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Microsoft looks back at Xbox in 2018, promises new reveals for 2019

Microsoft had a successful year in 2018 — especially when it comes to the Xbox One X — but the lack of compelling exclusives was felt throughout the year. While the competition recieved titles like God of War, Spider-Man, and Super Mario Odyssey, the Xbox One only managed to hit the 92 Metacritic mark with Forza Horizon 4.

Despite this, today Microsoft discussed on Xbox Wire (opens in new tab) what its gaming division accomplished in 2018. You can read some of the highlights below.

  • In 2018, the company added 116 additional high-quality titles to the Xbox Game Pass catalog across genres. There are currently have more than 65 partners — up from 25 at our launch in June 2017. In addition, 17 titles launched the same day as their global release into Xbox Game Pass, including Sea of Thieves, Laser League, State of Decay 2, Warhammer 2: Vermintide, Graveyard Keeper, Sinner: Sacrifice for Redemption, and Forza Horizon 4.
  • Members increased their total time gaming on Xbox by almost twenty percent more than before and are also increasing their total number of games played by almost forty more, including titles outside the Xbox Game Pass catalog.
  • In 2018, seven new first-party studios joined the Xbox roster, including the acquisition of Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, Compulsion Games, InXile Entertainment, and Obsidian Entertainment, along with the creation of The Initiative.
  • Microsoft added over a hundred new titles to backward compatibility, bringing the full catalog to over 550 games, 57 of which are Xbox One X Enhanced.
  • Forza Horizon 4 was the only Microsoft exclusive to score about a 90 on Metacritic and also broke a lot of sales records for the company.
  • Sea of Thieves became the fastest-selling new Microsoft franchise of this generation.
  • ID@Xbox released their thousandth game.
  • Xbox One got cross-play with Nintendo Switch and other systems on a variety of games including Fortnite.
  • In January 2018, Mixer announced ten million monthly active users only to see that number double to more than twenty million monthly active users six months later.
  • X018 took place in Mexico City and garnered over twenty million viewers.

However, 2019 should be an even better year for the company because compelling exclusives like Gears 5. Hopefully other experiences like Crackdown 3 will like up to expectations as well. You can read some of the highlights below.

  • Crackdown 3, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Gears 5, Gears Pop!, and Minecraft: Dungeons all slated to launch this year.
  • Microsoft will reveal what many of its studios are working on this year, probably at E3 2019.
  • Sea of Thieves will get even more expansions like "The Arena" in 2019.
  • ID@Xbox will continue to grow and release even more titles.
  • Lastly, games like Anthem, Devil May Cry 5, Kingdom Hearts 3, Metro Exodus, Mortal Kombat 11, Resident Evil 2, The Division 2, and more should launch on Xbox One with Xbox One X support.

Last year Microsoft proved that it could lead when it came to hardware with the Xbox One X. Hopefully this year we'll see a lot of compelling exclusives that are on the horizon. Hopefully new games from Ninja Theory and other will be revealed in the coming months. That's the only place where the Xbox ecosystem lacks at the moment.

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

13 Comments
  • Don't get what the big deal with exclusives is, I'd honestly much rather see more cross play titles being released and supported.
  • It's usually just Sony Sheep that make a massive deal out of it. Yes of course they matter but it's not the only thing that matters. Data shows many of them barely finish their single player exclusives and with no multiplayer there is little to no replay value in single player exclusives anyway. Stats also show that multiplat games including ones released years ago continue to consistently outsell exclusives. Games like GTA, COD, RDR2 are the top sellers.
  • Oh, shut up with that. When the PS4 came out with better hardware than the XB1, it was all "it's about the games, not the pixels." Now that Microsoft has the horsepower and Sony has the content lead, it's "exclusives are for fanboys." You are being the same kind of fanboy. Replay value isn't the only thing a game needs. There's something to be said for having a game that you can buy for $60, enjoy a great product for a couple of weeks, then get $30 back out of. Of course multiplatform games outsell exclusives. They generally come from larger companies with larger marketing budgets and have longer-standing franchises with more familiarity, partially because of the value in being able to compare my play style on Xbox to my dad's on PC (which we did with Black Ops 2). That people are seriously arguing against content is laughable fanboyism. People cheered Microsoft added studios for exclusives, but you're REALLY going to keep arguing that having no content isn't an issue???
  • @Simon
    Exclusives often is a sign that shows how much a console maker is investing into making games for their customers. It doesn't have much to do with cross play.
    If a console maker is investing to make games it's a good thing for the gamers owning that console. Some MS/XB fanboys always downplay that because the company they worship seem to invest a lot less into making games for them this generation. Instead of asking or wanting more games they downplay exclusives. I wouldn't call these clowns "gamers". I would just call them company fanboys who prefer doing damage control than wanting more games. These are the same people who hype Forza, Gears or Halo even though they happen to be "console exclusives".
    ofc if in 3 years MS has more "console exclusives" these same company slaves will be singing the glory of "having more console exclusives".
  • The main benefit to exclusives is it's a reason to buy a system over another one, if one console runs a, b, and c but then another console runs a, b, c, and d as a person deciding which system they want to spend their money on it's going to be console 2. Especially for those who can only afford one system. I do realise that obviously there are a lot more factors than this but I am looking at it from an average consumers point of view, not a hardcore gamer, or even just a person who has been around consoles a while. Yes cross play is pretty incredible, but it needs to be supported, and even when it is all consumers do is complain about it incessantly (GoW4 cross play between PC and Xbox, the amount of people on the GoW4 forums on console that complain about PC players and actively turn off the function is absolutely staggering). Honestly, I think if you actually look at sales data cross play is probably pretty low on the list of things that soccer mums are buying their kids a console for Christmas for, it's probably more likely to be Spider-Man.
  • It's about a selling point for a platform. If all things are equal on content, why go anywhere BUT PC< where online play is free and there is better support for hardware? Especially as Xbox is further embedded into W10, why would I get an Xbox over a PC when it comes with endless compromises on hardware quality?
  • I played quite a bit less in 2018 & let my Gold expire. Was kind of disappointed with Tomb Raider 3. Hoping Ori 2 is released soon & is worthwhile. Waiting on price drops for Strange Brigade & RDR2. Nothing else really looks interesting to me.
  • "Sea of Thieves became the fastest-selling new franchise of this generation."
    Err Asher Madan, this is what it says: "fastest-selling new Xbox IP of the generation".
    Please copy-paste properly. Thank you.
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Honestly, imo this was an horrible year for XB. I would say it's even worrying for gaming.
    XB1 had what 3 console exclusives this year?
    The yearly forza.
    SoT which had SO much hype for years and ended up being an empty incomplete game that only really have repetitive randomly generated fetch quest where you grind hours just for some cosmetic items...
    SoD 2 was the other game and it had so many bugs...
    Both these games got really poor reviews from critics. I'm not a fan of these renting services. Services like game pass or PS Now. For me, something like game pass will only decrease the quality of games and encourage GaaS model that MS seems to be crazy about. MS bought some new studios. Now while some of these were already making Playground Games and Undead Lab were already making console exclusives for MS, it's good that they created their own studio "The Initiative".
    In terms of numbers of studios we are at more or less number as the beginning of XB1 generation in 2013. The question and hope is that these studios will have the creative freedom to do what they want and not just make unending sequels (like turn 10, coalition and i343). When MS says it "wants" a SoD 3 for me it doesn't really sound good, but we'll see. Wish these studios all the best... 2019? I can't wait for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. I'm sure it'll be amazing. I'm hoping for AOE IV but that's really looks unlikely. I've lost almost all interest in crackdown 3 after watching the last few videos of the multiplayer...
  • Game Pass is great and has already saved me hundreds of dollars. What's wrong with these services when you can still buy games outright?
  • I can understand why people wouldn't be sold on streaming/rent services as products come and go (although VERY few games have been removed from Game Pass) but I personally am all for it. I think anyone that has a Netflix account should be able to see the benefits of game pass (don't know the full details of PS Now so can't comment on its quality) You are getting access to products which cost significantly more than films and TV shows so the value factor is a non issue. In fact even if you only play and finish one game a month, price wise the system would pay for itself (in my opinion).
  • @Darkness690
    I'm looking at the bigger picture.
    If you want to talk value. Value is very subjective.
    It's an option. If it's good or bad that's also subjective.
    When I see most of the games in the service are old arcade games. You got to remember that it cost 10 bucks per month. Do I think paying 10 bucks to rent 2-3 old arcade games is worth it? Personally I don't think it is. I play games that I want to play, I don't like a service to tell me what to play.
    I've had PS+ since 2013. So I have around 400 games. That's more than what game pass offers and I hardly played any of these in the last 1-2 years. That's because I have my own library of games and backlog that I want to play. This is not like a TV serie or movies? I play and finish only around 30-35 games a year. So that's why I say I play games I want to play, I don't want a service to tell me or make me play the games it has.
    But that's my reply on value part...
    -----------------------------------------------
    Anyway to answer your question about what's "wrong". I would say two things.
    1) Quality over quantity.
    Didn't you notice the main selling point is always quantity? Look at the ads. Its always about the number of games. We have slogan like: Over 100 games for a low price of only 10 bucks.
    That is really stupid because average gamers don't really play 100 games in 1 month.
    We've seen recently with an unfinished empty game (SoT) and a broken game (SoD2) launching way too early. The priority seems to be less about releasing a quality product and more about releasing games to fill the catalogue of games.
    2) Gaas.
    Looking at the big picture, we got to look at how big budget games will make money if everyone is renting them for 10 bucks at launch. How will critically successful games like the witcher 3, Horizon ZD, God of war or Spider-man do in a system like this? They will probably all lose money because they would receive a part of the 10 bucks instead of what they would get for a full price game.
    So how would they survive and keep being profitable?
    Well the answer is simple. Gaas. Keep selling more content as a service. Progression is much slower on the forza unless you buy the VIP pass. Games with microtransactions...
    It would be either that or they'll need to seriously cut the cost of making the game. Either way it I would say it will decreased the overall quality of the game. For me adding microtransactions or having less resources to make a game only results in a product with lesser quality. I just hope Sony doesn't copy MS with this, it would be disastrous for the industry imo.
  • After watching all the recent keynotes from CES, Microsoft was only mentioned once and that was to indicate that Samsung partnered with them on the galaxy book 2. Google and Amazon on the other hand was almost mentioned every other sentence. It was not mentioned what O/S the. Notebook Odyssey runs on. Sure, given the ubiquitous nature of Windows it's given that it runs on Windows 10. But it speaks volumes that just both cpu and gpu were mentioned but not the o/s. Microsoft seriously needs to inject more resources into Cortana, rehire the QA division and drastically improve tablet mode. I just hope the bean counters don't restrict the Surface division.
  • I wish they would focus on the TV entertainment aspect of the XBOX. Like the OneGuide keep crashing. Applications don't start and tell you try again in a minute. Give me an event viewer. Let me see the logs. I am accustomed to Windows so let me try to troubleshoot instead of showing me generic error messages for stupid people.