At this point, Microsoft is no stranger to buying other companies to roll into its Xbox Studios umbrella. In 2020, it bought Zenimax and along with it gained Bethesda and all its intellectual property. At the start of 2022, it was announced that the green machine’s next acquisition would be Activision Blizzard, the company behind Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty. But even though the year is young, it’s shaping up to be one that heavily favours Xbox gamers.
In a recent podcast, YouTuber ‘Rand al Thor’ stated that he heard “through the grapevine” that nearly every internal Xbox studio submitted something for the Xbox Games Showcase at Summer Games Fest, with some even submitting more than one. This year’s Xbox showcase allegedly clocks in at a whopping 90 minutes, too, and given Phil Spencer’s propensity for wasting as little time as possible and just letting the games speak for themselves, we’re looking at a substantial showing of games we know are in the works, like Starfield, Redfall, State of Decay 3, Perfect Dark, and more.
With all the previous acquisitions starting to bear development fruit, and Activision Blizzard right behind them, you can’t help but compare it to what the competition is up to, and well, it doesn’t look like it’s up to much. Apart from announcing an overhaul to its PS Plus and PS Now subscription services, we don’t have concrete dates for any of Sony’s flagship titles, such as God of War Ragnarok.
Granted, we’ve seen Sony exclusives Gran Turismo 7 and Horizon Forbidden West release this year, but the Japanese giant’s offerings are looking meagre and unconfident next to Microsoft’s propositions. Game Pass, for example, allows players access to hundreds of games, many of which come to the service on release day, something that’s even guaranteed for Microsoft’s first-party titles.
Add to this initiatives like Xbox Cloud Gaming that are forward-looking, the accessibility and inclusivity settings included in Xbox consoles and games, and the company’s dedication to taking onboard player feedback and it’s a potent combination that results in sheer value for the consumer. Yes, PlayStation exclusive series like The Last of Us, Uncharted, and God of War are always top-tier experiences, but for how long can they alone hold off Microsoft?
Sony has also increased the price of its games since the launch of the PS5, and it’s moves like these that only serve to make Xbox a more appealing place to play for those who play games as their main hobby. At this point, Game Pass makes buying individual games feel like an outdated practice – and maybe that’s the point, from a business perspective.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t come from a place of Xbox fan-ism. I have no brand loyalty and own both consoles as any self-respecting gamer should. Rather, as someone who has owned every Sony and Microsoft console since their inception, this is an objective observation – and one I wish was wrong.
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Phil Spencer clearly took it to heart when gamers criticised the Xbox’s lack of “good” games when he took over the brand in 2014, and in response he set about acquiring studio after studio. Now those studios have had time to put the work in on their projects, Xbox gamers are starting to see those acquisitions pay off. Those projects will all release day one on Game Pass, and that changes the way we look at events like the Xbox Showcase, as they now serve as hype for games you know you already “own.”
Sony’s event presence, meanwhile, has been focused around indie games or timed-exclusives that will still eventually come to Xbox, like Deathloop. Lately, we’ve not seen much from its first-party studios, and that’s a problem when your main strategy relies on them. Sony can attend the same events, with games that are good (if not better), but it’s taking the same old game plan to tease you with exclusive games you have to purchase individually. Except this time, thanks to inflation, you’ll now have to dig down the back of your sofa for change or resort to pinching notes from your nan’s purse to see what happens to Kratos and Atreus.
Unless Sony has a couple of wild cards up its sleeves come June, then 2022 is shaping up to be the year of Xbox. And, if Microsoft does plan to show something from each of its studios, Sony’s offerings are going to get lost in a deluge of prominent games that will be free to anyone who has Game Pass.