Microsoft's surprising (and random) Xbox Series X announcement shows refreshing confidence
Microsoft used to keep development pretty close to its chest, strewn through a lens of PR and over-thought marketing. Xbox seems to have turned a corner into something different.
Randomly and without a huge amount of fanfare, Microsoft today revealed that the Xbox Series X will be 12TF, confirming our previous leak from last year. In a written address to Xbox fans, Microsoft gaming lead Phil Spencer closed out the piece on the Xbox Series X specs by expressing the desire to be transparent with fans.
Microsoft is a company that generally has been a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to relaying information to the public, although they have gotten a lot better at it in recent years, taking a more open posture. Not only is it a sign of the times, but it's also encouraging that Microsoft seems to be getting with the times.
The Xbox Series X announcement cycle has been a bit of an odd one and stands at stark contrast to the way the Xbox One was revealed back in 2013. The Xbox One was announced with a slew of features that pitched it as an entertainment center, rather than game console, in an address that felt more like it was aimed at shareholders rather than customers. Today's Xbox has very different ideas.
The Game Awards is rapidly becoming one of the most important dates in the video game year, with more and more developers and publishers using it as a way to showcase upcoming games alongside the show's flagship awards.
Microsoft used The Game Awards to show off the Xbox Series X's design, out of the blue, completely without warning and far ahead of Sony's PlayStation 5, which has yet to be glimpsed.
Microsoft has also been forthcoming with the Xbox's specs in recent years, allowing Digital Foundry to do a full deep dive on the Xbox One X, and now revealing details about the Xbox Series X in a blog post, rather than waiting for a more marketable event to piggyback on. The approach comes across as less "forced" to me, and speaks to the confidence Microsoft has in its product here.
The "Direct" approach
This shift can also be seen in other companies, most notably Nintendo, whose "Nintendo Direct" YouTube deep-dives have become almost like mini-events of their own. The recent Pokemon and Animal Crossing Nintendo Direct shows seem to capture the imagination of the game's fans in a way that some of the more old-fashioned showcases simply don't.
Being upfront and to-the-point is something Microsoft often struggles with. PR-heavy language and overthought marketing has often typified Microsoft's showcases, which in my opinion, often comes across as lacking in confidence. I feel like some of Microsoft's Inside Xbox shows have fallen a little on the side of being "overproduced," in some ways, with tons of filler. Although there are signs Microsoft is improving its approach here too.
Microsoft and Ninja Theory unveiled Project Mara randomly via a video deep-dive, much like Nintendo's direct-style showcases. Microsoft has also been doing some developer diaries for the upcoming Minecraft Dungeons in much the same way.
Let's have more of this
The fact Microsoft is being so upfront about the Xbox Series X exudes a level of confidence that simply wasn't there for the original Xbox One launch back in 2013, where the company seemed to spend more time apologizing for it than anything else. The direct-to-customers approach with increased transparency helps us get an idea about what's on the horizon, without having to wait for E3, The Game Awards, or specific shows to hear information.
I'd love to see this approach extend to games, which are now abundant within Microsoft's 15-studio-strong stable at Xbox Game Studios. Why wait for an overload of information at a single time in the year? It would make far more sense to drip feed us information as soon as it's ready, building faith in the platform over time, alongside the Xbox Game Pass subscription that relies on rolling monthly payments.
Either way, let's have some more of this transparency across the board Microsoft. Yeah?
Xbox Series X/S
- Xbox Series X: Everything we know
- Best games coming to Xbox Series X/S
- List of Xbox Series X specs
- What is the Xbox Series X release date?
- How much does Xbox Series X cost?
- Why you can't preorder Xbox Series X yet
- Best Xbox Series X Headsets
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!