Sebastian Jimenez

Microsoft's star show on X019 paints an attractive image for the future of Xbox

LLast year's X018 show was, in a word, psimo. There were many ads that amounted to almost nothing, a loss of time of two hours that is limited to the one Notable announcement of a couple more high profile studio acquisitions for Microsoft. It was a bit disconcerting that Microsoft felt the need to have a complete event when they clearly did not have the content to justify it.

Phil Spencer, the new Xbox boss, has been nothing if he doesn't respond to comments. He has explicitly admitted critics released for a long time on Xbox, and has promised to address them. In what has to be a dramatic change in the routine for a corporate big shot, it has actually fulfilled those promises. Xbox One hardware was criticized; we have the Xbox One S and Xbox One X; The state of exclusions and first part studies of Microsoft was criticized; Spencer ended up leading the purchase of half a dozen studies to make up for that. The efforts of Microsoft's PC games were vilified and rejected by PC players. Spencer addresses these issues by committing to a PC release for all Microsoft games, presenting a new store front that is much better than the train crash that is Microsoft Store, presenting Game Pass on the PC and also resuming support from Microsoft to Steam again.

Therefore, it is logical to think that X019, in response to criticisms launched against X018, will be better. I was not prepared for how much better, because in many ways, it feels like one of Microsoft's strongest exhibits in the last decade or so. In addressing the main complaints with X018, Spencer and the company have also addressed two very substantial problems that Xbox has had for a long time. Let's go to them in a short time. First, I want to talk about the program itself.

The show in s was, in a word, extremely, extremely good. It was well produced, had a good pace, did not have too many fillings or uncomfortable segments that only served to cause a great interest of the audience, and the focus was mainly on games and things related to games. And in reality there was also a lot of substantial material in those ads: Obsidian and Rare announced a new IP, the first one with Grounded, which looks like a lovely, smaller-scale survival game (word game), and the kind of game that is perfect for adding to the Game Pass library. Rare, on the other hand, had Everwild, which graphically looks impressive, taking signals from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In fact, we know much less about Everwild that we Grounded, but look amazing: it's exactly the kind of exclusive game ad that Microsoft needs to interest people in the purchase of the Xbox Scarlett.

Everwild

Then there were the other things: we have to see Age of Empires IV In the end! And it looks great. Graphically, it is impressive, and in terms of configuration, it seems to be returning to the medieval era, which, given that Age of Empires II it was the most popular game in the series (in fact, one of the most popular games forever), it makes sense to be evoking that. We received the announcement of Tell me why, a new Dontnod IP that, in what is an impressive coup d'etat for Microsoft, reach exclusively Xbox and PC (Xbox Game Studios is publishing it, so the chances of it reaching other platforms appear to be low). Microsoft managed to address its Japanese game deficiency problem Head on, with Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2, and every kingdom hearts PS4 collection, all confirmed for Xbox One, and as Game Pass games, date and date too! God Curse.

And then there was xCloud. At a time when Stadia seems to be sinking even before leaving, thanks to what seems to be a bad management of scope and expectations at the monumental level, Microsoft made it seem almost effortless. Launching next year (at least on PC and in beta version), use PS4 Y The Xbox One and Microsoft controllers already have more than 50 games confirmed for the service, at launch, which is more than the number of games that Stadia has managed to confirm in total, period.

On all fronts, Microsoft was firing on all cylinders. They had the games, they had the services and they painted what, in my opinion, was an extremely important image for them to paint: the image of a brand that is healthy and that has renewed the momentum, as well as the acceptance of all levels. of the organization. Those things are important, because continuous support for a console, even when it is failing, even when a new generation is just around the corner, is what often translates into an early impulse in the next generation. Just ask Sony to keep the PS3, releasing tons of awesome and exclusive games even in 2013, giving customers enough confidence in Sony to buy PS4 at launch in record numbers. Microsoft, by continuing to secure all these games and offers for Xbox One, when they could ignore that console and double the attempt to get Scarlett out of the door as hard as possible, in fact they are increasing consumer confidence and commitment to the brand and adding a sense of momentum, all of which ultimately should help Xbox get a much stronger start the next generation than they had this time.

It is also impressive how X019 showed that Microsoft addresses one of the most common critics that are formulated: its lack of games. In the past, this has been better demonstrated with its release schedule: consider, for example, that in 2019, your releases consisted of Crackdown 3 in February, then Gears 5 in September, and that's it. That is all they had. This is far from the games they have prepared for next year, such as Earth, Bleeding Edge, Psychonauts 2, Halo Infinite, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Wasteland 3, Minecraft Dungeons, Y Tell me why, at which time they are basically taking out an important game every two months. It is true that not all are exclusive, due to the previous commitments that the studies may have had before they were acquired, but it is a very important fact: Microsoft now has enough content to be able to achieve this type of launch cadence, and once their studies Once they have fulfilled the commitments they had before launch, their list of exclusives should increase greatly.

And, of course, I will be negligent if I don't note how happy I sit when addressing Microsoft, head on, the only problem that has marked the existence of Xbox in the last two decades more than anything: the lack of meaningful Japanese support. This is a problem that Phil Spencer has admitted several times in the past, and has talked about his desire to address it. We have seen that the problem is "solved" in the form of the main Japanese AAA games that also come to Xbox, but the smaller and more specific Japanese rate? That has continued to skip Xbox, in favor of alleged greener pastures on PlayStation and Nintendo. But the announcement of Yakuza that, despite all its prestige among the players, is still highly niche in the real world, it is a sign that that could also be changing (kingdom hearts it's just the icing on the cake), and it seems to indicate that in the future, we may not be surprised if Person or Dragon quest The game also came to Xbox.

The best part is that Microsoft is pushing for inclusion in Game Pass, because that shows me that they are trying to solve this problem in the long term, instead of just getting brownie points with some late ports here and now. Look, the reason why Japanese games often skip Xbox is because there is a common belief that there is no audience for them on the console; On the contrary, the reason there is no audience for them on the console is because there are no Japanese games on Xbox. Chicken and egg problem, right?

So here we are, with some of the best Japanese games on offer (Final Fantasy, Yakuza, Kingdom Hearts), all in Game Pass, to which most Xbox owners are already subscribed. Now, players who may have heard about these games but have been cautious to try them, play them and maybe many like them, enough that in the future they want to buy newer games in those series. Microsoft ends up avoiding the central problem, then, cultivating an audience on Xbox for Japanese games.

So yes, on all fronts, Microsoft was on fire yesterday. I can't think of anything bad to say right now. The warriors of the console and the fans of the brand will continue to throw nonsense and garbage, but they are still beyond help. For normal people who are fantastic in the middle, the fact that Xbox is moving forward in its game is exciting: a rising tide lifts all ships, after all.

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