that we know of) on the horizon.

Yesterday’s announcement that Crackdown 3 (an Xbox One X flagship launch title) had been delayed until some stage in 2018 provided gamers with more ammunition to stick the boots into the company. Surely even the most ardent Xbox fans must be getting concerned about the lack of first-party titles coming out of the company, whether in terms of actual releases or even just announcements for future titles. Especially so given the impending launch of their Herculean console, the Xbox One X, which at this stage only really has Forza Motorsport 7 to show off its capabilities. It looks highly likely that the only Microsoft published games that will land in 2017 is the aforementioned Forza and Halo Wars 2.

Crackdown 3 is the latest high-profile title to be delayed

PlayStation fans on the other hand, have enjoyed a myriad of quality exclusives this year, ranging from AAA games such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Persona 5 and Nioh, to indies such as Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice, Pyre and Matterfall. The only Xbox exclusive to interest me this year is Cuphead, and that’s not even a first-party title. You could argue that Xbox has an impressive 2018 line-up, which they do with State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves and now Crackdown 3. However, Crackdown 3 was announced in 2014 and Sea of Thieves was announced in 2015, meaning that Xbox underestimated how long these games would take to develop and now gamers are left with no real incentive to buy the Xbox One X (on launch) other than power and better performing third-party titles. State of Decay 2 gets a pass as it was only announced in 2016, but other than that what else have Xbox announced? The only other two games worthy of noting are Scalebound and the Phantom Dust reboot, and one has been cancelled and the other has been shelved, plus there were no new games announced at this year’s E3 because the Xbox One X was the centrepiece.

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has done an impressive job of turning the Xbox brand around since the company’s disastrous Xbox One announcement. However, as the old sporting analogy goes it’s a results driven business and quite frankly Spencer has barely delivered any results from a first-party games point of view. In big Phil’s defence he has made a whole back catalogue of Xbox 360 games available, as well as making almost every past and future Xbox exclusive also available on Windows 10, not to mention spearheading a push for cross-platform multiplayer with Sony. I like Phil, I dig his passion and I genuinely believe he has gamers’ best interests at heart. But since Spencer took over the throne, the only new IPs Xbox have released have been Quantum Break (which I loved), Sunset Overdrive (which was great), ReCore (which was a half-cooked mess) and we have Sea of Thieves in development. Other than that we’ve had new entries in the Halo, Gears of War and Dead Rising franchises, all of which were either average, stale or performed poorly commercially.

Fans will be hoping Rare’s new adventure lives up to its potential

Don’t get me wrong, I like Xbox and I want to see them thrive, however I cannot see any clear reason why I would pre-order the Xbox One X. I have a PS4 Pro, a powerful PC and an Xbox One, what reason is there for me to upgrade? To me it needs a system seller, something that can leverage all that power straight off the bat and entice people to drop $649 AUS on it. I bought my Xbox One on day one for Ryse, a game which I thoroughly enjoyed. Other than that the Xbox One is generally my preference for FPS because of the superior controller for games of that ilk. When pre-orders for the Xbox One X eventually do go live (we’ll find out more information at Gamescom) I’ll most likely reserve one, however whether I actually go through with the purchase or not I’m unsure, as currently I’m not sold.

I’ve no doubt that Xbox has a number of unannounced titles that they’re working on, and given their recent history of cancellations and delays, it’s probably a good thing that they haven’t announced them yet. However, fans want to see something new from the software juggernaut, not the same delayed games from three years ago, so hopefully Xbox gives us something new this weekend at Gamescom. The Xbox One X has all the hallmarks to give the Xbox brand some deliverance. It has the power, it just needs the games.

Written By

Co-Founder & Managing Editor of WellPlayed. Sometimes a musician, lover of bad video games, Nickelback and Huawei. Living proof that Australian's drink Foster's. Carlton, Burnley FC & SJ Sharks fan Get around him on Twitter @tightinthejorts


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