So Nintendo had one of their directs yesterday, and as far as I can tell, everyone was extremely happy with what they showed. Nintendo has had quite the journey from the Wii U to the Switch, up until today. Lot’s of announcements, lot’s of surprises, lot’s of hype and seemingly lots of games as well. People seem to go nuts over virtually everything Nintendo announces as it relates to the Switch.
So I guess I’m wondering, perhaps more specifically, what could Microsoft do between now and say, one year after Scarlett comes out, to both build and maintain that type of momentum?
Yes, they can announce games. Lots of games. And they can be good or even great games. But again, I’m looking for specifics. If you had a laundry list of things MS should do to build up and deliver on as it relates to the momentum of their next gen platform, what would be on that list?
I’ve always been a Microsoft guy over a Sony guy for consoles myself, and one of the big reasons I never bothered with an Xbox One, aside from the fact that Microsoft was originally trying to force Kinect down everyone’s throats, was that there’s no exclusive games for it. They’re console exclusive, sure, but almost all of them are available on PC.
Halo 5: Guardians is one of the major games not on PC that I can think of, but that’s not enough to make me want to go and buy a dedicated console.
There’s also the turn off of Xbox LIVE, and how I’m opposed to paying a subscription fee to play actual parts of the game I’ve purchased. This also isn’t an issue on PC.
So my big thing for their next console, is make it have real, solid, exclusive titles. Without that, what’s the point? I know Xbox LIVE’s subscription fee isn’t going away, but the Xbox and Xbox 360 had excellent exclusive titles. The Xbox One should have as well.
That didn’t work in the 360 era, since all we got are that terrible Perfect Dark prequel and a Lego Racers knockoff with Banjo-Kazooie in it. Now if they put effort and make good games with those IPs this time around, than I can see it working. But they should still work on new exclusives as well, Sunset Overdrive was a great game for example. Playing on nostalgia alone has really only worked with Nintendo.
Also since it’s clear that XBL Gold will always exist, they need to do with Scarlett like they did with the Xbox One: Not require a credit card to use a prepaid subscription. As someone who is paranoid about tying cards to accounts, I was actually angry to find out both Sony and Nintendo require me to tie payment methods on my accounts to use even a prepaid gift card for their services. I was actually surprised to find out MS was the good guy in that regard.
Most of what Nintendo has done to turn their standing around is stuff Microsoft could do in some fashion as well. Standout hardware with unique perks, several huge successes on reinventing and iterating beloved first-party franchises, using initial leverage to reinvigorate third-party support, a fairly steady stream of releases, etc.
I think Sclarett is on track for some of these things, with the hardware being heavily rumored to be superior to PS5 and Xbox Live already being considered overall better than PSN. Last E3 seemed to indicate that MS is interested in courting Japanese studios again, too.
What’s left to see is how the games from their newly-acquired studios and projects will work out, because if the initial titles from them aren’t varied winners that could spell trouble for the future. MS has to actually market and support them as well if they’re gong to escape the ‘dudebro shooter’ stigma their brand has carried for a long time.
I kinda wonder how much of it is MS knowing they’ve lost the current console race and simply trying to both ring some extra money out of it’s titles, find more unique revenue streams (from PC to Switch to Game Pass etc) and perhaps also lay a groundwork of goodwill and positive PR that they can help use to springboard in to the next generation, especially given public opinion going in to the XB1 launch.
That’s kinda where I’m at on XB1 exclusives in this portion of the console’s lifecycle. Sony didn’t have to find all of these revenue streams or grasp at positive PR wherever they could find it because they were selling both hardware and software hand over fist. They learned their lessons the previous generation and applied them. MS kinda seems to be trying to do the same in some regards.
Obviously they bulked up their list of first party studios considerably. I think they know they need exclusives next time around, not just to sell Scarlett systems, but to sell Game Pass as well. Honestly, I hope they keep expanding. They need to.
Yeah, I think all of this would certainly help a good deal. They need to absolutely overload players with exciting announcements of heavy hitters across as many genres as possible at the next E3. Minimal 3rd party stuff. Just a litany of titles that fans want. Some cool new IPs, certainly, but definitely lots of sequels that fans would be interested in as well.
Yeah I don’t think anyone’s advocating for quantity at the expense of quality. You’re right, the 360 didn’t become the best selling console because of exclusives like Perfect Dark, Kameo, or BK: Nuts and Bolts. But I do think that they had those, and Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Forza, Gears, Halo, Fable, Amped, Crackdown etc so they were matching a lot of what Sony was offering in terms of quality while also taking a lot of exclusives away.
Sony was no longer the only place to get Final Fantasy or Tekken or other Japanese titles. MS was able to get some of those titles as well while even getting a few of their own like Infinite Undiscovery. MS was also the go-to place for Call of Duty during this generation and fighting games as well. You add all of that together with a lower price point than PS3 and it was a recipe for consistent momentum in both sales and genre growth on the Xbox platform.
I think MS can do this again, especially if they can start cranking out the hits and keep cranking them out (XB1 actually had a very solid first year or two in this regard while Sony struggled, but the situation completely reversed itself before long), but they have to be proactive in all areas.
Where MS went to Sakaguchi last generation at got Lost Odyssey, they’re now watching as Sony and Kojima are working together on a substantial title. Where MS once held the FGC in a sense, Sony came back by getting SFV exclusive and getting several ArcSys games that MS couldn’t or didn’t.
MS has to somehow find a way to challenge Sony on all fronts, in every genre, and they have to have more titles, better titles, etc. Sony learned their lesson about system price. They won’t hand MS that victory again. So if MS wants to turn heads and lure back lost fans or lure Sony fans (who tend to be staunchly loyal to Sony) they have to engage on all fronts and continually prove themselves to be the best console, the best bargain and the place for the best games no matter what you’re in to.
Agreed. Nintendo has a nice blueprint here, and MS would do well to follow it in some respects. While MS’ franchises either have a little bit of iteration fatigue on them (Halo, Gears, Forza) or perhaps a lesser or lower profile due to dormancy (Crimson Skies, MechAssault, Lost Odyssey, Fable, Kameo, Perfect Dark, Banjo, Conker, etc) and not nearly the amount of love that Nintendo gets for its mascot games and what not, I think they can put enough surprises together to get fans excited, especially if they can deliver on the promises of the trailers they’ll show off in the quality department.
But yeah, a steady stream of these releases are needed, for sure. It can’t just be three big titles a year, and two of them come out in the busiest gaming months of the year. I’d also argue that they need to both create and reinvigorate more franchises. Not just bring back more games, but actually bring them back AS franchises. If Gears can get two mainline games plus two side games in one console generation, then I think Fable, Crimson Skies, etc could all get two games and maybe a few of the more successful titles get a spinoff or two.
If I’m a fan of Killer Instinct, I want more Killer Instinct. The fact that you have a new Halo, Gears or Forza coming this year might mean nothing to me if I like fighting games. So give me some fighting games. Give me two KI games next generation and give both some nice DLC trails after release. Maybe give me a few other fighting games as well. A revamped Kakuto Chojin or Tao Feng or a new IP or a deal with Sega for Virtua Fighter 6 or Eternal Champions 2.
Keep genre fans happy. If people like big, sprawling, narrative-driven action games like Uncharted and Horizon Zero Dawn and God of War, then give them franchises like that. Not just one or two games for the whole generation, but multiple franchises with multiple entries. If Sony can do that, MS should be able to as well.
All of that sounds great. I think being the more powerful console is where MS feels comfortable and perhaps rightly so, even if I think the power argument was more used by Sony fans at a time when they weren’t getting as many great games earlier on.
I love that they’re talking to Japanese studios again as well. I think they should absolutely bring Mistwalker in to the fold if at all possible. I know they’re more of a writing studio than a “program and release games” studio, at least from what I’ve seen, but Lost Odyssey could and should be Xbox’s Final Fantasy series, and if they can get Mistwalker to expand a bit, and get permanent support studios the way Artoon and feelplus supported them on some of their games, MS could have a great batch of titles to help fill a substantial genre void.
Yeah and I hope they realize that last part especially. Halo and Gears, while quality titles, are not getting any younger, so they’re going to need, not just some new tent pole franchises, but they need them in genres that aren’t shooters or racing, since that’s all they’re essentially known for right now (as you said).
Personally, if I were MS, I’d do the following at E3:
ONE: Pledge that Scarlett will have the exact same price as PS5.
TWO: Announce that Halo Infinite won’t be a launch title, it’ll be a pack-in game.
THREE: Announce a BIG purchase. I’m talking a substantial industry shaker that pulls several high profile titles under the Xbox umbrella, perhaps one of:
Valve: Counter-strike, Dota 2, Half-Life
Take Two: NBA 2K, Civilization along with Rockstar: GTA, Red Dead, Max Payne, LA Noire
EA: Madden, Fifa, Star Wars, Battlefield
Activision Blizzard: Call of Duty, Tony Hawk, Crash Bandicoot, WoW, Overwatch, Diablo
Ubisoft: Assassins Creed, Far Cry, Tom Clancy titles, Prince of Persia, Rayman, BG&E
Sega: Sonic, Virtua Fighter, Phantasy Star, Yakuza, Total War, Jet Grind Radio, Skies of Arcadia
Square Enix: Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest, Deus Ex, Legacy of Kain
Capcom: Street Fighter, Monster Hunter, Onimusha, Resident Evil, Mega Man, Dino Crisis
Bandai Namco: Dragon Ball, Naruto, Ace Combat, Pac Man, Tekken, Soul Calibur, Tales series
Konami: Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, Silent Hill, PES, Contra, Suikoden, Vandal Hearts
Bethesda: Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Prey, Evil Within, Dishonored, Id: Doom, Quake, Rage, Wolfenstein
I kinda feel like any one of those would be a rather earth-shattering get for MS. Granted, I’m not saying any of them would be easy. We know Ubisoft resisted a hostile takeover recently and I’m NOT advocating MS just barge in and take control of one of these while all the talent leaves and they’re left with nothing but the IPs.
However, if there is a deal to be made for one of them, I’d love to see MS dive in and I do think that MS has the money to get one of these and really bring some fantastic, A tier quality franchises in to their ecosystem.
FOUR: Game announcements / games coming at launch or in year one. This is a huge must. MS needs a lot more than Halo this time around. They need to bring back SEVERAL franchises and they need multiple big hit caliber titles at launch and throughout the first few years, but definitely in year one.
Hope they announce for the launch window: Gears 5 Special Edition, Gears Collection (1 thru 4), Forza Horizon 5, Fable 4, Killer Instinct 4, Crimson Skies 2, a new Banjo game plus new titles from Compulsion, Ninja Theory and Obsidian to go with the best 3rd party has to offer.
In the first year, it’d be great if they could also get games from Undead Labs, Double Fine, The Initiative and InXile and hopefully they can at least show a title or a trailer at E3.
I’m also hoping that in the first year or two we see announcements for Lost Odyssey 2, Blue Dragon 2, Blood Wake 2, Kameo 2, Conker 2, as well as a new fighting game or two.
All of this is WAY too much to expect from MS right out of the gate. I’m just throwing out name after name, franchise after franchise, developer after developer and I know that this isn’t how the industry works. Games take time to make and I can’t will some mega deal in to fruition.
I get all that.
But in order for MS to actually have the momentum needed to take on Sony in the next generation, I think they’ll need more than good games. Sega launched the Dreamcast with an awesome group of titles spanning several genres with plenty of others announced and on the way and Sony launched the PS2 with Fantavision and Kessen and some other less than thrilling titles and still wiped the floor with them.
I mean, honestly, XB1 had a far better year or maybe even two years from a software perspective than PS4, but the latter still did far better thanks to the price and power of the PS4.
Xbox had the best graphics its generation as well as Xbox Live and still had no hope of catching PS2. Game Gear was in color and Game Boy and its pea green screen still wiped the floor with it because it was cheaper and it had more games.
In other words… MS is taking on the undisputed king right now. Being cheaper alone likely won’t be enough after this current generation. Sony has all the momentum in the world, especially after the string of high tier titles they’ve put out in the last few years. So price, while a factor, might not rule the day.
Having the best graphics alone likely won’t be enough. As soon as Xbox 1X came out, most Sony apologists simply switched from arguing graphics to arguing games. Granted, that’s a very specific group of fans, but that’s kinda the point. MS lost a lot of consumer trust early on; lost a lot of 360 owners to Sony.
So they need to be cheaper, they need to have the graphics, they need some type of value surprise like a pack in game, they need a jaw-dropping list of launch titles and IMO, they need that massive, industry altering purchase of a publisher that can bring several franchises under their belt and the momentum that comes with such an “all in” type of move.
They likely won’t have all of these (I doubt they’ll pack a game with the system and if they do, I really doubt it’d be Halo Infinite), but they should have as many as possible.
With the previous generation, Sony was coming off of the PlayStation 2, the best selling console in history, and Microsoft had only gotten its feet wet and tested the waters with the original Xbox. Sony was arrogant as (insert appropriate expletive) and it showed, as with the PlayStation 3 they weren’t offering gamers what they wanted, they were telling them what they wanted. It doesn’t work that way. Top it off with it being crazy hard to develop for, and you have an instant poor platform.
Microsoft was all about pleasing their customer base, and having solid, fantastic exclusive titles. The PlayStation 3 was such a poor console, I remember Gabe Newell even stating Sony should just scrap it and start afresh. The PlayStation 3 was just a joke for years and years and years.
Somewhere around late 2011 to early 2012 though, I started noticing a shift, and Microsoft started getting far more cocky and Sony actually seemed to be waking up. By the end of the generation, honestly, the PlayStation 3 had just become the better platform; better costs, options, and exclusives. That mentality carried forward into the current generation, and the roles were reversed: Microsoft was now trying to tell the consumer what it wanted, and Sony was listening to it’s consumer base. Microsoft had next to no good exclusives, and Sony had all the coolest ones. The PlayStation 4 was by far the better console out of the gate, and the Xbox One was the joke.
We’ll see how this generation ends and how the next begins. Overall though, both have suffered with a general resurgence of PC gaming, that also really picked up around 2011 to 2013 as I recall.