Xbox Had A Good Day Today

Xbox Had A Good Day Today

The first six months of 2024 sucked for Xbox. In January, the company sacked a tremendous number of people. In May, it closed several successful studios, drawing ire from even its most die-hard supporters. This morning, it debuted its traditional June showcase, what would in years past have been its big E3 blowout. It was the company’s first big, unqualified success for the year.

Compared to a fairly staid, smaller-scale Summer Game Fest conference, Xbox Games Showcase felt like an old-school E3 presser. There were debut trailers for games we already knew about, like Fable, Perfect Dark, and Dragon Age: The Valeguard. We saw announcements of cool-looking new games like Doom: The Dark Ages, Age of Mythology Retold, and Fragpunk. There were fresh trailers for games due out later this year, like Indiana Jones and the Great Circle and Avowed, and they even got to debut the first snippet of gameplay from Assassin’s Creed Shadows.

It felt a bit like the old days when Xbox welcomed blockbusters from third-party publishers to its showcase with open arms. This was, of course, mainly due to the fact that Xbox now owns two of those publishers.

The games were also fairly varied, and it seemed like quite a few were traditional single-player experiences. That, in and of itself, is pretty exciting. At least someone is willing to throw money and marketing budget behind AAA single-player games in 2024. One could easily and reasonably complain that there weren’t enough small games among the AAA megaprojects — there weren’t, and I think Xbox needs to look at that for next time. But the wins across the rest of the show will be worth their weight in good PR, and I saw no end of happy devs on Twitter celebrating a showcase with minimal leaks and a chance to finally show their games to the public. The response from fans online has also been broadly positive, an increasing rarity in an age of 5v5 hero shooters announced every other day (Xbox also announced one of these).

Phil Spencer even went on IGN Live and got through an interview with Ryan McAffrey without making any serious flubs. When asked about the recent layoffs, Spencer expressed sadness and a bit of PR fluff, but stood by the decision. I think McAffrey should have followed up and pressed Spencer on the topic, but at least he asked the question. He also drew a candid response from Spencer on the consequences of a $70 billion acquisition — it created a ton of extra work for everyone in management positions. “For the management team, we all have the same job of running Xbox, but then we all added a second job of working through regulatory,” Spencer told IGN. “It’s my fault as head of business that we didn’t internalize what a drain it would be on the team.” Why Spencer didn’t anticipate one of the biggest media mergers in history resulting in more work is a bit of a mystery, but I’m glad he’s open to talking about it.

Today was a win for Xbox when it badly needed it. If it wants to have any hope of washing the bad taste of January-June out of everyone’s mouths, it will need to drop banger after banger all the way to Christmas. It will need to make sure that sacrificing all those jobs on the altar of capital and infinite growth wasn’t in vain. Based on today’s showcase, it stands a decent chance of doing that. Will Game Pass continue to create headaches for its business model? Will the new digital-only Series X be the thing that suddenly gets people buying the console? We’ll see.

Xbox had a good day today. For the studios and developers toiling away internally, that will be enough.

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