The news that there will be no mainline Halo entry this year may be disappointing to some, but I think it’s a great opportunity for Microsoft to work on shifting their branding away from franchises that lack the same luster they once held.
I’m a huge fan of Halo. I remember spending hours upon hours playing local multiplayer with my friends back in the day on Lockdown. I’ve replayed the campaigns in Halo 1, 2, 3 and Reach more times than I can count. However, as much as I enjoy the Halo franchise, I can’t say that I get overly excited anymore when the next game in the series is announced. Part of that is due to how 343 has handled the campaigns in 4 and 5, but that’s a topic for another time.
I’m more interested in the new stuff that Microsoft has up its sleeve this year. The Xbox One is lacking in the exclusives department when compared to the PS4. There’s no denying that. For far too long Microsoft has relied on the same franchises year after year instead of bringing new IP into the mix, and it has finally caught up with them – I say that as a fan of many of Microsoft’s long-running franchises like Gears of War and Forza.
With no new Gears of War or Halo (aside from Halo Wars 2) launching this year, unless some sort of spin-off is introduced, Microsoft has a great opportunity to introduce some much needed diversity into their line-up and keep the spotlight on those titles. Titles like State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, and Crackdown 3 are a good start and are the type of games that tend to do well on the Xbox platform. Though, I’m not necessarily sure I see any of those as platform sellers like Halo and Gears of War.
As a side note, I fully expect Crackdown 3 to be a major showcase title for Project Scorpio this year. Hopefully it’s more than just a technical showpiece game though.
You may or may not agree with this, but narrative-focused single player titles tend to do much better on Sony’s platform compared to the socially-focused Microsoft platform. Financial flops like Ryse: Son of Rome, Sunset Overdrive, and even Quantum Break (stats via VGCharts estimated) should spell out to you why you don’t see a whole lot of those types of exclusives on the Xbox One. I’m not sure if that will ever change for Microsoft unless they undertake a single player exclusive on the scale of something like Horizon: Zero Dawn.
The Xbox One in general is doing fine as a platform, regardless of a lack of exclusives. However, I don’t think, as of right now, Microsoft has any exclusives that define the console like the PS4 or Nintendo have. Having cancelled titles like Fable Legends and Scalebound didn’t exactly help the company’s image. However, I think it’s entirely better to cancel products that don’t live up to expectations, than release something that might tarnish the image of Microsoft’s exclusive line-up even more. The situation isn’t as dire as many outlets would like you to believe, but there’s plenty of room for Microsoft to improve here, and they know it.
With a lack of leaks this year, we don’t have a lot to go off of, but my hope is that Microsoft has been paying attention to Sony’s use of their first party studios and begins to imitate that in some form. Microsoft needs to be more ambitious with their exclusive titles instead of just going for what sells, not only for the sales, but for the fans that continue to support the platform.