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Xbox Brand Will Continue On, Microsoft Doubling Down on Exclusive Games

The Xbox One is firmly in second place this generation, but Microsoft still has hope it can turn things around.

News by Mike Williams, .

It's not hard to say that Microsoft has made some mistakes this generation. Sales of the PlayStation 4 have hit 30.2 million worldwide and in response Microsoft has decided not to share console shipment numbers as its primary success metric in the future. The Kinect is dead. Though it launched with the Xbox One, Microsoft has removed the device as the standard pack-in with consoles in order to shave the standard retail price down.

Quantum Break is Microsoft's first major title next year.

A look at the NPD charts for November 2015 shows that Xbox One exclusives aren't winning over consumers. Halo 5: Guardians ended up at number eight on the charts, while Rise of the Tomb Raider didn't chart at all. And other than Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Just Dance 2016, every multiplatform game sold better on PlayStation 4.

The Xbox One isn't dead by any means, but it's firmly in second place this generation. Despite that, Microsoft is counting on the Xbox brand in the future. In an article on The Verge, Microsoft executives talked about the future of the Xbox brand and how they intend to gain ground on Sony in the future.

"No, I fully expect that you'll see another console from us," Xbox boss Phil Spencer told The Verge. "Our best customers are Xbox console customers, and I want to keep those people engaged both on the Xbox One and anything we might do in the future. I'm 100 percent committed to that. I don't want to dilute what the Xbox console customer feels. I want to expand what we're able to do for more customers."

Crackdown is coming to beta in early 2016.

So Microsoft is now the underdog and that means making the smart moves to try and win back consumers. In our industry, the smart move isn't a new controller or extra peripheral. It's better games. So Microsoft has to scramble to make better games, knowing that one of the major producers of games the community enjoys, Japan, is pretty much ignoring the Xbox One. In fact, Sony has locked in exclusives like Street Fighter V, Persona 5, Valkyria: Azure Revolution, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, and King of Fighters XIV, which make the PlayStation 4 look like a far more lucrative platform for fans of Japanese games.

"I see our primary role really as being the proof point," explained Microsoft Studios general manager Shannon Loftis. "We prove to gamers why it's worth playing on the Microsoft platforms. We prove to game developers why it's worth [making games for our platform]."

The big bets for Microsoft in 2016 are Quantum Break, Crackdown 3, and ReCore. None are made in-house at Microsoft. Quantum Break is being developed by Remedy Entertainment, Crackdown 3 is being created by Reagent Games (Crackdown creator David Jones founded the studio), and ReCore is a Comcept and Armature Studio project. If anything, successful games like Killer Instinct, which was developed by Double Helix Games and has since been stewarded by Iron Galaxy Studios, have shown Microsoft that it's all about bringing the right team together with the right concept.

"I actually love this notion of finding seed IPs," says Loftis, "and helping game creators realize their very first vision. The more we can engage with that developer, the more releases we can put into the marketplace, the more likely that it might become one of these franchises."

Of course, Microsoft still has an uphill battle. It needs to not only have parity with Sony's PS4 output, the company also has to watch out for Nintendo's NX platform in the future. For the time being though, the company is saying the right things and shifting away from ideas that put the Xbox One in second place from the beginning of this generation.

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Comments 15

  • Avatar for MetManMas #1 MetManMas 2 years ago
    ReCore looks pretty neat 'cuz of the otherworldly desert setting with a lady and her pet robot, but (nothing against the new Crackdown) the other exclusives look just like your usual "angry man with guns" stuff we already have more than enough of. I'm still going with Sony in part 'cuz they're more likely to have exclusives that aren't shooty games...though they've got plenty of those, too.

    I'm gonna need more than the rare Rare release to sell me on the Xbox One.
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  • Avatar for Sturat #2 Sturat 2 years ago
    I predict that Microsoft will launch a new console in 2017. One of the main goals of the Xbox line is to make the general Microsoft brand seem cool and relevant, and I don't think the Xbox One can salvage its bad reputation. It would definitely stir things up if Microsoft suddenly had the most powerful system on the block right when PS4 is hitting its stride and Nintendo is trying to launch the NX...
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #3 Neifirst 2 years ago
    Is ReCore really a 2016 game? All that's been shown (to my knowledge) is that CG trailer. Considering Comcept had trouble getting multiplayer modes in Mighty Number 9 ready in time, I'm doubtful they'll have a new 3D title ready that quickly. If it's Metroid Prime-esque, I may consider getting an Xbox One next Christmas, since they'll probably be under $200 at the rate they're going with price drops.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #4 Neifirst 2 years ago
    @Sturat Good point about a possible quick successor to Xbox One. I wonder if Apple's success in getting people to upgrade their phones every 2-3 years at $200-400 a pop will carry over to game consoles eventually. Microsoft may have an opening if Sony gets bogged down with their VR initiative and Nintendo's NX fails to capture the interest of the hard core videogame crowd off the bat. It would have to be a noticeable upgrade over PS4 at an attractive price point though, and I have no idea how realistic that combination is.
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  • Avatar for kantaroo3 #5 kantaroo3 2 years ago
    I doubt that MS will come out with a new console soon. People who have invested in an XB1 will be disappointed - just look at the hand wringing from Nintendo fans at the fact that NX is likely to come out next year. And if there is one console that has been commercially unsuccessful this year, it is the Wii U.
    I think MS best strategy is to focus on exclusive games. Not temporary exclusive ones either, but proper exclusives from their own studios or from IP they own. Because the PS4 is that bit more powerful, any cross-platform games are likely to always be that bit better on PS4. So why invite comparisons? Focus on exclusives that can only be played on XB1. Make gamers wish they had access to those games and build your chances for the next generation.
    I think the next MS console is at least 2 if not 3 years away, but by then they want to be seen as a desirable console - and they will achieve that with exclusive games.Edited December 2015 by kantaroo3
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #6 VotesForCows 2 years ago
    I was envious of a few 360 titles in the last generation, but there's just nothing appealing for me on the One this time around.
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  • Avatar for Sturat #7 Sturat 2 years ago
    @VotesForCows I'd buy Raiden 5 if they released it on something else besides Xbox One.
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  • Avatar for Spectreman #8 Spectreman 2 years ago
    The best thing that can happen for PS4 owners is that Xbox One keep closing in the gap, to Sony don't rest in your position.
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  • Avatar for secularsage #9 secularsage 2 years ago
    There's still plenty of hope for Microsoft. If they stay focused on good content, in a few years, many of us will be looking at the Xbox One and saying, "maybe I should pick one up and try those games I missed."

    I say this because it's EXACTLY what happened last generation with the PS3 after its slow start, and by the time the PS4 and Xbox One launched, Sony had caught up to the 360. It just took Sony getting over its own hubris, as will be the case this time around with Microsoft.
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  • Avatar for jacklarson #10 jacklarson 2 years ago
    I went with Xbox One over PS4 this generation based upon what I felt were slightly better exclusive games, a pretty good Black Friday bundle, and a complete lack of anything else to differentiate the two consoles. Now that Japanese developers are finally throwing their remaining weight behind the PS4, I think another console purchase is in my future.
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