Admittedly, I have never owned an Xbox console. Since the PC giant threw their hat into the gaming arena my allegiance has always been with Nintendo and Playstation. But there’s no denying it, Microsoft has a strong console and a dedicated fanbase, they know how to make an event out of a AAA release and create plenty of excitement and hype for their exclusive games. For the first time in 10 years Microsoft finds their home console behind Sony’s PS4, so let’s talk about what the American console can/will do to retake the throne.
Microsoft doesn’t own the most first party studios, but the ones they do own are budding with potential. Lionhead Studios, Turn 10, Rare, Black Tusk,and of course 343 to name a few. Microsoft’s problem has always been not having enough franchises. They’ve got their Halo, Gears of War and Forza but could surely use some new faces. As the PS4 begins to ramp up by bringing old franchises back, the Xbox will need more than Master Chief and Forza to get ahead of their Japanese rival. Fable: Legends, the newest installment in the Fable franchise continues the Lionhead trend of trying something completely different from the canon entries. Meanwhile, a new Gears of War seems to be M.I.A. Much to everyone’s surprise Gears didn’t make an appearance at last years E3, no announcement or information regarding the popular third-person shooter arriving on the Xbox One is puzzling to say the least. Forza has already hit the newest generation of console with Forza Horizon 2. The casual sim-racer proved to be a moderate success but couldn’t reach the height Microsoft had hoped. Luckily,Forza Motorsport 6 was officially unveiled at North American International Auto Show. Simulation racing games are very intricate and prone to detail geared (heh) towards a dedicated audience. Microsoft needs to tread softly to avoid saturating the market of own of their flagship franchises.
Yes I’m dedicating an entire section to Halo for one simple reason, a new Halo release is an event. The massive fanbase Halo has accrued over the years will always come back to their beloved franchise for a new outing. Multiplayer data revealed Halo 4’s online player base shrunk by more than half following the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. For most franchise that would hurt, a healthy and strong player base brings an equally long and healthy shelf life. But the megaton sales of a canon Halo title is as consistent as gravity because the fans always come back. This time around won’t be as easy simple, the large install base of 360 owners won’t be there as a safety net. Of course Microsoft want Halo 5 to sell millions of copies, what they want more though is for the Chief to sell millions of Xbox Ones. There’s no doubt Halo 5 will be a great game and do well commercially, but it needs to do more.
Raising Rare From The Grave
Oh how the mighty have fallen. I can’t help but seethe when I think about how Microsoft has used Rare over the years. The developer responsible the likes of Wizards and Warriors, Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark and Conker’s Bad Fur Day has been reduced to an avatar factory. It wasn’t until recently Microsoft let them out of the basement to recreate the fan favorite Killer Instinct. Despite the entire original team leaving long ago, Rare is finally being given a chance to bring some beloved franchise back from the dead. Microsoft exec Phil Spencer has been vocal about wanting the same and has teased promising things to come. Will we finally see Rare return to form ?