Xbox are having a howler this generation when it comes to exclusive games.
At least, that is how I feel about their attempts so far to stay in touch with the competition.
Unfortunately for Xbox, despite their efforts elsewhere, they have discovered that the third console curse is real and are still on the back foot.
Following a much-maligned launch, the Xbox One has had to endure a series of shake-ups in its five-year lifespan, not to mention being reportedly outsold 2:1 by the PS4.
Perhaps their most unforgivable sin however, is just how Microsoft have got to the point where they appear to be happy with having a very powerful machine to play a myriad of tepid exclusives on.
Of course we know this won’t be the case, but without that roadmap of upcoming titles to get excited about, it is leaning towards this perception.
We are now at the point where not even a token instalment of Halo, Gears of War or Forza can truly arouse interest within the most randy of Xbox fans.
Let’s not even try and pretend that Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 has even come close to the expectation of them being stellar exclusives for the system.
It’s all been a bit… meh.
Sure, some would argue until they are blue in the face about system performance, power under the hood and the console’s reliability, I would certainly agree with them on that
But, I feel that isn’t is the problem for Xbox.
For all that power and capability, without having some exclusive games to really get excited for, it’s a bit like having a Ferarri with no wheels… it’s a waste of potential.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that Xbox can’t expect hardware alone to push them ahead of their competitors.
Now this isn’t to say that Xbox are failing, far from it, they just need to figure out how they can up their game (no pun intended) and announce some titles that are going to get the masses interested.
In any business, no one is happy seeing a direct competitor taking all the plaudits, and I think that Xbox will be no different in resting on their laurels for too long when it comes to their upcoming exclusives.
So why should we be excited?
It’s simple. Xbox need to come out swinging to give their fans something to get excited about, and I believe the fight will start at E3 2018.
Microsoft are doing things a little differently this year, promising their “biggest E3 showing ever” and moving away from a traditional Monday slot to Sunday June 10.
So are we getting a hint that they have more to talk about this year? New exclusive games perhaps? Only time will tell on that one.
While Sony have been enjoying one of the strongest first-party exclusive line-ups in recent memory, Xbox have been busy adding small improvements here and there to improve their foundation.
Backwards compatibility isn’t ever going to win outright in a fight against an attractive new IP, but what it does offer is a value-add not currently available elsewhere on the console market.
It’s an example of how Microsoft are happy to play the long game, and I think shows that they are slowly getting their ducks in a row to give themselves a better chance at market dominance once again.
Last year they launched the Xbox One X, the world’s most powerful console – with nothing truly exciting and exclusive to play on it…
Well, at least nothing you couldn’t get elsewhere or really sold you on the souped-up system.
The reality is that the true power of this beast has still to be unleashed.
Now we may never get the ‘killer app’ for it, but imagine if Xbox had nabbed the rights to a very tasty IP and could boast of a ‘true 4K HDR’ version on the X – anyone else having fantasies about Microsoft making this happen with Rocksteady and the rumoured Superman title?
Suddenly all that power looks a whole lot more attractive.
I am confident we are going to see something that truly turns heads, because franlky it isn’t going to be found in 4K updates to Fallout 3, but in meaty exclusives that the competition can only dream of running on their own hardware.
I mean, why bother bringing this powerful console into existence if you are only going to use it to pretend original Xbox games and older third-party titles are worth the expensive upgrade?
Sure, Xbox is on the back foot for exclusive games, but don’t forget history has shown us that it could mean we gamers are in for a treat.
Like the Xbox One, Sony’s PS3 was poorly received at launch and featured a line-up of exclusives that just didn’t capture the imagination of players in the same way as the competition.
But, as we all know, it went on to have a strong curtain call, culminating in one of the best games of all time – The Last of Us.
Now I am not saying we should expect a watershed moment from Microsoft, but we should expect a strong effort to try and end this generation on a high note with some strong exclusives.
They have arguably the best online/system infrastructure, more value-led initiatives such as backwards compatibility and the most power under the hood.
The only thing missing here is the games, and I think we gamers should be every excited to see what Phil Spencer and co have up their sleeve.
With E3 only a matter of weeks away, there is a growing feeling that we are in for a treat, one that isn’t simply super space soldiers, chainsaw lancers or fancy cars.
And without putting too fine a point on it – they need to get their fingers out.
So, please Microsoft… surprise us.