And an attempt at addressing what was the Xbox One’s biggest weakness…
Microsoft’s recent Xbox Series X live stream was the first of a series of monthly livestreams meant to reveal new games, features and details about the upcoming next gen console. And while the event itself had mixed results among fans(which we’ll get into later) it clearly communicated two things : a) Microsoft is essentially strutting their stuff with this new console and b) the Xbox Series X is desperate to prove it will have all the games you need.
Now the Xbox Series X has essentially been the face of the upcoming console generation since its reveal last December, and has not shown any signs of slowing down since. The console has revealed almost all it’s specs, shown of some key features, teased a few games, and is now going full steam ahead on staying in the public discourse as far as games and the games industry in general are concerned. And this is all by design. A design which we have to say Microsoft has been executing pretty well so far. You see, if we were to wind it back to 2013, before the PS4 and Xbox One were fully unveiled, details about those consoles were still more rumor than reality, and so was a lot of other information about them. And while in this generation Sony has largely stuck to that same model, Microsoft has essentially pulled the rug under them and decided to make the Series X as public as possible as compared to the more hush hush PS5. Now why has Microsoft done this? Well for starters, to get ahead. Microsoft didn’t do as well as they hoped with the Xbox One consoles and while they did claw back some respect and market share those consoles are currently outsold at a ratio of almost 3:1 when compared to the PS4 and its variations. Hence Microsoft wants every advantage they can get making those PS4 owners switch to the Series X next generation and also show off just why they might want to. This starts by, well , making the Series X present. Ever since December everyone interested in console gaming has known the Xbox Series X’s design, capabilities and some of its games, while the PS5 remains a mystery. This isn’t exactly unexpected but it can have an unexpected effect, which is mindshare. The Series X already seems like its here now while the PS5 seems like its still being worked on. So much so that even the design is still a mystery that people hope and pray is not as ugly as the dev kits. So to some extent some players may feel more drawn tpo the Series X simply because they’ve heard about it for so long, in the same way everyone who wants an expensive smartphone has an iPhone cross their mind even if they’ll never buy it. It could also help with younger gamers, who can nag their parents for a whole year (much to Microsoft’s pleasure) for an Xbox Series X and by the time said parents reach December to buy a game console for Christmas, that same Series X might be the thing they remember even if by then their child might want a PS5 instead. It’s not a genius plan but it can work, and Microsoft definitely wants any advantage it can get here.
Then there’s the other fact that Microsoft definitely wanted the event to highlight: The Xbox Series X has a lot of good games, and some are exclusive, while others have benefits of the Xbox ecosystem. The Xbox One was notorious for not having enough “system seller” games that were exclusive to it AKA console exclusive games that couldn’t be found anywhere else. This was essentially what defined the PS4 and while of course big major releases like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and so on where released for both consoles, Sony’s PS4 had some of the best games of the last decade. These included 2018’s God of War, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and even more forgotten heavy hitters like Infamous: Second Son. The Xbox One on the other hand mainly had only Forza, Halo and Gears of War to rely on, and only Forza really became a breakout success stealing the title of “preferred simulation racer” from Sony’s Gran Turismo. Otherwise the fact that Xbox exclusive games became available on Windows 10 PCs too didn’t help much either, with hardcore gamers seemingly content with just using the PC instead in tandem with their PS4. This is why Microsoft was eager to show off the 13 games it showed that will all be available during the Series X’s launch cycle. A lot of them will also be key showcases of the Xbox Smart delivery system, which means the game can be bought on Xbox One and have a Series X copy available for free as soon as the player buys an Xbox Series X , which actually uses the past weakness of no exclusive games as a strength as the series X can immediately benefit from multiple beloved Xbox One games for free. There’s also the partnership between Microsoft and Ubisoft for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, which mainly has the game being promoted in tandem with the Series X and vice versa. This doesn’t mean that it’s a Series X exclusive of course as it’s also available for PS4 and 5 , but it can fool a few people into maybe giving the Series X more attention because of it. And all this really speaks to just illustrate one point which I’m sure Microsoft wants people to get: the Xbox Series X has games, good games too, and you should definitely check them out. And unfortunately, nearly all the games shown at the virtual event are also available on PS5 as well, but Microsoft has an event for July aimed at nothing but Xbox Series X exclusives like Halo: Infinite, so they still want that itch to be scratched too. The only question will be whether Sony would have shown a hand of their own to persuade buyers, who by now are getting at least a little frustrated that the PS5 is seemingly acting like the diva of the console world, refusing to come out until the crowd begs for it. It’s another marketing strategy that Sony is definitely playing well, but they might need to change their approach because it might not work out too well for them soon enough, though that remains to be seen.
Either way Microsoft’s continued salvos into this console war are welcome, and we definitely want more of them, well just wait to see if they pay off when Sony finally decides to play ball.