Microsoft’s continued strategy for the future of the Xbox seems increasingly unclear. The question is whether the company is about to change its focus in gaming?
This fall, the next generation of consoles from Sony (Playstation 5) and Microsoft (Xbox Series X, as well as the simpler Series S (at the time of writing not officially confirmed)). Both machines will initially – I guess – be available just in time for the Black Friday sale (in early or latest mid-November). Playstation 5 is currently enjoying huge pre-sale hype, several long-awaited format-exclusive games are promised at launch and there will also be some form of backward compatibility with PS4. The Xbox Series X, like the Xbox One X, is again on paper the most powerful console in terms of specifications and Microsoft seems to offer a superior backward compatibility feature, which can stretch almost 20 years back in time, all the way to the first Xbox. What one, on the other hand not offers are games. Neither exclusive ones, as all games from Microsoft Studios themselves have been coming to both Xbox and PC for a long time, but at the time of writing not a single, confirmed, unique launch game as the drag patch Halo: Infinite greeted by much criticism for the presentation and also delayed until 2021. The big question is – What is Microsoft’s real strategy for? Xbox in the future and are you really in the game about the console players anymore? We speculate in this chronicle.
The Xbox 360 was a technically better machine than the PS3. The PS4 was a technically better machine than the Xbox One. Then came the Xbox One X upgrade and pushed for the PS4 Pro upgrade in performance, but Sony and Playstation have still dominated the market in Europe, the Nordics and parts of the world large with their format, only challenged by the Nintendo Switch, which sold huge amounts during the corona pandemic , while being the most technically modest machine.
Technology thus seems to have little effect on which format is the largest. Wants. to have the most muscle you build a monster gaming PC. So it seems to come down to the software or in other words: games.
Microsoft has long abandoned the concept of “completely Xbox-exclusive titles”. HaloAnd Forza Horizonseries, for example, is still consoleexclusive on Xbox, but both are available on PC and so it will remain with Microsoft Studios upcoming games. At the same time, Microsoft is investing in giving us the technically “best” console experience, or at least the most maximized performance. This is said to be reflected in the price. Xbox Series X has the potential to run multi-platform titles from, for example Ubisoft and EA with the best graphics, which has often – but not always – been the case this generation as well. But is that enough?
At the same time, Microsoft has not clarified why we must have an Xbox, especially if we already have a gaming PC. There are high hopes Project xCloud, which comes this fall as part of the brilliant concept Game Pass. That’s what it’s about streaming of games – a segment of Google’s dead-on-arrival venture Stadia not directly impressed with – and which of course opens up a whole world of gaming experiences that are not limited by your own hardware (though by most other factors). These games allow you to stream to a phone (seems to be just Android at present because of Apple’s bullying behavior) or any computer / tablet / media box – it does not require an Xbox.
And it can definitely be a giant thing. Microsoft has the background and the knowledge to be true Netflix for games – with a large selection, which is constantly changing, and which offers you lots of good and current games at a reasonable monthly cost.
But, the natural question then becomes – what are we going to do with the Xbox, what is its function in the market? Because even if it – in theory – can push a little more resolution and a few frames extra per second, it is a whole world of unique, really good game titles you get if you instead choose Playstation (5) and Switch (and its successors, which hopefully become backward compatible). Performance may be great, but as you know, no console wars win. For those who own a PC that can handle games, the choice will also be a no-brainer.
And for those users who completely lack a console and gaming computer but still want to enter the game, there is a risk that mobile gaming will be that entrance. And perhaps some of Microsoft’s titles attract so much that you choose the Xbox over the PS5 / Nintendo – even though the range and the highest rated games in recent years have been for just the two formats. It’s a possible scenario, that single new gamers and hard-core gamers (who will own all formats) choose Xbox Series X (too). But it feels like a very small and niche group to carry an entire format.
What’s up, Doc?
Microsoft does not seem to have an obvious strategy for the Xbox, no tangible schedule for when the glory of Series X’s amazing performance will shine. There is talk of “supporting Xbox One X (which is no longer manufactured) for several more years ”, so no great generational hope is to be expected in the near future. And even though we are happy for the next Halo, Forza and Fable reboot, these are now 1-3 years ahead. It is an eternity in a technical context and no ordinary user learns to “wait” for, possibly supplement with. And in three years, the “monster performance” of the Xbox Series X is already old…
Then the price must also be weighed in – something like this is not confirmed but a leak claims today that it can be 699 dollars, which with Swedish VAT and chemicals tax can be somewhere around 6,995 – 7,500 SEK, a huge price tag on a console. But we still hope and believe in a price just under SEK 6,000.
As more and more entertainment moves towards services instead of ownership (Disney +, Spotify etc) so game streaming and directory rentals are probably the way to go, long term. But that future is a bit in, the technology is still too bad and there are too many bottlenecks in the chain. We at senses are not entirely positive to this development, as ownership is a guarantee that companies’ whims and censorship trends are avoided. At the same time, we are realists and realize that it is about accessibility for many consumers and big money for those who sell the services, because you as a consumer become an “eternal” customer who can never quit, because you then no longer have access to anything (you does not own anything). Large consumers of streaming claim that the deal is profitable – for the cost of two or three games per year, you get access to hundreds. But at the same time there are restrictions both in supply (which you noticed on all the different TV services you have to subscribe to at the same time now) and availability (games disappear after a while, if you have not had time to play them you have to buy them – after months of subscription) . So, as with much else, this is a double-edged sword.
The only question is where and how the next Xbox (Series X / S) will be a must in that equation? Why offer the best performance when there will be nothing unique that pushes and exploits this?
We look forward to receiving our test copy to the editors soon and giving you the answer to your question.
What do you think? And what do you think about the next generation of consoles and the role of the Xbox in future gaming?
Feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments field below.