Xbox had by far and away the best show of E3 2018 thanks to its strong third-party line-up and laying the foundation for a promising future but it appears that they won’t be using that foundation to try and take back this generation from PlayStation.
Yes, Xbox announced three Gears games (only one of which is for consoles) and a new Halo and we’re sure to get more Forza games until the next Xbox but the biggest announcement came from them acquiring new studios. Microsoft has brought five new studios under the Microsoft Studios banner, one of which (The Initiative) is being created from the ground up with industry veterans in Santa Monica.
Xbox enlisted the help of Ninja Theory (Hellblade, DMC), Playground Games (Forza Horizon), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few) and Undead Labs (State of Decay) to make exclusive games for Xbox going forward, the thing is, these studios either just finished a project or are about to ship a new game. Unless Microsoft wants these studios to focus on smaller projects along the lines of Recore or some other budget title, these studios are likely going to make their next games for next-gen.
On Sunday at the Xbox E3 2018 press briefing, Microsoft announced they’ve already begun working on the next Xbox which is codenamed Scarlett. Shortly after, several sources began reporting that the next Xbox will not be one device but a family of consoles and they’re on track to release in 2020 which is a year and a half away.
The next Xbox is very imminent and Microsoft is doing what they can to make Xbox One owners happy with consumer-friendly tactics like cross-buy/cross-play on PC, mobile, and even Nintendo Switch, subscription services like Game Pass, and more. They’re investing some energy into the Xbox One but they’ve ultimately realized that they’d be fighting an unwinnable war if they chased after the 70+ million PlayStation 4s sold as this generation is winding down.
Sony is going to be able to coast off of their exclusives which have been in development for quite some time, they have a consistent line-up through at least late 2019 and they may have some slip into 2020. They chose not to announce anything at E3 2018 because anything that goes into development within the next year will likely be mapped out for the next PlayStation which will launch as soon as 2021 according to Sony.
Trying to combat Sony’s exclusives right now is pointless, we all know the quality they’re able to pump out. As of right now, Xbox has only a few triple-A Xbox exclusives locked for 2019. Crackdown 3, Gears 5, and likely a new Forza. Given what we saw of Halo Infinite, it looks like it’s still a ways off. Microsoft has thrown in the towel in favor of building something completely new before Sony does. With a 2020 launch, Xbox has a minimum of a year advantage.
This gives them the benefit of having next-gen exclusive games essentially with Bethesda’s highly anticipated sci-fi RPG, Starfield, perhaps Halo Infinite, the rumored Fable game that Playground is working on, and much more. They’ll have a whole host of megaton exclusives both first and third party that push people to get the next Xbox and there will be no competition since Sony will be out a year later.
The Xbox One has been bogged down by issues since launch due to the fact they had to quickly rebuild the system’s functions after a marketing misstep when it was announced. The all-in-one entertainment system has slowly regressed back to just being a gaming console with entertainment apps, it’s not as heavy on the TV functionality and miscellaneous extras as it was at launch. The console hasn’t really fully recovered from the extensive reworking of its internals but a new console built from the ground-up can fix that.
As long as Microsoft plays their cards right, they can build a console that is both incredibly powerful and has the ability to offer unparalleled exclusive content that no one else can offer for at least an entire year. This head start allows Microsoft to get that boost they need to shoot ahead of the competition and get back on top of the industry like they were with the Xbox 360.
Will they actually be able to capitalize on it? Only time will tell but right now, things are aligning to create a very interesting start to the next generation of gaming consoles.