Microsoft’s foggy Xbox future has been a recurring conversation in recent years since Sony took a massive lead in hardware sales. Xbox One X sales numbers are looking strong, but we’ll just have to wait and see how that pans out in the long run. Anyway, the main tagline Microsoft has been pushing for the Xbox One X is that it’s “The best platform to play games on”. Most of the time when this topic is brought up, we immediately jump straight to thinking about exclusive titles. As we all know, Sony has been dominating recently with critically praised releases like Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5. For this beginning segment, let’s take exclusives out of the equation and shed some light on what Xbox exceeds at.
I believe the services and choices Xbox One offers are superior to the PlayStation 4. To date, these services include: EA Access, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Play Anywhere, Xbox Rewards, Xbox 360 and OG Xbox Backward Compatibility, the Elite Controller, a better kept online infrastructure, Xbox Design Labs for custom controllers, the ability to change your Gamertag (c’mon Shuhei!) and the company is more open to cross-play titles with PC, Nintendo and PlayStation (ex: Rocket League, Minecraft).
Phil Spencer has proven time and time again that it’s in his best interest to cater to the gamers. In my opinion, the company is still recovering from the travesty of messaging the Xbox One used at launch (family, sports, TV, Call of Duty). Phil is still pushing for more ways to treat Xbox gamers with additions like the upcoming reconstruction of Xbox achievements and native 4K games for the hardcore Xbox fans who want a premium product.
Now, The Exclusives
Phil Spencer is fully aware of the lack of AAA exclusives, but he has stated that he’s not comfortable announcing games that are at least two years out. Phil’s quote:
We are investing in new things, we signed things just recently that I thought, ‘Hey, from a PR standpoint it would be really easy for me to put a trailer on screen’, but then I know the game is not coming for another two and half or three years, so I didn’t want to do that.
I understand some people would say, ‘Hey, that would give me confidence in the future of Xbox’…
This is a cheesy line, but I’ll just say, trust that this is important to us as a platform. From the top CEO of the company down, if you talked to Satya [Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO] he would say ‘I understand, we need to invest in content in the gaming space’.
So what will happen when Xbox turns things around in the exclusives department? If Microsoft can output games of the same caliber as Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, that would surely shift the mindshare in Xbox’s direction. Partner top-notch exclusives with the best services and applications out there and you get one helluva gaming/entertainment experience. One that maybe even Sony won’t be able to keep up with (until they start offering all-around better services).
The Xbox One is ‘winning’ in multiple areas in comparison to PS4 when it comes to catering to the fans. Its biggest issue right now is how far off the big AAA exclusives may be, and how this gap will affect the Xbox One X sales and reception. Don’t get me wrong, this year will surely be a decent year for Xbox One console exclusives with titles like Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, State of Decay 2 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. But one thing all of those games are lacking is the AAA polish of exclusives like Gears of War 4 and Sunset Overdrive. To add to that, 2018 might just be the PS4’s biggest year yet with games like God of War, Spider-Man, Detroit: Become Human and possibly Days Gone. So it’s possible that PlayStation overshadows Xbox once again, similar to last year.
Why Are Exclusives Important?
Even though exclusives represent a very small percentage of the overall games released on consoles, they’re incredibly important. They get people in the door. Whether a person is new to this generation of consoles, looking into owning multiple platforms, or completely new to video games as a whole, the first thing they do is check out what exclusive games each platform has to offer. While Xbox may have the upper hand in terms of services and choice, Sony wins when it comes to pound for pound great exclusives games. Unfortunately for Microsoft, exclusives sell consoles a lot more proficiently than services and applications.
I think the Xbox One X’s sales will stay strong for a short while, as all the hardcore Xbox fans are rushing into stores to pick one up. However, I hypothesize that sales will begin to slow down until Microsoft is done cooking up those AAA exclusives Phil Spencer Spoke of. Lastly, if they could obtain PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds as a full console exclusive, that would definitely be a huge get for the company. With a somewhat disappointing lineup of Xbox exclusives coming this year, I’m hopeful the Phil and co. have a lot of surprises of their sleeves.
Sony turned things around with the PlayStation 3 after its underwhelming launch — offering solid exclusives and going on to surpass the Xbox 360 in worldwide sales near the end of the console lifecycle. Then Sony hit it out of the park with its PS4 messaging at launch, 100Xs better than the smug PS3 messaging back in 2006. Then Nintendo hit a new low with the Wii U’s sales but came back better than ever with Switch (still a bit too early to tell just how great though). Same goes for the Nintendo 3DS’s rocky start. Things started off rough but then the handheld went on to sell like hotcakes (70 million units sold and still thriving).
What I’m getting at is, we should know better by now then to count a company down and out. Once Xbox’s heavy-hitting console exclusives are done gestating, I can imagine the large gap of units sold between PS4 and Xbox One closing up immensely.
This opinion piece was a bit scattered, but that’s all my thoughts on paper. I wanna know what you think. Do you think the Xbox One X will continue to thrive? What other ways can Microsoft improve the Xbox One experience? Leave all your thoughts in the comments below, or on our social media page!
Brett Medlock is a senior editor and a lead on video production here at Enthusiast Gaming. He’s obsessed with action-adventure games, platinum trophies, and K-pop. To hear more about how lame he is, follow him on Twitter @brettnll