Microsoft’s Xbox Needs More Momentum
Almost two months ago Microsoft announced it was making the biggest purchase in the history of video games. Xbox is buying Activision. Then they disappeared.
Call me ungrateful if you’d like. It’s a seemingly obtuse point to make: that they are both making the biggest purchase in the history of video games and being too quiet. The patient adult in me wants to accept that there are things happening behind the scenes. The obnoxious internet side of my personality wants to say “what have you done for me lately?”
But listen, I’m not just letting that obnoxious part of myself run wild. We’re three months into 2022 and we don’t have a solid idea of what will or will not be releasing this year on Xbox. We know there are countless games in development from dozens of studios across Bethesda, Activision and Xbox Game Studios. But we don’t know what they are. We don’t know how far along they are. And there’s a pretty good chance we won’t see anything of them until E3, which usually takes place half-way through June.
There are so many reasons to buy an Xbox. The Series X is just a solid console. This is going to be Xbox’s best generation, creatively and probably financially. But imagine what would happen if Xbox actually started talking about its plans.
What a wonderful world that would be.
Building Xbox Momentum
If supply constraints wasn’t a problem right now, Microsoft would probably be doing a bit more talking. PlayStation sure as hell are. We know they have God of War coming this year, Horizon and Gran Turismo 7 have already been released. That’s without counting the Legacy of Thieves collection.
Ghostwire Tokyo is on its way. Forspoken is a timed exclusive. Stray will probably do pretty well. Hogwarts Legacy is having heavy marketing for PlayStation, including a State of Play specifically built around it. And yes, if I’m going to cheat and include non-exclusive third parties, we can widen this net even more. It’s not necessarily about what is, it’s about what we perceive it to be. And PlayStation in 2022 is stacked with releases big and small.
Xbox doesn’t have to be PlayStation. It doesn’t need a calendar chocked full of releases, so long as those releases are good. The last part of 2021 was heavily Xbox biased, with both Forza Horizon and Halo proving these old franchises can still pack a punch. But what Xbox does need is momentum. It needs us to feel like there’s a lot on the horizon, and for that we need specifics.
And it’s more important than ever. Consoles are heavily supply constrained. There is discussion – completely unsubstantiated as far as I have bothered to look – that Microsoft have paid for extra capacity for their consoles. This has been playing out with console sales. PlayStation 5 sold only around 150 consoles in Spain over the last week. Xbox sold more in Europe as a whole than PlayStation, possibly for the first time ever.
Now is the time to be driving demand. It’s not enough to be just outselling the competition – that’s a useless metric favoured only by fanboys and internet accountants. It’s about mindshare. And those who want a PlayStation 5 still feel like they’re missing out by not being able to get one. Even that out while they’re still struggling, and the pendulum will begin to shift.
E3 is traditionally the time when the marketing efforts happen. That’s not enough.
In the age of 24-hour news cycles, endless instant debate and social media marketing, one day a year dedicated to shouting from the rooftops about your product is not enough. Especially if your E3 showing falls short for whatever reason.
And while I was being facetious about the “what have they done for me lately?”, the point remains. We haven’t seen any impact from the Bethesda purchase except for a couple of older releases on Game Pass. We haven’t seen anything from the Activision purchase, which might not complete until 2023 anyway. The pressure is on with Xbox Game Studios, and Xbox Game Studios are running silent.
It’s like the generation hasn’t even started. When it does, it’ll probably be overwhelming. God knows I’m struggling just with Elden Ring alone. But, in the mean time, give me a reason to shout about Xbox from the rafters. It’s deserved and I want to do it – just give me a reason.