And no, I’m not exaggerating. Microsoft have once again let gamers down with their underwhelming press conference at E3 2018. But that didn’t stop Phil Spencer weaving some lexical magic to try and convince us that ZERO new IPs was a good thing. Of course, the cold corpses of long dead Xbox franchises such as Halo and Gears of War were rolled out in an attempt to prove they’ve got something to show after years of being in the business.
OK, that was harsh. Gears of War 4 was actually really good, the revamp the series needed. But aside from that, it’s been so long since we’ve had a brand new triple-A IP to get excited about. So long that the reasons for owning an Xbox are slowly dwindling. Instead, it seems that Phil Spencer’s single-minded focus at the conference was, instead of attracting new fans, to try and save the fans they have by promising a lot for the future and hyping up what little they have to show at present. But, as a former Xbox-fanboy myself, I can tell you that the grass is looking particularly green on the other side these days. Especially since Sony is about to go into their conference with an incredible line up of exclusives to showcase (plus all of the titles they’ve got under their belt already). Afterwards, Microsoft’s showing will look comparatively weak.
Now, I know it seems like I’m relishing in this fact. But I was really looking forward to being excited by Xbox again. Two consoles with a strong line-up of games is always better than one, but Microsoft isn’t pulling their weight. As their conference so painfully demonstrated. Halo Infinite, Gears of War 5, Forza Horizon 4 and Crackdown 3. We all knew these were going to be headline acts. Even if they weren’t confirmed beforehand. The main chunk of the excitement came from games that weren’t exclusively theirs. Yes, the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer was incredible. Yes, it was cool to hear that more Japanese games will be coming to Xbox. But what I wanted to see was innovation. And I didn’t see it. No matter how Phil Spencer sugar coats it.
But … I still felt like there was a glimmer of hope. Microsoft also announced that they had brought four studios into the fold to work with them on future titles. With these acquisitions, chief among them Ninja Theory (the developers behind Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice), could this be Microsoft playing the long game? We also heard news of their new first-party team The Initiative. At its helm is the former head of Crystal Dynamics, Darrell Gallagher, responsible for Tomb Raider (2013) and Deux Ex: Human Revolution. Both decent games in their own right, but how long until we see this kind of quality expressed in a brand new Xbox franchise? And seeing as we’re already a fair few years into this generation, the fruition of their labors may not be seen until the next cycle begins. It could be too little too late then, really.
Snap back to the present, and even with the knowledge that one day the Xbox could have the exclusives to once again contend with the PS4, that doesn’t really help things now. With no new IPs on the horizon, the PS4 will continue being the runaway success of the generation, and Microsoft will keep hemorrhaging its loyal fans until they can do something about it. So no, Microsoft have not ‘won’ E3 2018. Not by a very long stretch. Not when the same complaints that we’ve repeated for the past 4 years are still just as relevant now. Give us games – then we’ll talk.
What were your thoughts on the Microsoft conference at E3 2018? Let us know in the comments section below.