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The Xbox One X Doesn't Have Nearly Enough Exclusives to Justify its $499 Price Tag

Ori and the Will of the Wisps? Forza? Playerunknown's Baettlegrounds? It's not enough.

Opinion by Kat Bailey, .

We're at E3 2017 covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2017 hub!

When the news broke this morning that the system we now know as the Xbox One X would be $499, it immediately became incumbent on Microsoft to sell us on their new console being the best of the best. But there was another issue lurking below the radar: their lack of high-quality exclusives.

That problem was on full display when they led their list of exclusives with Forza 7, an outstanding racer that nevertheless lacks the mainstream power of, say, Horizon Zero Dawn or Breath of the Wild.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks lovely. System seller? Nah.

As the press conference continued, Microsoft touted one game after another as an "exclusive:" a host of indie games, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. They showed Sea of Thieves and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, two excellent-looking games that are nevertheless not what you would call graphical powerhouses.

Outside of Forza 7, the two best-looking games were Metro Exodus and BioWare's Anthem: two games that will also be available on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Will the Xbox One X's graphical enhancements be enough to sway people away from the PlayStation 4 Pro? It doesn't seem likely, particularly with 4K still being in its very early days. The PS4 Pro's "almost 4K" will more than likely be just fine for people looking to buy into the premium version of the current generation.

The PS4 Pro, it should be mentioned, already has its killer app in Horizon Zero Dawn. Say what you want about the gameplay (you may have heard that we're not really fans), but it is gorgeous. It's a new IP that looks absolutely fabulous in 4K. It looks great on the vanilla PS4 as well, but its enhancements are enough to nudge a power gamer to spend $399 on a PS4 Pro.

But dropping $499 on an Xbox One X? A system that has fallen well behind Nintendo and Sony in the exclusives arms race? Oof.

It's hardly a new take to say that Microsoft doesn't have enough in the way of high-quality exclusives. Where they dominated last generation with Gears of War and another new IPs, they've struggled to keep flagship titles like Halo relevant. Crackdown 3 is apt to be pretty good, but when faced with an onslaught like God of War, Spider-Man, Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, and (please god) Bloodborne 2, it hardly seems like enough.

Anthem looks like a lovely game. But like so many other high-quality games on Xbox, it's on something else.

So as hard as Microsoft has worked to sell the notion of the Xbox One X being the most powerful console around, it all goes back to the old mantra: games, games, games.

In the end, the coolest reveal at the Xbox's big event was Anthem: the new BioWare IP that follows in the footsteps of Destiny. It was everything that Microsoft needs out of a system seller. It was touted as being the perfect example of the power that Xbox One X will bring to the table.

But like so many other great Xbox One games, it's available on other platforms. The Xbox One has a great library of third-party games--enough to satisfy any gamer--but there's a reason Microsoft has fallen so far behind Sony this generation. Hard as Microsoft tried to push the Xbox One X, that reason was evident once again.

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Comments 33

  • Avatar for sfalletta #1 sfalletta 3 months ago
    I totally agree with the op-ed. While a few games looked great, it's telling that a large part of XBox's presentation was focused on small titles that are stylish but not graphically intense. No way am I investing $500 at launch for a beast of a system for 2-3 games and enhanced graphics on old games like Halo and gears.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #2 Roto13 3 months ago
    PS4 Pro vs Xbox One X (ugh, that name) is sounding like repeat of PS4 and Xbox One (ugh, that name) and we know how that turned out.
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  • Avatar for secularsage #3 secularsage 3 months ago
    I'm still struggling to understand who their target audience is supposed to be. Gamers who live on the bleeding edge of graphics are PC gamers, not console gamers. Microsoft did a smart thing with that Xbox One Elite Controller - improved quality is something a niche of console gamers cares about - but the Xbox One X (or XbOX, natch) is appealing to a 4k gamer that I'm not certain actually exists at this point. It'll be years before 4K TV that require a better console really catch on.

    At least they're keeping the $300 (or $250 this week) model available as well, and at least it'll continue to run the latest games. That's a good thing.
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  • Avatar for Aerothorn #4 Aerothorn 3 months ago
    I would argue that this same logic applies to all of the consoles, though, at least for anyone who owns a PC. In previous generations it was common for gamers to have both gaming PCs and game consoles; but now consoles have almost no exclusives (whereas the PC still has a butt-ton due to its nature as an open platform, among other things). The counter-argument is that console gaming is still a very good value for the hardware; the counter-counter-argument is that you end up paying a lot more for games (depending on how many you play).
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #5 UnskippableCutscene 3 months ago
    @secularsage
    I think the "target audience" is people whose idea of "next generation graphics" is a 4K television. PC gamers are generally prioritizing refresh rates and these synchronous technologies that link the refresh of your monitor to the frames your card is pumping out.

    Xbox is targeting the kind of people who don't even notice that VSync on adds additional controller lag.
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  • Avatar for PanurgeJr #6 PanurgeJr 3 months ago
    @Aerothorn For me this is the third E3 that Microsoft and Sony (pending their show) have shown off how PC-like they are. Well, message received; I'll just get a gaming PC for my third parties, and justify the higher cost with the fact that it's a computer with other functions.
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #7 Kat.Bailey 3 months ago
    @Aerothorn I disagree. PS4 and Switch have lots of desirable exclusives.
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  • Avatar for sfalletta #8 sfalletta 3 months ago
    @Kat.Bailey I think PS4's exclusives are shrinking as Japanese developers continue to enbrace PC
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  • Avatar for sfalletta #9 sfalletta 3 months ago
    Also, I am just wondering.... is anyone excited about Sea of Thieves? I hear a segment of the gaming media talk it up but I fail to see why anyone would be excited for the title.
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  • Avatar for matthewcooley77 #10 matthewcooley77 3 months ago
    Deleted June 2017 by matthewcooley77
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  • Avatar for Kat.Bailey #11 Kat.Bailey 3 months ago
    @sfalletta This year alone has God of War, Days Gone, and Spider-Man, with Last of Us 2 still in the offing.
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #12 WiIIyTheAntelope 3 months ago
    @sfalletta It didn't look like anything special to me. Though the pirate motif is cool and very underused, the gameplay they showed left me completely flat.
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  • Avatar for sfalletta #13 sfalletta 3 months ago
    @Kat.Bailey I guess I am only analyzing things based on the genres I play. I am satisfied playing Nier Automatica and Nioh on PC. For me, none of those Sony exclusives would crack my top 5 most anticipated games for 2017 and their are so many releases nowadays that I'm okay with missing a AAA release I desire to play if I don't owe the platform its on. That's why I am playing the long wait for Persona 5 on Switch.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #14 UnskippableCutscene 3 months ago
    I think when you're talking about "exclusives" and using that word you need to omit PC more and more. It's a unique audience with entire genres that aren't represented well on console, and you're as unlikely to find people playing co-op football on a humming mini-tower as you will find League of Legends on PS4.

    Ultimately it's turning into PC or consoles, with anyone who has both being, and I don't say this in a scolding way, spoiled.
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  • Avatar for thesirkibble2 #15 thesirkibble2 3 months ago
    Of course it needs games but it sounds like this article is written with the assumption all that was shown at this press conference is all there ever will be. First, from business standpoint, it had to be $500. Okay. Maybe $450. But $400? No. At that point, you don't sell the original Xbox One anymore. And maybe that is a better option but Microsoft already admitted they don't expect to sell a ton of Xbox One X's, so selling a console at a bigger loss (because we all know it will sell at a loss) isn't good business.

    Second, we don't know what's up with Halo 6, for example. Obviously it will be well-optimized for Xbox One X and if Microsoft plays their cards right with Anthem (and Anthem actually turns out good), they could have another Call of Duty situation where they get the exclusive benefits to the better version of Destiny (if it were to be better).

    I do agree there aren't enough games right now to justify the price but that doesn't mean there won't be later.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #16 Kuni-Nino 3 months ago
    You have really sipped the Kool-Aid on Sony's first party if you're touting Days Gone as something to look forward to. God of War I can understand because it's Santa Monica, but Sony's first party stuff has always been more spotty than stellar. Anyone remember the Order? How about those four Killzone games nobody wanted? Knack? Gravity Rush? The Last Guardian took like ten years to make and it was a style of game that belonged in that era.

    Honestly, I don't think the casual person is looking at Sony's offerings and making their decision based on that. Yeah, Bloodborne was awesome but say the game was exclusive to the XB1 at the time. Would people have picked XB1 over PS4 at the time? Of course not.

    I agree that games matter but you're looking at the wrong ones if you think Sony's offerings are turning the tide. It's more about the third parties these days and Sony was the one to offer all those awesome third party games at a lower price and with better performance. That's why they won.

    With the X, MS will have the chance to say: "play all those games here and they will look better ever. Plus you can future proof your console when you buy that new television!"

    As someone who is looking to upgrade on console and a TV, and I'm really interested in what Anthem is going to be, the X looks pretty damn appealing.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #17 VotesForCows 3 months ago
    It really looks like someone let their kids play X's and O's to come up with that console title.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #18 UnskippableCutscene 3 months ago
    Is Gravity Rush bad?

    I've never played, but the post above doesn't put it in good company.
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  • Avatar for Jericho-GM #19 Jericho-GM 3 months ago
    @Kuni-Nino It's a little foolish to think that exclusivity had nothing to do with the PS4's success over the XBox One.

    And you sure decided to forget some games that didn't support your argument. How about Uncharted, God of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Nioh, Gran Turismo, Death Stranding, Last of Us, Yakuza? If it's only between the PS4 and the XBox then how about the ones that are PS4 and PC only like Nier or Street Fighter V? Guilty Gear Xrd?

    You say casual gamers would not choose their console based on exclusivity but do you think they'd care that one console has a higher framerate than the other one?

    No, they'd choose the console that's $100 cheaper and, oh yeah, has an EXCLUSIVE SPIDER-MAN GAME.
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  • Avatar for Thetick #20 Thetick 3 months ago
    I think two things get mixed up. It is a great price for the technology. For the price of less then a 1080gtx, you get a whole 4k gaming experience and 4k blu-ray. Personal value is something else. I think spending so much money on a high end phone is nuts, though I can't deny they are great pieces of technology.

    Basically the whole points of this is to have the best console around. You can say that it's usueless with no games, but it's better then having no games and the worst console. At least now all third party games look and play the best on a MS console. They haven't had that for a long time.

    MS is clearly playing the long game. They are behind, they know it, accept it and wil fight sony when the time is right. Probably next gen. I will get this one, assuming MS will let you trade in your old xbox like sony did with pspro.
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  • Avatar for Thetick #21 Thetick 3 months ago
    @Kuni-Nino you forget one thing. MS upset a lot of people with their tv tv and always online messages. They tried to contain it, but the damage was done. A lot jumped to sony and something people seem to forget a lot is, that people who join later buy the console that their friends have. A lot of times that outweighs all the graphics and exclusives. Early days xbox one and ps4 had nothing to show for gaming wise and still ps4 was sold out for months at release, getting a solid user base.
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  • Avatar for yuberus #22 yuberus 3 months ago
    I think for me the limited number of games exclusive to Xbox One already - and upcoming - that appeal to me is a major factor to why I haven't bothered picking one up yet (and whenever I do, it'll probably be the S). A $500 price tag is hard for me to justify when I don't have a 4k tv and had a hard time getting excited about stuff like Shadow of Mordor or Anthem.

    I do love the OG Xbox compatibility, since there is quite a good number of games from that generation that are nigh-impossible to play without the hardware (Splinter Cells, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Toejam and Earl 3, Halo 1 and 2, Pirates). I don't know if that'll be exclusive to the X, but even if it is that is itself not a ready purchase point for me.
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  • Avatar for jeffk #23 jeffk 3 months ago
    @UnskippableCutscene Gravity Rush is great—yeah, I don't understand the hate there either.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #24 Kuni-Nino 3 months ago
    @Jericho-GM The PS4 broke records before it had any of those games you mentioned. Nobody knew about Horizon or Death Stranding and Gran Turismo still isn't out yet and the PS4 still blew away the competition. Why? Because it's cheaper and plays all of the games most people want.

    Overwatch, Call of Duty, Battlefield, NBA 2K, Madden, FIFA, Assassin's Creed, Fallout 4 and Grand Theft Auto 5. Guess what the PS4 is also going to allow you to play in the future: Battlefront 2, Red Dead Redemption, AC: Origins, Destiny 2.

    If you're a PS4 owner, you're set. Only upgrade if you're a graphics person.

    P.S. I can't believe you namedropped SFV. The game Capcom themselves cited as one that hasn't even met its 2 million copies expectations. Yeah, real great exclusive there!
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  • Avatar for Death5talker45 #25 Death5talker45 3 months ago
    I was hoping and praying for a $399 price point... I was going to be in... get it at launch... I don't want a XboxOne Slim...I don't have any interest in PS4 or PS4Pro... I have waited and waited for the Xbox One X... Scorpio.... $499 prices me out of the market. I will continue to play me 4 year old Xbox360 E and the 100+ games I have to play including half on backlog... and wait and wait for MS to drop the X to $399, maybe a miracle will happen before launch... here's to hope.
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  • Avatar for scottygrayskull #26 scottygrayskull 3 months ago
    If I wasn't already so invested in the MS ecosystem I might agree. I certainly wouldn't buy this outright (for the same reasons I didn't buy a Switch... just not worth it), but if EB has a good trade up offer for my XBO I'll probably make the move.

    PS4 has the most exclusives I want out now and XBO has the most that still haven't come out yet (hnnnng CRACKDOWN). Good time to be thankful I'm so far behind the times on games. I'm still going through Fallout 4 and only just started Dishonored 2.
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  • Avatar for dr134 #27 dr134 3 months ago
    I think a lot of people are looking at the Xbox One X the wrong way. It has the potential to be a hit because so many people do not have the Xbox One. Unlike the PS4 Pro, which hasn't enticed a ton of PS4 owners to upgrade, people without an Xbox One may buy one to play all the multiplatform games and keep their PS4 for exclusives.

    Then again, it may just completely fail.
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  • Avatar for Jericho-GM #28 Jericho-GM 3 months ago
    @Kuni-Nino Okay, you're confusing me now. The discussion was not about why the initial sales of the PS4 were stronger than the Xbone's. It's about whether first party exclusives had a hand in its success at all.

    I'm pretty sure that was the case because you mentioned Bloodborne, which is not a launch game. Same goes for The Order. You even mentioned the FOUR Killzone games which made me think that you were talking about exclusivity in general (only the fourth one came for PS4). Heck, you even mentioned upcoming games like Days Gone.

    Exclusives may not have been a factor out of the gate but it's pretty dumb to think that it had nothing to do with why people are buying PS4s over Xbox Ones, now or in the future.

    PS Yeah, I like SFV. I like action and fighting games. Initial sales might have disappointed Capcom but it does have long legs. You know what else I knew I was going to like? Scalebound. Oh, wait.Edited 2 times. Last edited June 2017 by Jericho-GM
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  • Avatar for Jericho-GM #29 Jericho-GM 3 months ago
    @jeffk It's because the poster was trying to downplay PS4 exclusives. Why? I don't know exactly.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #30 UnskippableCutscene 3 months ago
    @Death5talker45 Does a $250 S not even move you? There's a lot of great games this generation, if you've been denying yourself stuff from the past four years you're really missing out.
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  • Avatar for matthewjohnson31 #31 matthewjohnson31 3 months ago
    @Thetick So if you're going to lose you should lose more expensively?
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  • Avatar for RonF #32 RonF 3 months ago
    @Kuni-Nino Unlike you I enjoyed Killzone but hated God of War. The strength in Sony's exclusives is that they cover a multitude of genres and thus a number of them will be attractive to any gamer. Microsoft simply doesn't have that breath and thus many more people are left cold by their offerings.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #33 brionfoulke91 3 months ago
    @UnskippableCutscene Gravity Rush is a FANTASTIC game. I'd definitely hold it up as one of the PS4's better exclusives, for sure!
    @Kat.Bailey I'm with you! It took awhile, but starting late last year the PS4 has seriously caught up in the exclusive war and now actually feels worthwhile in it's own right. The Switch looks like it's coming along pretty well too! I agree with everything you wrote in this article 100%.
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  • Avatar for hamfighter #34 hamfighter 3 months ago
    While I was completely underwhelmed with the proposition of an Xbox One X, I'll admit that as a current Xbox One S owner (who owns a gaming capable PC but prefers playing most games on consoles) I did see a decent amount there that will keep me playing the system alongside my PS4/Switch. There's nothing exclusive to One X except higher specs for "enhanced" games with 4K/HDR/etc. But there are still some console exclusives for the "Xbox family" (eye roll) of consoles, which I already own.

    Cuphead looks great and is finally nearing release. Ori was a pleasant surprise and I doubt it will disappoint. Super Lucky's Tale's reveal and impressions I've read have made it, surprisingly enough, one of the E3 reveals I'm looking forward to playing the most. First party stuff like Crackdown, Forza 7, and State of Decay 2 will probably be interesting enough for me to pick up, even if they're no reason for me to upgrade to a One X. I'll wait and see on Sea of Thieves, but hey, maybe...

    Was also notable to me that MS was the only one of the three platform holders who gave significant time to high quality indies in their presentations. The Last Night was a standout, in addition to a couple of the games I mentioned above.

    I was hugely disappointed with MS immediately after their conference, but after having a couple days to digest it and separating the disappointment of the One X from the decent amount of games shown, I'm a little more comfortable and didn't see massive differences in quantity of software that interests me from Sony and Nintendo's flagship presentations.
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