Microsoft was met with backlash when they revealed the Xbox One in 2013. The developers behind the console took the system in the wrong route. The original concept of the Xbox One required it to always be connected to the internet, focused on the unwanted Kinect, and restricted physical game sharing. Sadly, it was too late to recover. The PS4 swooped in hours later to wash the sour taste out of people mouths from Microsoft. The console war between Sony and Microsoft has been waging for years now. The Xbox 360 beat down the PS3, but the Wii took everyone by surprise as the best selling console of that generation.
Five years later, the PS4 is reigning supreme. The Nintendo Switch has also done very well for itself. In just two years, the Switch has gained massive popularity for portability and an excellent game library. Since the release of the Xbox One, it has gained popularity according to Mat Piscatella, a video game industry analyst. Sales of the Xbox One have apparently doubled in 2018 compared to the previous year. That’s some serious cash. Why did the number of sales increase for the Xbox One?
First, a stronger and faster Xbox came out. The Xbox One S came out a few years later but was a much-needed upgrade to the clunky box before it. The installation of a 4K Blu-ray player and the addition of UHD streaming made it a cheaper addition to the home entertainment center. A year later, Project Scorpio, now known as the Xbox One X, was released with even more power than the previous boxes and the already released PS4 Pro. Features like these are driving the Xbox platform further than other consoles. Microsoft is focusing on customer experience, quality of life, game exclusives, hardware, and numerous programs for games, which are the key to winning the console war.
Xbox Programs and Services
Microsoft’s next-generation console, Project Scarlett, has not been officially announced yet. However, Phil Spencer announced at E3 2018 that Microsoft was “deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles.” What we can expect is it’s going to have some sick ass features, such as game quality, exclusives, an expansive game pass library, and more ways to access Xbox Live. Xbox fans will have a lot to expect this year, and they should expect a golden age on the horizon. The upcoming console generation will surely beat what PlayStation has to offer in the coming years. Lately, PlayStation has had killer exclusives such as GOD OF WAR and SPIDER-MAN. Games like these have made the PS4 the cream of the crop when it comes to consoles.
However, outside of those games, the PS4 experience begins to break down. For example, PlayStation Now, Sony’s version of backward compatibility, is not good. PlayStation’s service is subscription based so even if you own the game already, you have to lay more money down to play that game. The backward compatibility program on Xbox allows you to play any available game for free if you already own it. Other areas Xbox is succeeding is it is Game Pass subscription. Being able to play all sorts of exclusive games and more for only $9.99 a month is one hell of a deal.
It’s services like these that are propelling Xbox farther up the ladder than PlayStation or Switch. Due to its fairly early life, the Switch doesn’t have a lot to offer other than games and convenience. The online service is cheap, but the incentives to buy the service make it lackluster. Along with that, the lack of third-party applications also makes the Switch feel like a shell at times.
Similar to what Google just announced at the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC), Microsoft is also working on a cloud gaming service. If this service, known as xCloud, is paired with Game Pass, it could really propel the Xbox platform forward. xCloud is currently being tested for tablets and phones. Players are able to pair an Xbox controller to the device for a smoother game experience. Microsoft also states it is looking into solutions for latency in parts of the world where this service may have troubles.
Furthermore, Xbox Live is coming to millions of more devices such as tablets, smartphones, and even the Nintendo Switch. During this year’s GDC, Microsoft announced Xbox Live is coming to Andriod and iOS systems. Developers will be able to tap into Xbox Live features such as achievements. In addition, with the announcement of CUPHEAD on the Nintendo Switch, Microsoft announced players will be able to sign into their Xbox Live accounts via the Switch to start gaining achievement score. This is a bold move for Microsoft, which could potentially expand the Play Anywhere library tremendously.
Xbox Exclusives are on Their Way
Xbox can get all the best services they want, but they are nothing unless they have great games to go with them. Luckily, Microsoft spent a lot of 2018 purchasing studios and creating a brand new one. If you have been living under a rock for the past year, then you wouldn’t know Xbox purchased six new studios: Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Compulsion Games, Obsidian Entertainment, and InXile. All six of these studios have developed amazing games like STATE OF DECAY, FORZA HORIZON, HELLBLADE: SENUA’S SACRIFICE, WE HAPPY FEW, FALLOUT NEW VEGAS, and WASTELAND 2, respectively.
These studios will be gaining a larger budget for their games leading to better games. The Xbox game’s portfolio is about to explode from all the amazing talent they have gathered. These six studios will bring the platform some of the best exclusives in years. Something Xbox has been lacking for some time. Games such as STATE OF DECAY and SEA OF THIEVES did not see great reception at launch but are slowly bringing back their audience with post-launch support.
With the purchase of six great studios, we cannot forget the creation of one. The Initiative is a brand spanking new studio that is planning to bring AAAA games! That’s right, not three As but four! None of us know what that means, but we can expect it will be a game in the realm of GOD OF WAR and RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2. These games received perfect scores across the board so we should expect a game of that caliber from The Initiative.
While on the subject of games, it seems Microsoft is going to be releasing more of their exclusive titles on PC. Recently, HALO: THE MASTER CHIEF COLLECTION announced it would be arriving on the so-called “master race” platform later this year. This is huge news for fans of the franchise who may have lost their faith with the Xbox platform. It’s these sorts of moves from Microsoft that help build a stronger relationship with their customers.
The next console war is approaching. Many will stick with the same side they always have. Some will make their decision based on the games and features of what each has to offer. Regardless, Microsoft is preparing for the future of Xbox. Their acquisitions of six studios and the creation of an AAAA studio makes their future game roster a heavy hitter. The next console to win the war will need smashing games and stellar programs to support them.
The Switch and the PS4 are spectacular consoles that have exceptional features and games. I am very excited to see what Sony and Nintendo have planned for their platforms in the future. I know it will only strive for each platform to perform the best it can for their respective fans. However, will it be enough to catch up with the Xbox?