Ever since I became a gamer, much of my focus has been on Microsoft platforms. I remember playing a lot of games like Halo 2 and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on my Xbox and being incredibly excited for what was coming next. From there I spent a good amount of my time gaming on my Xbox 360 and eventually my Xbox One and PC. I’m very loyal to the Microsoft brand, however I can easily recognize the flaws with it. If I’m being honest with myself, as much as I love the Xbox One, it had a very rough launch and still hasn’t fully recovered to the point of being a viable rival to PlayStation 4. Xbox has made a comeback in the industry, but it still isn’t as relevant as it once was with gamers. While it’s almost impossible for the Xbox One to catch up to the PlayStation 4 at this point, it’s possible for the Xbox brand to regain lost ground and start being relevant to gamers again.
- A Focus on Exclusives
The biggest complaint most gamers have had with Xbox, also including times before the Xbox One, was its lack of exclusives in comparison to Nintendo and Sony. This is something that has become more and more of a problem over the continued lifespan of the Xbox One. The only big exclusives that Xbox One has at this point (that aren’t ports, remakes, or remasters) are Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War 4, and Halo Wars 2. I hesitate to even mention Gears 4 and Halo Wars 2 because, while both are great, they’re also available on PC. It also doesn’t help that two of these exclusives are part of the same series and none of them are new IPs. Xbox head Phil Spencer has stated that this year won’t have a focus on Halo or Gears games, but rather new IPs. This is very promising since it should hopefully add some new games/series that don’t suffer from franchise fatigue to Microsoft’s small family of exclusive titles. If Microsoft focuses on new IPs while working to make their old ones relevant again, they’ll be golden here.
- A Reinvigorated Halo
Speaking of old IPs, Halo has long been the face of the Xbox. The biggest counter-argument to complaints about the lack of exclusives used to be how awesome the adventures of the Master Chief were. However, Halo has been suffering from a bit of an identity crisis ever since developer Bungie left to work on Destiny. Now run by 343 Industries, Halo has struggled to maintain the critical and financial success that it once had under Bungie. Every single release in the series since Halo: Reach, Bungie’s final addition to the series, has either been mired in controversy or just forgotten soon after launch. As a huge Halo fan, it’s honestly very sad that the best received Halo content in the past six years have been the Anniversary Edition remasters of previous titles. Halo 4 started the series down a path that lost some of the fan base, but Halo 5 was where things got bad for the series. A combination of strange stylistic, musical, and narrative choices has alienated the average Halo fan in favor of the super fans of its expanded universe of novels and other tie-in content. Now I’m sad to say that I’m not even remotely excited for Halo 6 considering how disappointed I was in Halo 5. Microsoft could turn that around, however. Halo Wars 2 was a breath of fresh air in the series and if Halo 6 ends up being as good as any of the Bungie games, Halo will be back in business and Xbox will have a system-seller on their hands once more.
- The Example Set by PlayStation 3
I feel like a lot of people fail to recognize this, but the mistakes Xbox One made during its launch are almost identical to the mistakes made by the PlayStation 3 during its launch. Both were the most expensive console on the market at the time, both had a focus on strange new features rather than games, both had poor marketing campaigns, and both were completely outshined by the competition. However, PlayStation 3 arguably had it worse since the difference in price between the PS3 and Xbox 360 was much greater than between the Xbox One and PS4. Also, PS3 game developers didn’t seem to figure out the hardware and how to make games look good on the system for a few years after launch. However, Sony managed to turn it around with solid exclusive titles like the Uncharted series, Demon’s Souls, and The Last of Us. They also won back the average consumer by having better deals than their competition, like free PSN, and advertising this and their products well. If Microsoft were to emulate this, they could make a real comeback. This is entirely possible considering 2017 is supposed to be a year for new IPs on the Xbox, PSN now costs exactly as much as Xbox Live, the Xbox One is cheaper than the PS4, and Microsoft has the money for a solid advertising campaign.