Does Microsoft Need A System Seller?

  • With their new subscription service coming up, does MS need a system seller to stay relevant? They don't have that many exclusives because they have pretty much closed most of their studios. They pretty much only got Sea of Thieves, Gears of War, Halo, Crackdown and Forza going for them atm. So do they need to change their model or do they need a system seller?

  • Not as long as they've got Scalebound

  • They don't need anything, they're still selling well.

  • Yeah, they're selling okay. Sure they're not on top this generation but it's not like they're at Wii U levels.
    Actually though I think their system sellers are that subscription service and the backward compatability. It just might not be a great reason for everyone, but for others it's the best things they could do.

  • Banned

    The Xbox brand is becoming increasinly irrelevant in the gaming industry and not even Microsoft seem to care.
    Think about it. When was the last time people really went nuts for something related to Xbox? All of their core franchises (Halo, Gears, Forza) are on a downward trend and their last few attempts at new IPs (ReCore, Quantum Break, Sea of Thieves, Lucky's Tale, Ryse) can be considered flops at best, with only a handful of exceptions (Ori, Cuphead), but nothing really remotely approachong the success and excitement that their competitors have achieved with their games.

    Unless Microsoft makes some very big, very fast changes, the Xbox is going to continue to be a distant third.

  • Banned

    They seem to be doing pretty OK this generation without a single system seller, which I don't get. The biggest series they had last generation (Halo and Gears of War) are now only shells of what they used to be, they don't seem to know what they're doing anymore which is sad.

  • @el-shmiablo I think you're over exaggerating. The Xbox Brand is doing fine, their first party studios are the ones that are becoming irrelevant except Forza. Xbone has sold 35 million + and have been on top of NPDs for a couple months.

  • The question would be, to do what? to compete for the top spot in the industry and have a majority of the marketshare, then yes they probably would need system sellers for that.

    As they are xbox is doing fine, clearly not as well as PS, but they don't necessarily need to do as well to have the success they are looking for.

    For my personal perspective xbox is an irrelevant brand that has very little of interest for me, in terms of games this generation it has had nothing of interest and the interesting games from the 360 also started to diminish towards the end of that generation, to me that indicates a clear departure from what appealed to me about the 360 at first, which is a factor for a fraction of the gaming market, but I think it is a faction they are content not having.

  • I concur the Xbox is doing fine and are currently trying to explore avenues to make themselves an appealing option to potential customers, but I think their long term focus for the last little while is on the next generation.

    This is a personal feeling, but I feel with some of the real consumer friendly decisions they've made (GamePass, Backward Compatibility for both 360 and OG, cross-platform play, etc.), they are trying to build as much good will as they can with their current install base, then investing in projects they feel will make them the premiere destination from a hardware point of view for the next Xbox. But they NEED Xbox exclusives, plain and simple. While a neat concept, Play Anywhere takes away a reason to purchase a console unless there are people who are absolutely averse to gaming on PC.

    All in all, I hope they do well, and they have a couple of things I'm personally interested in, but PS4 has most things going in its favor and for me, and me alone, I don't see how Xbox could challenge for my leisure time at the moment without my friends being involved (Which is very, VERY rare nowadays).

  • @mcgeezaks Them fucking up Scalebound did not help either.

  • The tricky thing for them is that they have way less first-party studios than Sony to make those exclusives for them. And building a AAA studio from the ground up takes many, many years. You don't build a team by throwing 300 people together from one day to the next. These are long-term endeavors and if they had been going this route we would have heard about it.

    So what else can they do?

    Acquire existing studios, like they've done with Rare, or contract them for specific games, like they've done with Platinum. Just because it hasn't always worked out in the past doesn't mean it can't work in the future, assuming they've learned from what went wrong.

    Or you know, just buy EA and be done with it.

  • With how well-received Forza Horizon 3 was in 2016, I think we're going to see Forza Horizon 4 pushed really hard this year as a big exclusive.

    I'm also expecting a Halo 6 announcement with some sort of innovative change, maybe a Battle Royale mode, or a Big, Big Team Battle.

    One of MS's big pushes has been having the Xbox as a service, pushing the eco-system rather than the software. I think we'll continue to see this at E3, with another big Backwards Compatibility announcement at the very least.

  • Unfortunately, much if the success today is based on "what do your mates own", it's a large part of what made the 360.

    Microsoft can't possibly pull this generation back. Getting back on top would require one of two things: An early Xbox Two release, with clear next gen specs, plus a killer multiplayer exclusive, or a next gen console with a Wii-like" gimmick.

    Unfortunately success these days really does fall to capturing that social market...

  • Forza is personally for me, the only reason to play MS games

  • Do they need a system seller? No. For the foreseeable future, they'll be perfectly fine without any steller 'exclusives'. I also don't think play anywhere is hurting them all that much monetarily. The amount of people who will buy every platform for the exclusives is pretty miniscule, so the loss in console sales is probably largely offset by those buying their games on PC. I think it's more important they start laying the groundwork for a ton of great first-party games next 'generation'. One good game probably won't help them all that much, but if they manage to unleash a barrage of good games year after year, that'll surely bring them back to prominence.

  • Banned

    @cocage Definitely not, they seem to be canceling promising titles left and right this gen.

  • Banned

    @mcgeezaks This is the difference between Microsoft and Sony. Sony understands that, even if a game doesn't turn out particularly amazing, it is far better to bite the bullet and push forward, because cancelling a game, especially after having showed it off multiple times, will only serve to damage their mindshare with gamers.
    Scalebound, even if it had only sold a milion units, even if it had been a 6.0 metacritic bomb, should have come out.

  • Judging by Microsoft's actions, they don't need - or want - a system seller in the traditional sense. That isn’t to say they don’t need, or strive to publish titles that meet that sort of quality threshold. They obviously do; it’s an inherent need of a company in the video game industry.

    As it stands, their aim is seemingly twofold. One is to allow as many people as realistically possible to enjoy their products. Play Anywhere, Xbox Game Pass are two initiatives pushing this goal – and there are more rumored to come, Digital Rentals and a Cloud Based Streaming service. By offering different pricing structures, and ways to attain their games, they hope to gain as many customers as possible by tearing down different barriers to entry.

    Two, is to create as inviting of a console platform as possible. This entails not only games traditionally seen as “console exclusive”, but an ecosystem that you can have confidence in moving forward. Backwards Compatibility is a pretty large initiative in this endeavor, especially in an ever increasing digital age. The ability to drag XBOX and 360 games to the X1 is a nice feature that will only compound when all of those games, including the vast majority of X1 games are able to be moved to the next Xbox. But a platform isn’t just an ecosystem to play exclusive or old games – its features are an extension of that ecosystem. They work around the clock on improving everything regarding the system. Additionally they even offer EA Access, and Xbox Game Preview – programs not offered by console competitors.

    It’s important to state that strategy is fluid, and Microsoft’s current plans for managing this generation are not necessarily an indication of how the plan to handle future generations. That depends on how everything they’re currently doing performs, and is received by consumers. Phil Spencer is a bright guy, and everything is always under consideration, but he has a vision for what he wants Xbox to become and I think he'll be successful.

    I've tackled some various subjects regarding the state of Xbox below, and will be putting them behind spoilers so there isn't a massive wall of text here. The formatting isn't perfect, but it's the best way I could make this work on the forum.

    "Why do I need an Xbox?"

    Stemming from this strategy, a popular refrain is “Why do I need an Xbox?” People enjoy video games in lots of different ways, and access them on all kinds of platforms. Some are more casual, and play games on mobile devices, tablets, or laptops – but let’s set that aside, and focus on the grander side of video game centric platforms. There are those who play on one console, multiple consoles, or a console and a PC.
    Today, if you have a high capability gaming PC, you don’t necessarily need an Xbox to enjoy the majority of their publishing output – and that is not a concern for them. They would rather eliminate a barrier that could prevent you from playing their titles, than create one by forcing an, at best, low profit console unit on you.
    Then there are those who enjoy games strictly on console – where the “exclusivity” of those games still exists. If someone is picking purely between an X1, Switch, or PS4; a games presence on Windows Store or Steam has no impact on the nature of its exclusivity on the console level. For these consumers, everything from software to console features are relevant to their console of choice – which means there could be any number of reasons to own an Xbox.

    The Early Days of the Xbox One

    Current generation Microsoft titles are widely viewed by critics as the worst of the big three hardware manufacturers. Comparing console exclusive titles does little for me, so let’s just dive right in and tackle their current output, and some of the stigmas attached to them – which is what Microsoft can control, and what this thread is really about.
    In the interest of time, I’ll try and breeze through the early days of the Xbox One. The critical reaction to its unveiling at E3 2013 created a massive hole that Microsoft is still trying to emerge from. In spite of this, they had a pretty wide and varied list of titles planned for the platform. Below, Black Tusk Studios Untitled Game, Crimson Dragon, D4, Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, Halo 5, Killer Instinct, Project Spark, Quantum Break, Ryse, and Sunset Overdrive represented a pretty solid games lineup. Less than a month later the man in charge of this fiasco, Don Mattrick, left the company leaving Microsoft in a vulnerable state moving into the new generation.
    In retrospect, 2014 is the year we can point to a lot of events that have left Xbox in its current state. In January, Microsoft Studios acquires the Gears of War IP from Epic and given to their internal Black Tusk Studios – who was previously working on a new IP. The status of this project (seemingly a spy-shooter) was tabled for the time being, and it is unknown what state it is in. In March, Phil Spencer ends up taking the reigns as head of Xbox – a promotion from his role as Head of Microsoft Studios. With any shift in management comes a different approach, one no doubt different than what Don Mattrick had envisioned. Around this time, there is speculation that the Xbox team was working with a smaller budget.
    This brings us to E3 2014, which at the time featured four exciting new titles, but in retrospect can be pointed to when explaining the current state of Xbox’s first party. Of these four games, only one is currently scheduled to be released – with the other three being terminated.

    The Fate of Xbox's E3 2014 Big Debuts

    Phantom Dust was unveiled through a CG trailer – which the developers, Darkside Games, were shocked to see as they had no hand in producing it. Eventually Microsoft increased the scope of the game they desired from Darkside, but were unwilling to match this enhanced product with further funding. This led to not only the cancellation of Phantom Dust in early 2015, but the closure of Darkside. The leaked gameplay that would later surface showed the trailer was pretty faithful to the game in development, but why was it needed at the time?
    Fable Legends had already been announced in 2013, but gameplay wasn’t revealed until the E3 conference in 2014. This new Fable title was a twist on the Hero/Villain dichotomy present in the series, and a shift to PvP gameplay. The game would enter into beta later in 2014, but would never make it past that. In March 2016, Microsoft announced they would be shuttering Lionhead Studios and cancelling Fable Legends. Once viewed as a pillar of Microsoft’s gaming efforts, Fable as a franchise was seemingly put on ice.
    Scalebound, a long time dream of Hideki Kamiya’s and an Action RPG to be developed by Platinum Games was announced with a CG trailer. It was an effort to have a Japanese developer involved with the platform, a perceived weakness of Xbox, and was applauded. It wouldn’t resurface until Gamescom 2015 where four-player co-op was shown. It’s next, and last appearance was E3 2016 – where the on stage gameplay demo was very unimpressive. It was then delayed out of 2016 and ultimately revealed as cancelled in January 2017.
    Crackdown 3 is a title helmed by no less than four different studios, has seen multiple delays out of 2016 and 2017, and is the last title standing from this group. It was originally supposed to release with its multiplayer first, then delayed to include the campaign, and then delayed out of its November 7, 2017 release date where it hoped to be paired with customers buying the new Xbox One X. Word is the game is receiving more polish, and is in a good state.

    "Halo, Gears, Forza" and the State of Microsoft's IP

    Halo, Gears, and Forza are not going anywhere – and that’s ok. Having flagship series’ should not be viewed as a problem, but there is a challenge in keeping the IP fresh. Halo is the most identifiable franchise that Microsoft owns, and boasts some of the most famous multiplayer in modern gaming. They purchased the rights to Gears of War from Epic and even transformed a studio so that they would be able to handle it. Both 343 and The Coalition are large enough to work on projects not only within their own franchises, but to possibly assist other developers working on Microsoft properties. Turn 10 steadily produces top of the line racing games with Forza, and its strong brand identity has even allowed a spin off series to achieve great heights as well. Forza Horizon is something Microsoft needs to look at with regards to Halo and Gears moving forward - and they reportedly are.
    Microsoft has a wide library of other IP, will any of them be dredged back up for new titles – and in what way? They’ve generally been disinterested in making remakes and collections, so anything to come will probably be a reinvention. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a crazy collection of improved titles, and currently undergoing a reworking to vastly improve its performance – that entire package is a pretty crazy value. Rare Replay is similar, in that it has 30 games from Rare’s history, including titles from the X360 era, but its more of a historical arcade than a collection. Gears of War Ultimate Edition was more or less an exercise by the The Coalition to aid in helping employees understand the core of the series, and turned into a product because why not? Voodoo Vince: Remastered was created as a passion project by the man who helmed the original, and now works at Microsoft – with him taking on almost all of the work. The Age of Empires series is seeing a new collection of remakes for games I-III, in time for IV to come out in the future. These are currently only for Windows, but could maybe see their way to the Xbox platform if Mouse + Keyboard support is added in the future. So what IP are suitable for 2018 and beyond? Banjo-Kazooie, Battletoads, Conker, Crimson Skies, Fable, and Perfect Dark could all work today if a developer has a competent plan for them. This doesn’t even include games introduced this gen, like Quantum Break, Recore, Ryse, and Sunset Overdrive. While it seems unlikely that sequels are coming for Ryse or Quantum Break – a Sunset Overdrive follow-up could happen, and a Recore sequel is all but sure to be in early development.

    The Future of Xbox

    What future titles can we expect, and hope to see in the future? With regards to mainline Halo and Gears, both series are more or less locked into their multiplayer – their challenge will be to improve single-player. Both series are also rumored to be getting spin-offs in different genres, but what exactly either of those will be is unclear. Forza Horizon IV is all but sure to come out this Fall, whether Forza 8 comes in 2019 or is moved to release alongside the next Xbox is unknown. There are currently rumors that a new Fable title is under works by Playground Games’ newly formed second team, and a possible new Perfect Dark being worked on at least in part with The Coalition. Who keep in mind tabled an IP that could very well be reworked into that universe... Outside of that, on a “AAA” scale, that’s all that’s really known. We know the projects they cancelled in the past were to move funding elsewhere, but what those could be is anyone’s guess.
    What is clear is that Microsoft believes in Phil Spencer, given his climb up the board within the company. He has convinced Satya Nadella that content is a big deal within the video game space, and has been given the go ahead to improve that as much as possible – with increased funding. He’s overseen the Xbox One S – what Phil himself said should have been the Xbox One all along – and the Xbox One X. Implementing the Backwards Compatibility program was one of his top priorities when he got his promotion, and it has drawn universal praise. He is passionate about games, and will bring them to Xbox. It’s safe to say they’ve seen a little bit of a drought recently with regards to big titles, but I think the future for Microsoft is pretty bright. It’s a sector where there is money to be made, and it would be unwise to discount a full-powered Microsoft from becoming the industry leader in the future.

  • While I do find the Game Pass a great addition to the brand moving forward, the issue for me is that there is nothing drawing me to that brand.
    I've made no secret that I've personally wanted a reason to buy a X1, but dropping $400-600 on a machine, that in the entire time it's been out only has two games on it I want (Rare Replay and Killer instinct) is honestly a extremely sad and dire situation in my opinion, throw in the fact that the one game that would have made me buy a X1 was cancelled (Scalebound) and what exclusives they do have being online multiplayer focused (Halo, Forza, Gears, Sea of Thieves) it's just a really hard sell for me (especially when considering I'd have to buy an another fightstick for one game)

    Might that change in the future, maybe if the rumor of a New Perfect Dark is true I might be tempted to get one, but even then I'd only probably pick one up a month or two before release (in case MS, you know cancels it)

  • Banned

    When Guardian Heroes HD gets ported, I'll buy an Xbone.