Xbox Series X and S a year later

Xbox Series X and S a year later

Twelve months have passed since the launch of the latest generation consoles, but many have not even noticed. The beginning of the new era was decidedly slow, despite the excellent sales of the hardware, due to the changed market conditions, which make it impossible to abruptly abandon the previous generation. So it makes sense to ask what became of the Xbox Series X and S a year later, the first next-gen consoles to hit the market.

The first few months

Xbox Series X and Series S in a render Let's face it: the launch of the Xbox Series X and S was not the luckiest. There was no shortage of games, but the big boys all came from third parties and were cross-platform. On November 10, 2020, when the two new consoles were now available in stores, their buyers were able to choose from more than thirty games, with only The Falconeer as an exclusive "weight", moreover temporal. In fact, other Xbox Game Studios products were also launched immediately, but all already released on Xbox One and updated as needed for the Series (Gears 5, Gears Tactics and Forza Horizon 4).

Missing was an exclusive that made the new hardware shine. In Microsoft's initial plans this was to be Halo Infinite, so much so that the console marketing, now set, was full of references to the title of 343 Industries, but the reactions to the first presentation of the game, which took place during the summer of 2020, had convinced the House of Redmond to postpone it for a year, leaving the Series uncovered in their first months of life. Those who say that games were missing are lying, because in reality a console has never been launched with so many products already playable, especially thanks to backwards compatibility, but of course a new hardware does not make it attractive with stuff from a generation or two before, however pumped up. .

The Falconeer is a good title, but not capable of selling a console Anyway it would be unfair to say that Microsoft had no cards to play: over the last few years it has strengthened the Xbox ecosystem so much, in particular on the services side, to be able to sell the new machines even only as a privileged gateway to the Xbox Game Pass subscription, to which they are double-bound. Furthermore, to say that Xbox Series X and S were failures in their first few months of life would be simply false, as they have sold out every time they have been released. In particular, the first is still nowhere to be found in stores, a sign that the interest of the players for what is now the current generation is there and is very high. Let's say that it did talk less about the competition, yes, but many have nevertheless found a reason to make the leap.

Of course, it should also be remembered that there was no lack of problems. For example, in the early months technical analysis of cross-platform titles always seemed to reward PS5 versions, despite the lower power on paper than Xbox Series X. The reason for this strange situation emerged fairly quickly: Microsoft's console devkits arrived. later in the hands of the developers.

Gears 5 has been updated for Xbox Series X and S Quite simply, many had not had enough time to learn how to take advantage of Series features, paying the price for performance. With the passing of the months the situation has normalized and today no one is surprised anymore when the best version of a game on console is the one for Xbox Series X.

As we said, what Microsoft has done very well right from the start is to focus everything on services. We have already mentioned the Xbox Game Pass, but at least the Smart Delivery should also be mentioned, that is the system that automatically identifies the hardware in use by installing the most appropriate version of a game. At first, it seemed like an uninteresting function to many, but over the months it proved to be absolutely successful, especially in comparison to the cumbersome systems of updating and transferring the bailouts of the competition. Another important point of Microsoft's strategy should also be noted, which if we want is also linked to Smart Delivery: price management. Not only has the company not increased those of the first party titles, but with a single purchase they bring home all the versions of the games that adhere to the Microsoft program, without upgrades to buy separately to switch to the more modern ones. Even this choice, over time, has proved successful in terms of marketing.

Suffering on the exclusives side, the power of ads

The Medium is a good game, but it is not able to stir the crowds Unfortunately, the weakness on the side of exclusive games has persisted for several months and is undeniable. Let's say that until August 2021 the only significant (temporal) exclusive of Xbox was The Medium, certainly a good title, but certainly not capable of moving the crowds. At the same time, the competition was not watching and, after a rich launch line-up, held the ground in the following months with at least two games of great depth: Returnal and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. Meanwhile, it was an unexpected factor that kept Xbox alive: the announcement.

After a period of acquisitions of medium-small studios (Obsidian, inXile, Ninja Theory and so on), Microsoft dropped the bomb: the Zenimax group would have joined the Xbox Game Studios. It was a couple of months before the Series launch and the news galvanized the hearts of many.

Starfield: last year's Xbox marketing was largely based on acquisitions This meant having the titles of Bethesda, MachineGames, Arkane Studios and all the other software houses of the group exclusively on Xbox. Only the prospect of Xbox-exclusive Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI produced marketing results that not even the launch of a big game could ever have. For months nothing else was talked about, even after the new consoles were now available and 2020 was now behind us.

The problem of exclusives remained: it's okay to have bright prospects for the future and to be able to dream, but why buy a Series when in 2021 the competition will launch Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 and God of War: Ragnarok, in addition to the two titles already mentioned?

Microsoft recovers, aided by Sony

Forza Horizon 5 is the title with the highest metascore of 2021, at least so far In the second half of 2021 this has happened which was simply considered unthinkable: the exclusivity situation has completely reversed. Sony was forced to announce the postponement of three games to 2022 (those mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph), while Xbox Series X and S have begun to see the release of the first exclusive titles of Xbox Game Studios (or of funded projects in full by Microsoft). Microsoft Flight Simulator arrived in late July and really convinced everyone, amazing for its technical virtues and for console optimization. We're talking about a niche game, but that didn't stop it from being center stage for a while. The fact that many have used it to create beautiful virtual images certainly helped. Psychonauts 2, released in late August, was also released on PS4, but was perceived by many as an Xbox game, due to the fact that the only next-generation version made available by Double Fine was the Xbox Series X ( the PC is a story unto itself, as always). Also in this case we are talking about a title that has received excellent reviews, so much so that some would like to see it elected game of the year.

Psychonauts 2 is a serious candidate for GOTY Finally there was Forza Horizon 5, an arcade racing game of incredible workmanship, as well as the title with the best metascore of 2021, considered by many to be the first real show of strength of the next-gen. If we want there is also Halo Infinite, which however has yet to come out and which will fall in the second year of the console (it will be released on December 8, 2021). However, a good part of the communication of the title has been made in recent months and certainly the fact that it comes out in the Christmas season has made it perceive by many as a game of the first year, on a par with Forza Horizon 5.

In short, after a slow start, the Series have begun to show their teeth, thanks also to the almost desertification of the competition, which moreover has very few right on a communicative level (see the October State of Play and the issue of updates to Horizon Forbidden West ). Paradoxically, the postponement of Halo Infinite, which penalized the first Christmas of the new Xboxs so much, was useful to Microsoft, allowing it to show off two prestigious titles for the end of 2021, favored, as already mentioned, also by the weakness of the offer. playful of the competition, which has left a highway in front of him.

Will Halo Infinite end Xbox 2021 on a high note? In summary, the first year of Xbox Series X and S was overall positive, with ups and downs. Surely there is a difference in level between the beginning of the life cycle of the consoles and the current situation, of strong recovery, also of image. Recovery that many simply did not expect. At this point all that remains is to see how the second year will go and if the kidney stroke will help or if the Xbox will suffer again.

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