E3 is fast approaching and it’s going to be a key year for Microsoft and their Xbox One. Here is the list of things we think they need to do to make up some much needed ground of the competition come June.
Blow us away with exclusives
Microsoft are losing the race to Sony’s PlayStation 4 and whilst they are putting up a very respectable second place in the USA and UK, the rest of the world is Sony’s oyster. The message is out there for all to hear, the PlayStation 4 is the most powerful console and as such, they aren’t going to be winning any battles in the multiplatform department, even with exclusive DLC and marketing rights. They need exclusives, must-have games you can only play on Xbox One, and no, not just third-party titles that they have bought exclusivity for. We need to see first-party and second-party exclusives out the wazoo from Microsoft at this year’s E3, and to their credit, all signs point to such an eventuality.
We’ll have already know they have Halo 5:Guardians, Forza 6, Fable Legends and (sigh) Rise of the Tomb Raider for the holiday season this year, with Quantum Break confirmed for early next year. Rumours and leaked images of a Gears of War remaster are abound and that will likely land in early 2016 too, but we need to see Microsoft’s commitment beyond that. Crackdown 3, Scalebound and a new Gears of War are all coming, but what else do they have up their sleeves? A new title from Rare, a Battletoads revival and a new ip from Lionhead are all likely to show up too, but do they have anything we know nothing about? We hope so.
Improve Games with Gold
Games with Gold is a good initiative and in a vacuum you’d hear very few complaints from me, especially given that not long ago we we’re paying our Xbox Live Gold fee for the pleasure of multiplayer gaming alone, whereas now we get free games every month. But the games industry isn’t a vacuum and it’s no secret that Sony are offering a better deal on the freebies front. Even if we drop the subjective which games are better line, this article by IGN shows the straight numbers; PS+ subscribers are getting more bang for their buck.
But given the upcoming focus on Windows 10 and cross-functionality between all Microsoft devices including tablets, PC and Xbox, E3 is the perfect time for Microsoft to up their game. You see, Sony gives out two games a month for each of their consoles; PS4, PS3 and PS Vita but thanks to cross-play between a lot of games on these devices, you can actually end up with the lion’s share of these titles if all you own is a PS4. Microsoft doesn’t have such a luxury at their disposal, yet. But with the advent of cross-play between Windows 10 and Xbox One, Microsoft has an opportunity to offer games for Tablet, PC and Xbox One as part of their games with Gold promotion. Hell, if they make the deal sweet enough they could even end up with a few Gold subscribers who don’t even own an Xbox One.
Drop the damn parity clause for ID@Xbox
I like Chris Charla and I like Phil Spencer and I believe they are good guys who are passionate about gaming and who just want Xbox One to be a great place to play games. That is why I have no idea why in gods name they haven’t sacked off the god awful release parity clause with regards to ID@Xbox games. They always tiptoe around the topic saying they can’t talk about the details of the clause and that indie devs should just talk to them. Here is what Chris Charla, head of ID@Xbox had to say in a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz.
“I actually think we’re pretty flexible. What we’ve always said is that we can’t talk about the clause, developers should get in touch, but the reality is if a developer gets in touch and there’s a situation where they can’t sim-ship because they just don’t have the resources to do testing across three consoles at the same time? We totally get that. And that’s no problem.
If a game is not going to be coming to Xbox One for many months because there’s been an exclusivity agreement signed or something like that then all we really ask is that they do something with the game so that it feels fresh for Xbox players. Developers seem to respond pretty well to that.”
Ignoring what’s wrong with that, you simply can’t deny that the very existence of the clause is a toxin eating away at any goodwill that Microsoft can build up within the indie gaming community. Whatever gains it makes them are certainly being eroded and then some by the mixed messaging and jumping through hoops that leads to many indie developers just saying ‘balls to it, we’ll just not release on Xbox’. Drop the clause, it’s doing more harm than good with its name alone at this point.
That’s it for our list of Microsoft’s to-do list for E3. If you have any better suggestions and Phil Spencer won’t reply to you on Twitter, then feel free to leave them in the comments below. Just keep it friendly, we know how you console warriors get around this time of year.