Now Xbox is really scary - editorial

Now Xbox is really scary - editorial

We have said this over and over over the past few years. "This is the defining moment for Xbox", "this is the occasion when Phil Spencer can finally make use of his long-term strategy", "now or never". And after years of suggestions and acquisitions, of initiatives and half-disappointments, the gaming division of Microsoft presented itself on the stage of E3 with a conference that was scary.

Over thirty games announced, at least twenty-seven available on Xbox Game Pass since launch, half of these are first party. An impressive catalog, capable of covering practically any creative dimension, from racing to simulation, from strategic to role-playing, from the purely narrative title to the little gem in pixel art.

But it's not so scary to be really scary the Microsoft + Bethesda event that aired in front of half a million people, but the other presentation, the one that is still safe in the drawer of some Redmond office, the one we will probably never see.

Starfield is there, and it will be an Xbox exclusive. Scary are all those titles that have chosen not to set foot on the stage of E3 2021. Avowed, Hellblade 2, Perfect Dark, Forza Motorsport, Fable, Project Mara, Everwild, State of Decay 3, Wolfenstein, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls and company. What is frightening is the fact that, if only it wanted, Microsoft could put on a second conference tomorrow even more impressive than what has been without a doubt the best show in recent years.

Aaron Greenberg could sit on the sofa and wait for the next edition of the Los Angeles event without doing anything, so the line-up would be already beautiful and ready, while the gears of the Xbox Game Pass, a machine, would do the talking. which from next July will host practically one AAA video game per month in its catalog. Perhaps this was Microsoft's strategy, namely the weaving of a plot between first and third parties capable of monopolizing an entire videogame year.

27 July: it will be the Flight Simulator moment, followed two days later by The Ascent. These will be quickly joined by third parties Sable, Aragami 2, Hades and Back 4 Blood. No time to breathe and Age of Empires 4 and the splendid Forza Horizon 5 will arrive. Once the races in Mexico are over, it will finally be the turn of Halo: Infinite. And then? Well, then 2022 will start and besides Stalker 2, A Plague Tale, Replaced and all the others, some well-known faces may finally return to tease the fans.

Game Pass is there, and it's the best service in the world of video games. Ah, Bethesda Softworks 'Starfield and Arkane Studios' Redfall will be Xbox exclusive consoles. In short, if Phil Spencer wakes up on the wrong foot tomorrow morning, he could decide that there will never be a chapter of The Elders Scrolls or a Fallout chapter on competing hardware. But deep down we all know that dear old Spencer is a nice man, right? He'd never do that, right?

The future is a hazy place for anyone who doesn't embrace the Xbox ecosystem. While this might seem like a slogan worthy of the Galactic Empire, it's hard to be a veteran of Microsoft's event without having the perception that the company has grabbed the keys to the video game industry: now it just has to tighten its grip. Everything that has been shown, and especially what has been kept hidden, suggests that we are only at the beginning of a winning cycle.

Perhaps no potential system sellers or eligible candidates for the Game of the Year have emerged, perhaps Sony's extraordinary studios will continue to produce artistically unattainable video games, but Microsoft's new arsenal has begun to fire with the cadence of a gatling. Maybe Jim Ryan will sleep soundly thinking about the next Naughty Dog game or enjoying a preview of God of War Ragnarok, but certainly not those who will have the thankless task of challenging the Game Pass on behalf of Amazon and Google.

Forza 5 is there, and it hardly seems real to behold. Speaking of PlayStation, it is possible that the house has carefully observed E3 remaining in the shadows, ready to launch a feline paw in that of July, perhaps unleashing Kratos from the top hat. But then there would be QuakeCon and, look, QuakeCon is now from Microsoft, which has over a dozen dormant IPs to plug into the charger in case of need.

Obviously we can't talk about checkmate to the industry. The only check there is, even mad, is that inflicted by Xbox Game Pass on the world of subscription services in the orbit of video games. There is no escape there and yes, maybe it will be only thanks to the huge investments, the desire to pull out billions and push even at a loss, but today there are no more excuses: those who criticize the Game Pass offer are in bad faith, period and that's it.

The ability to play several hundred titles for the price of one and a half video game, including dozens of exclusives and as many available on day one, is a weapon that knows no comparatives, something that will change for always the entire sector. And it is possible that a day will come when the issue of sustainability will be raised, or that of quality or that of monopoly, but this is certainly not the day.

Halo: Infinite is there, and this time is not afraid. Today is a good day for those who love video games. It is a good day for those who own a PlayStation 5 and have no plans to change sides, because Sony will have to raise the bar further following the awakening of its direct competitor. It's a good day for Xbox owners, because the showcase will surely have a smile on their face. It's a good day for anyone who owns both machines and a PC, because there are tons of great titles coming up and they won't have to choose what to buy between a Back 4 Blood and any Age of Empires 4.

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Between a photograph in the Mexican labyrinth of Forza Horizon and a tear of nostalgia shed in front of Eiyuden Chronicle, the Microsoft event has awakened the E3 from a torpor that had been briefly cracked by the Elden Ring alone, bringing back the memory to that fair that no longer exists about which we have talked so much in recent days.

The hope is that the same fate can touch the ninth generation of video game consoles, a next-gen that left silently, in the midst of a global pandemic, announcing sparkling fireworks that, except in rare cases, were slow to arrive.

A generation that, suddenly , could soar and finally take off in the midst of dozens of amazing experiences, driven by a number of market leaders who aim to look into their respective golden ages, proudly looking at each other as equals.

Sony is still at the top but Microsoft is there, while Nintendo could give a new jolt. And video games, which are still as good as they once were, could become even more so.

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