The Xbox One has faced many struggles since the news of it’s existence; digital-only, Kinect being required, price, and recently, a lack of exclusives. Not lack of exclusives in the pipeline, mind you; there is plenty planned. The problem is, right now, there is next to nothing. Both Sony and Nintendo have found a great strength in bringing back some of their fan favorites to generate buzz for their consoles while also providing a way to pad out their release schedule. Remakes also create reasons for new customers to take the plunge into existing franchises and existing customers to double dip (you can read more regarding my opinion on remakes here), but it seems Microsoft didn’t exactly get the memo.
New IP Struggles
Microsoft has a history when it comes to IP’s, most have been acquired through some means or another and essentially gutted once Microsoft got a hold of them. Banjo Kazooie has become the poster child for what happens to most franchises once laid open on the operating table by Microsoft–shells of their former selves they all become and exist thenceforth in name only, having little to nothing too do with what made their predecessors successful. On the other hand, there is a bevy of intellectual properties that Microsoft has been sitting on since the release of the original Xbox :
- Blood Wake (a personal favorite)
- Conker’s Bad Fur Day
- Voodoo Vince
I picked these few for a very specific reason: they would fill holes currently in the Xbox One’s exclusive lineup–a vehicular combat game, a funny game, and a platformer (something Microsoft has always lacked). In addition, the games listed all had a fairly good reception when they where released, so it’s not as if damage-control would be required if they made a return (unlike… Banjo Kazooie ). But, the main point is that they were never continued for one reason or another, and if they were built upon rather then left by the wayside, they would be established franchises for Microsoft to lean on now.
Few Surviving Franchises
Xbox is synonymous with shooters for good reason: its main franchise is a shooter (Halo… but you all knew that) and when it comes to Call of Duty, Microsoft and Activision are best buddies. But, it takes more than just your main franchise being a shooter and you being good buddies with another big shooter for you to gain that synonymity. It also takes having no additional franchises to associate your brand with. Sony is a good example of being in the exact opposite situation; you would be hard placed to pick a main franchise for Playstation, and, even if you could, there would be several other franchises challenging that claim in this generation and the previous.
Microsoft, however, in the past generation, had two winning franchises. Halo (go figure) and Gears of War (Microsoft now owns); both being shooters: one first-person, one third-person. There were a few other franchises but those are not owned by Microsoft and/or have since become multi-platform in some form (e.g., Dead Rising ). There were also single entries of new franchises and single entries of existing franchises, but they were never built upon either due to failing or Microsoft simply not wanting to fund a new entry for another reason. Microsoft, ironically enough, is now suffering due to its previous success.
The Xbox 360, from an offering standpoint, should of never beaten the PS3. The PS3 had better specs and more exclusives (good ones at that); but, for various other reasons, the PS3 remained behind the Xbox 360 for the rest of its life (PS3 sales increased heavily later in its life). While Sony was behind, it worked on and built various franchises, many of which (due to the PS3’s initial issues) never reached their potential (as most people had Xbox 360’s at the time). Now all of those franchises such as God of War, The Last of Us, Uncharted, InFamous, and Killzone have been or are being planned for new entries on the PS4. In addition to that, a few of those games will (or have already) see a remake in some form to help pepper the PS4’s release schedule when things are slow.
Microsoft, however, doesn’t have this large bench to pull from right now, just when it needs it most.
Build Now or Face This Issue Again
This is a real issue for Microsoft that is now rearing its ugly head and the same might happen again later in the One’s life. Microsoft needs to take the time and commit to a few more franchises, so in the One’s later life and in their next console, they have a bench full of franchises that have at least been partially built up to something notable. Then, Microsoft can take advantage of those franchises they built, removing the shooter dude bro persona Xbox has cultivated, while peppering in remakes to help boost their lineup and bring new people in. Microsoft did a good job with the Master Chief Collection to catch up those who have never been exposed to the Halo franchise, but Halo is not enough. With news of a Gears of War remake on the way, perhaps Microsoft is getting the message, but those two franchises alone will not cut it later in the One’s life nor will they be enough to carry Microsoft’s next console.