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7 surprising absences from the Xbox Games Showcase

The Xbox Games Showcase was incredible, but we're shocked we didn't see the likes of Ark 2, Towerborne, and the rumored Xbox handheld console.

Xbox Games Showcase: A split image showing Spyro the purple dragon snarling and a close-up of Vin Diesel in Ark 2 with tribal tattoos

Now that was a show. Microsoft has just smashed it out the park with its Xbox Games Showcase, with sensational reveals for Gears of War E-Day, a new glimpse at Fable, loads of Call of Duty Black Ops 6 details, and so much more. While it absolutely surpassed expectations, there were a few Xbox games and announcements that were surprisingly missing.

We got a look at so many incredible new Xbox games, almost all of which will be joining the Xbox Game Pass library when they arrive, and that even included seemingly-doomed projects like the Perfect Dark reboot and State of Decay 3. The showcase did an amazing job at updating fans on the majority of its upcoming Xbox exclusives and its new hardware products. But we can’t help but feel there were a few key things missing that we really wanted to see.

Activision Blizzard Game Pass drop

We really thought a collection of Activision Blizzard games would be announced (or shadow-dropped) for Xbox Game Pass, in a similar fashion to the huge Bethesda drop that happened in 2021 after Microsoft’s ZeniMax acquisition. We know it’s still relatively early on in Activision Blizzard’s Xbox era, but there were plenty of signs pointing towards more of its games becoming available on Xbox Game Pass.

Earlier this year, things kicked off with Diablo 4 joining the service (and becoming one of the best Xbox Game Pass games in the process). We’ve also seen various PC listings appear for Activision titles on their Xbox store pages, such as the Spyro Reignited Trilogy and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2.

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Plus, with the announcement that Black Ops 6 would be hitting Game Pass on day one, adding older CoD titles (or at the very least its predecessor, Black Ops Cold War) would have gone down a storm. However, no such announcement happened – this month’s additions are limited to these new Game Pass games, for now.

Ark 2

While not a first-party game, Microsoft has reportedly paid a fair amount to secure exclusivity at launch for the next Ark game. With the Ark 2 release date set to arrive towards the “end of 2024” according to developer Studio Wildcard, we felt like it was a certainty for the showcase. Alas, Vin Diesel and co. were nowhere to be seen.

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Since Ark 2 was announced, we’ve had two cinematic trailers starring Diesel, but haven’t seen a single morsel of gameplay. In 2022, this chunky Xbox Wire blog post outlined the ambitious gameplay changes and improvements that were being made, but that’s all we’ve really heard about the survival game. Its absence at the Xbox Showcase (or Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest show, for that matter) has us a bit worried that it’s going to be hit with another delay and will slip into 2025.

That rumored Xbox handheld

We saw three new Xbox consoles during the showcase, and none of them were the handheld device that had been so heavily rumored in the build up to Summer Game Fest. When images of some covered up plinths circulated before the event, we felt sure that underneath one of them would be a Steam Deck-esque prototype for some future handheld hardware. Instead, we got some paint jobs and better storage for the existing Series X and S.

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You’re not leaving Summer Game Fest totally empty-handed though. In an interview with IGN after the Xbox Showcase, Phil Spencer says “we [Xbox] should have a handheld” and “I think being able to play games locally [on handhelds] is really important.” If you ask us, that all but confirms that Microsoft are cooking one up – it’s just not ready to show off yet.


Now this one was a real surprise. Like Ark 2, Towerborne is slated for a 2024 release, but unlike Ark 2, we’ve actually seen a good amount of the game already. Plus, earlier this year it expanded its pre-launch playtesting, another good sign that things were cracking along. A new trailer and a narrowed down release window or firm date seemed super likely, yet there was no sign of Towerborne.

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This vibrant side-scrolling co-op game may not be the most high-profile Xbox exclusive in the pipeline, but we’re still surprised that it didn’t get wheeled out for the showcase. Once the stream had wrapped, the devs did say that more info would be arriving later this summer, but it’s still an odd omission.

Neon White

The Xbox port of Angel Matrix’s slick speedrunning shooter, Neon White, still appears to be lost in the gaming Bermuda Triangle. A whole year after its initial reveal as a Game Pass inductee, White and pals are nowhere to be seen. Though they looked ripe for a quick reintroduction – be it at last month’s ID@Xbox showcase or as part of a brief advertising cameo at the Xbox Showcase – it looks like we won’t be seeing our favorite gang of masked sinners popping demons anytime soon.

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With a bit of luck, it won’t be too much longer until we can hear Steve Blum’s iconic vocals permeate our ears on Xbox. For now, then, we’re looking to Gamescom in August for a sign of life.


The final two entries on this list are less egregious omissions than the ones prior, but we still felt that they had a decent chance of featuring at the Xbox Showcase. The first is Contraband, Avalanche Studios’ next open-world game, which got a short but very sweet conceptual reveal trailer all the way back in 2021. Since then, we’ve heard next to nothing about Contraband, save for the recent reports that it is being hit with a big delay internally.

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Regardless, we had hoped that we’d maybe get some kind of CGI trailer introducing us to the setting and/or some characters. While we’re not massively surprised about its absence, we are a bit heartbroken – the vibes of that Steely Dan-dubbed reveal trailer are still immaculate.

The Outer Worlds 2

In a similar vein to Contraband, Obsidian’s sequel to one of the best RPG games of the last console generation has had a short announcement trailer, and little else. We know it’s probably a couple years out yet, at least, but we were hopeful that we’d get another tongue-in-cheek teaser for it.

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It is understandable though that The Outer Worlds 2 didn’t feature, especially as Avowed was given another splash of marketing during the show with a fresh trailer. That’s not going to stop us feeling sad about its absence though, alright?

So, while we did get 30 incredible games, three consoles, and a full-on deep dive into Black Ops 6, these were the seven announcements we thought could (and, in some cases, should) have also featured.

For more coverage from the show, check out Aaron’s reaction to that glorious Gears of War E-Day reveal, the news that Starfield mods have finally arrived on Xbox, and Sam’s thoughts on new hero shooter FragPunk. For even more Xbox goodness, give us a follow over on Google News so you never miss a beat.