Sunday was a great day for Xbox! In front of a large E3 audience, the company delivered a world class press conference. They came into this years E3 with consumer confidence in the brand at an all-time low due to the lack of exclusives/first party games. Some might say that the releases of both State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves should have calmed the fever pitch surrounding the issue: however, both games were met with a luke-warm reception from critics and fans alike. By revealing 18 games with Xbox exclusivity, along with the creation of a brand new Santa Monica Studio dubbed, “The Initiative” and the acquisition of four other Studios, Microsoft has made it clear to fans that they have heard their concerns and plan to address them in a major way.
These acquisitions, while big for Microsoft, are also very telling of the fact that they are indeed conceding this current console battle to Sony. The Initiative according to Phil Spencer ( Head of Xbox) is working on what he described to be “Quadruple A games”, and with Darrell Gallagher, formerly of Crystal Dynamics at the helm, The Initiative is in good hands. The studio however, is still in the stages of hiring staff, so you wont be seeing any new games from them for years to come, if they plan to live up to promise that Phil made.
With the purchase of Undead Labs and Ninja Theory while exciting prospects, both studios have released games in the last year. This means they aren’t going to be releasing new projects anytime soon; nevertheless, the other two studios that Microsoft acquired, Compulsion and Playground Games, are already releasing games this year. They are coming out in the form of “We Happy People” and “Forza Horizon 4”. Respectively, neither of which are going to turn the tide to Microsoft’s side in this current generations console war.
Phil Spencer himself announced on stage that Microsoft was currently in development of the next Xbox. This just seven months after the release of the most powerful console ever made in the Xbox One X. Clearly, Microsoft understands that there’s no changing the current landscape quick enough to overtake Sony this generation. However, the announcements made Sunday are an important first step to get consumers excited about the Xbox in a way they haven’t been in a while. Microsoft maybe conceding this battle, but they still plan to win the console war.