Xbox pulled out all of the stops this year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short, with an impressive 50 game briefing and inclusive mentality. Xbox isn't slated to win this generation's console war, but with some strategic plays, Phil Spencer just might be able to turn next season around. Here are five reasons why you should be excited for the future of Xbox.
1. Exclusive Studios
PlayStation has dominated the market in terms of exclusive games for their system this generation. It's no secret that they have released amazing single player titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and God of War, with many more soon to be released. The largest criticism towards the Xbox brand is it's lack of exclusive games to drive console sales. That criticism falls flat though when Phil Spencer announces 18 console launch exclusives and the acquisition of five game development studios, one of which is a brand new startup in Santa Monica slated to create AAAA titles.
Announcing the acquisition of five studios shows that Xbox means business, big business. What's even more impressive is the diversity of the games being produced, unlike what was shown on the PlayStation stage at E3 (mostly violent third-person action games). Xbox hails from all the genres, from first-person shooter staples like Halo and Gears, to phenomenal racing experiences under the Forza brand, to quirky multiplayer shenanigans in Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2, and to twisted story driven games like We Happy Few (not an exclusive title, but future games from Compulsion Games will be). The future of Xbox has a game for everyone.
2. Inclusive Community outlook
The smash hit Fortnite was released on the Nintendo Switch during E3 this year to much excitement; However, Switch owners soon uncovered an ugly truth about PlayStation's view of crossplay between competitors. PlayStation had effectively locked down any Fortnite account that had ever been used with a PlayStation 4. Many players unlinked their Fortnite account from the PlayStation Network to no avail. PlayStation's attitude towards the consumer unfriendly (if not predatory) policy was basically "We've sold the most consoles, lol, deal with it". Xbox on the other hand is very much for cross-platform play, and not even just with Fortnite. Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 are some of the most recent games to support crossplay between Xbox One and Windows 10. The recently announced update to Minecraft also allows crossplay between Xbox One, Windows 10, VR, Mobile, and the Nintendo Switch. Xbox clearly believes that the player should be able to choose where they play their games.
In line with their stance on crossplay, Xbox believes that anyone should be able to play their games. With the announcement of the adaptive controller, Xbox has opened gaming to an entirely new community that struggled to find footing because of the physical restrictions required by the standard Xbox controller. Xbox has shown that it takes all of its costumers seriously, even those which they have to profit from the least.
3. Backwards Compatibility
Xbox wasn't the first to allow backwards compatibility, but it certainly has done it the best on Xbox One. Unlike other services provided by Nintendo and Sony, Xbox doesn't charge you to play games that you already own. The backwards compatibility catalog seems to grow every week and provides an easy solution for purchasing old games you may have missed. Many games are even updated to look stunning in 4K with 60 frames per second. Phil Spencer has also been very clear that the future of Xbox is less about generations and more iterative, leading us to believe that backwards compatibility isn't going anywhere soon. Now where's my Kung Fu Chaos and Burnout 3: Takedown!
Many gamers start out on consoles, they are affordable, easy to use and have extensive game libraries. Many gamers eventually end up wanting more from their gaming experience and switching to PC. The Xbox platform provides the best transition to PC by far. With Xbox Play Anywhere, first-party Xbox One games can be redownloaded and played on a Windows 10 device with higher fidelity (assuming more powerful hardware is used). Some games even allow crossplay with the Xbox One and all allow cross-save functionality.
All of this functionality is made possible by Xbox and Windows 10 being part of the Microsoft ecosystem. It's obvious that they blending of the Xbox and PC space will continue as we continue into the future. The Xbox dashboard follows the same design language as Windows 10, adapted for a living room environment. It wouldn't be a surprise if we see external GPU enclosures available on the next Xbox console or an Xbox OS being released for dual-booting on the PC. Microsoft has changed it's outlook from being the one device supplier to supplying a unified experience, and there's no reason for that not to carry into the console and PC gaming space.
5. Xbox Game Pass
Say what you want about subscription services, but the Xbox Game Pass is the best way to play games. At less than what you pay for an HD Netflix subscription, you can play hundreds of games, including every first party Xbox One release. Game pass allows players to explore new categories at without having to heavily invest, and if you really like the game you can choose to purchase it. Xbox found out that Game Pass subscribers are playing and buying more games than non-subscribers. So not only is Xbox Game Pass great for the players, it also is great for game developers and Xbox. Win-win. More people playing games is better for everyone.