Microsoft recently wrapped up its E3 2017 showcase, outlining the biggest additions to the Xbox One lineup for the upcoming year and beyond. Despite the debut of Xbox One X, its new flagship console, the games took up the majority of the company's big E3 event last Sunday.
This year's event was crucial for Microsoft, with the need to kick-start the foundations for a new high-end console. As a piece of hardware tailored to enthusiasts, Microsoft's approach was on watch over the course of the show.
One console fits all
As with any hardware announcement, to push a premium console you need a premium library of games. Microsoft wasn't reluctant to let software dominate its E3 presence, with 42 upcoming titles showcased over the course of a nearly two-hour long show. From the opening of its press conference, Microsoft continually accentuated the sheer diversity in its E3 2017 offerings for Xbox One. Touting the "largest and most diverse games lineup" in the platform's history, the company continued to hammer home software offerings through back-to-back trailers.
As with any hardware announcement, to push a premium console you need a premium library of games.
I'll give credit where credit is due - Microsoft hosted one of its most game-centric press conferences in the history of the Xbox platform. There were games spanning all major genres. There were games from all corners of the globe. Games even varied hugely in scale, with exclusives from Microsoft's in-house teams, third-party publishers, and independent developers. From the unveiling of 4A Games' Metro: Exodus to the adorable Super Lucky's Tale, Microsoft managed to cover most its bases.
Microsoft hosted one of its most game-centric press conferences in the history of the Xbox platform.
Ultimately, Microsoft showed off some outstanding titles, proving a vast and diverse lineup of games to establish its new console. Between the games and enhancements coming to Xbox One X, it's a shaping up to be a compelling device for gaming enthusiasts, despite a somewhat controversial price point. However, even with its assortment of games on stage, there's a void that still remains within Microsoft's current lineup.
Changing the attitude to first-party
While a range of diverse games was welcome, this year's E3 showcase also managed to highlight one of the Xbox One's biggest problems. At this point, it's increasingly clear that Microsoft has a problem with its image as a first-party publisher.
Microsoft's first-party efforts weren't in the best place ahead of E3, following the shutdown of numerous "Microsoft Studios" developers and big-budget projects. It feels like the company's lineup has been misguided for some time, with only its largest pre-established franchises truly thriving. This past week only solidified those concerns, through both the titles showcased and their on-stage presentations.
Today, the Xbox One lineup in its current state looks rather weak. Although Xbox One owners will get a slew of "launch exclusives" from external studios later this year, "Forza Motorsport 7" and "Crackdown 3" are the only two major first-party titles. There wasn't even a tease of games to come, leaving consumers with little of a roadmap for projects expected in 2018.
Microsoft has a problem with its image as a first-party publisher.
It's also hard not to criticize how Microsoft went about presenting its first-party lineup, in a move that pushed its upcoming blockbusters onto the sideline. Relying almost entirely on third-party offerings, the first-party releases were almost pushed into the background with their short trailers and demos. A fair number of third-party games were given substantially more screen time, with Anthem, Assassin's Creed: Origins and Metro: Exodus each receiving their own in-depth on-stage demos.
While the Xbox 360 gained a reputation as the platform for first-person shooters back in the day, Microsoft continues to diversify the lineup going forward. This shift was most noticeable this year, with both Halo and Gears of War, entirely absent from E3 – a first in the console's history.
Xbox head Phil Spencer previously addressed its first-party strategy going forward, detailing a movement to strip down to the "core" of Xbox lineup. Learning from previous mistakes, Microsoft is planning to rework the Xbox One catalog and avoid announcing projects still in the early stages of development. However, Microsoft now walks a fine line between approaching announcements with caution and alienating its dedicated fan base.
If E3 proved anything, it's that there's a huge number of interesting games on the horizon for Xbox One. With dozens of developers already on board to leverage the power of the Xbox One X, the console should be backed by a strong lineup of games when it drops this fall. However, with such a reliance on cross-platform games and timed-exclusives, the current promises of the platform struggle to stand out to the average consumer.
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