These days it seems like gamers everywhere are either talking about the PlayStation 4 and its great lineup of upcoming games or the Nintendo Switch, and how it’s going to pull Nintendo out of the dark days of the Wii U-era.Both these systems are dominating game-related headlines and are definitely occupying that so very important ‘top of mind’ spot in gaming circles. But remember, the video game industry is a three-horse race between Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft’s Xbox One console which, has been conspicuously absent as of late. So I want to ask the question, has Microsoft’s seemingly lack of interest in pushing their console made the Xbox One irrelevant?
Since E3 2016 Sony & Nintendo have had a combined seven presentations ranging from major hardware reveals to smaller presentations focused on a single title (not including the Sony/Nintendo heavy Game Awards). These events have provided massive exposure to the PlayStation 4, PSVR, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch, which is a big reason why those consoles are so popular among gamers right now and occupy a major amount of the chatter online. In that time Microsoft has answered with a (drum roll please) grand total of 0 presentations dedicated to the Xbox One and it’s games. Zip. Natta. Zilch. This has left Xbox owners in a sort of limbo, as they eagerly await any news on what is coming next for their console of choice with no reprieve in sight.
But that’s not to say that Microsoft has been completely silent over the past six months, as we have gotten news and updates on some of the systems big, yet-to-be-released, games. Titles like Sea of Thieves, Halo Wars 2 and Crackdown 3 have all received sporadic updates over the past few weeks which definitely helped keep the hardcore fans involved with the brand but the problem remains that none of these updates were shared with gamers through attention grabbing means with Microsoft resorting to either Twitter or press releases to share the news. Oh and let’s forget the string of negative attention the Xbox One received after it was announced the major third-party games were coming exclusively to the PS4 (Dragon Quest Heroes II) and the disappointing cancellation of the highly anticipated Scalebound.
One thing I’ve rambled on about in the past is the fact that since the Xbox One would no longer have true exclusives thanks to all of its games also coming to the PC it would be at a disadvantage when compared to Sony and Nintendo’s wide array of titles they can call their own. It’s an argument as old as time (or maybe the early 90’s) but exclusives really do sell consoles, one only as to look at the selling power of games like Donkey Kong Country, Metal Gear Solid, Halo: Combat Evolved, The legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and The Last of Us to see that gamers are perfectly fine with purchasing a console just to play that one game. Still don’t believe me? Have you seen how fast the Nintendo Switch pre-orders have been selling out? And that system really only has The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild at launch.
This strategy of offering the same game across multiple platforms was designed to offer gamers the most bang for their buck and the ability to have the ‘Xbox’ experience follow you from device to device, and had the lofty goal of turning PC gamers into Xbox gamers. Unfortunately this seems to have had the reverse effect, and pushed players who were interested to in the Microsoft exclusive games to either invest in a gaming PC (which are getting more and more affordable every day) or simply pick up the Xbox One. There’s just no reason to own both an Xbox One and a PC but there are plenty of reasons to get a PC & PS4/Switch, allowing you to play even more games for less of an initial investment.
But there is one possibility, and it’s an odd one but is fairly plausible, so hear me out. Microsoft wants the Xbox One to become irrelevant. Think about it, Microsoft closed their E3 Press Conference by unveiling ‘Project Scorpio’, which they promise will be the most powerful console on the market and surpass even the PlayStation 4 Pro in raw processing power. This console will undoubtedly have a selection of games that can only be experienced on it (Microsoft has gone back and forth on this) which will give Microsoft a huge advantage when it comes to presenting the games to the public since (developer prowess aside) they will be able to showcase the best looking games on the market.
And what’s standing in its way? It’s predecessor. Microsoft couldn’t possibly be planning on supporting two concurrent platforms with a big difference in power and specs, their first/second party studios simply don’t have the ability to churn out titles that would be interesting on the Xbox One and Scorpio so it’s only logical for Microsoft to drop ‘one’. You also have to consider third-party developers and publishers who are already supporting the PS4, PS4 Pro, PS VR, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Switch and PC, so adding another console into the mix would likely lead to them dropping a system regardless.
The Xbox One is a great console, I’ve had plenty of fun with it over the past few years and there’s still a few top-notch games coming to the machine (I can’t wait for Cuphead) but it’s also a system that I don’t really see the point to. It’s first party games also come to PC and third-party titles usually also come to the computer and the PS4, which makes it a hard sell for Microsoft. So what’s the verdict? Is the Xbox One irrelevant? Well my answer is… yes. Why? Because if someone were to ask me today if they should buy an Xbox One, I can’t think of one concrete reason they need to own the system. Sure it may be fun, but it doesn’t offer anything you can’t get somewhere else.