Despite being two excellent game consoles, exclusive games and a massive following mean Sony’s gaming machines will nearly always have the advantage over Xbox. Yet I don’t think that matters.
Last month, I noted how the poor launch of Redfall puts a lot of pressure on Starfield to be a huge hit, otherwise the Xbox brand could wither. While I stand by that idea, I may have been a little hasty.
That’s because the Xbox Games Showcase and Starfield Direct came out swinging on Sunday, June 11, and part of the so-called ‘Summer of Gaming.’
Xbox Games Showcase: all killer, no filler
The Xbox Games Showcase was well-paced with no fluff. Trailers, many featuring in-game footage, came and went at a fine clip. And while some may bemoan the lack of solid release dates, I felt the showcase had something for everyone. Throughout the whole thing, I pretty much had a goofy grin on my normally cynical face, lapping up the announcements alongside some of the puns Xbox seem to enjoy dropping in.
For people who only really play very specific games, Microsoft and Xbox didn’t forget about them. Case in point, while I have no inclination or fantasy to play the role of an airline delivery pilot, I appreciate that some might. So I was low-key impressed to see the variety of piloting roles that’ll be added to Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. And though I’m more of a Star Wars: Squadrons person, I couldn't help but grin at the addition of Dune’s semi-iconic ornithopter to Flight Simulator.
Other examples of this servicing of particular fans could be seen with the Monkey Island content being added to Sea of Thieves. Again, this isn’t a game I’m invested in, but I applaud Xbox for not ignoring the fans that have a vested interest in Rare’s semi-swashbuckling sim.
Of course, following the Xbox showcase we got a deeper dive into Starfield, which I suspect tickled the fancy of more serious ‘gamers’ — I know a few people, including our own Rory Mellon, who feel more sold on Bethesda’s vast sci-fi game after the showcase.
All this hammers home that Microsoft and Xbox still understand its gaming audience. And it emphasizes how Xbox is less about hardware and pure next-generation gaming, and more about enabling people to play what they want where they want (devices like the Asus ROG Ally helping enable the latter more than ever).
Sure, Xbox has had a few swings and misses, with Redfall being a stinging blow against the brand. But as the showcase errr… showcased, there’s a heck of a lot more to Xbox than triple-A games and exclusives.
So while I still believe the PS5 presents the best next-gen gaming experience, Xbox offers the consoles, services and library for everyone, not just the dedicated gaming enthusiasts.
And that’s extremely promising for the world of gaming, heading into the second half of 2023 and on to 2024. It’s just a shame we heard nothing about Hollow Knight Silksong.