Xbox’s Worrying Exclusivity Problem This Generation
Xbox Has Some Issues When It Comes to Exclusive Games
This week we learned that Crackdown 3 has been delayed until Spring 2018, a disappointing but not entirely unexpected development given that the game made a splash at E3 2014, promising to utilise the power of cloud computing to create massive on-screen destruction before going dark for some time since. This isn’t just bad news for Crackdown fans though as it leaves Xbox’s 2017 exclusives list perilously short. In terms of first-party exclusives the publisher has Forza Motorsport 7 coming in October and that’s it with a number of titles scheduled for next year or forced to move there like Crackdown 3 because of a delay.
Another worrying trend for the publisher is the lack of new IP’s in the pipeline. Rare’s Sea of Thieves is one shining example but is unlikley to set the world on fire unlike a game such as Sony’s Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s unlikely that Microsoft will be able to turn this around anytime either as they simply can’t compete with Sony’s stable of studios worldwide. Bankable franchises such as Halo and Gears of War are unlikely to see further releases anytime soon and even they have shown signs of slowdown, there’s a sense that these iconic shooters have less relevance now amongst the likes of Destiny. Like Sony last generation, Microsoft has some catching up to do in terms of console games yet there isn’t going to be a system seller like the PlayStation 3’s The Last of Us on the horizon anytime soon for the platform.
It’s worth taking a look at Xbox’s treatment of their first-party IP in recent times too. Lionhead Studios, the creators of Fable were shuttered and the ill-fated free-to-play Fable Legends cancelled. There’s no doubt that the respect that studio once possessed has faded but what of the license of Fable itself? One of the platform’s historic and most unique properties now lies dormant still with unfulfilled potential. Disaster struck for another exclusive title at the beginning of this year with the cancellation of Scalebound from Platinum Games. The game was obviously not running well and development was undoubtedly having issues, Xbox’s decision to cancel the title was surely good business sense. However, given how far along the game was in development – first announced at E3 2014, with gameplay at Gamescom 2015 – could it have been worth it financially to spend more time getting the game into shape as one of the few exclusives on the system. Interesting new titles like Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive have come and gone and the platform seems to have run out of steam.
Perhaps the publisher has shifted focus and is instead looking towards the next generation, conceding defeat in terms of market share to Sony. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has continued reiterating the company’s commitment to gamers and a lot of marketing and attention has been given to Xbox One X, a console that is a step above the PlayStation 4 Pro in terms of power. Nevertheless, with a hefty price tag it’s unlikely that Xbox sees this console completely turning around their console generation after the disastrous launch of the Xbox One. If there’s a lesson to be learned here it’s that success last generation does not guarantee success in the next generation and Microsoft’s gamble on TV and other services was clearly the wrong move as the core players of Call of Duty and other mainstream titles flocked to Sony’s console who then subsequently hoovered up the third-party exclusivity for things like DLC and early access to content.
Xbox’s lack of first-party and second-party exclusives was highlighted most significantly when they announced the timed exclusivity of Rise of the Tomb Raider, a shrew business move given that Lara Croft was previously heavily PlayStation-centric. This surely cost the publisher a good chunk of money and from a sales perspective it doesn’t seem to have worked out especially well, with the first month of sales seeing the PC surpass the Xbox One’s by almost three times as much. It’s not all doom and gloom for the American corporation though with significant titles such as Sea of Thieves, Cuphead and State of Decay 2 coming next year and having earned some goodwill back from gamers with backwards compatibility.
Overall, it’s difficult to see where the hit exclusives are going to come from for Xbox in the next few years and although Microsoft and Xbox have committed to reorienting themselves towards gamers and improving the ecosystem of the Xbox family, there’s a distinct lack of exclusive games particularly for the remainder of this year. Although the publisher has some interesting titles in the pipeline it’s appeal to gamers will fall on deaf ears if they can’t muster some genuinely exciting exclusives before the end of the generation.
What do you think of the state of Xbox as a whole? Are you disappointed by their exclusives now and in the future?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.