Xbox reputation suffers after Starfield and Redfall delays

An astronaut gazes into the distance in Starfield, one of the big Xbox games slated for 2022 that has been delayed to 2023.

Picture: Bethesda

Driving the video game fandom bus should come with a seat belt warning. To wit: Last month, it seemed like everyone was losing their minds with Microsoft gobbling up half the industry. Now, following some major delays, it’s all “Dead console!!!” this and “Xbox has no exclusives!!!” that. I hope you have buckled up!

There is, to be fair, precedent for watchers to worry about Xbox’s next slate. Throughout the Xbox One’s lifecycle, gamers have (rightly) criticized the platform for having few lightning rod exclusives, especially during its initial launch window. But over the past few years, Microsoft has seen a wave of acquisitions, swelling the ranks of its first-party studios as one console generation dwindled and another began.

By the November 2020 launch of Xbox Series X/S, nearly two dozen studios were under the umbrella of the first part of Xbox. Last March, approved regulators Microsoft’s then-seismic $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax, Bethesda’s parent company and the grandfather (yes, that’s a technical term; no, don’t check it) of a number other prestigious studios, including Arkane, the makers of Dishonored. Then, the big one: In January, Microsoft has declared its intention to buy Activision Blizzard, despite his well-publicized misfortunesfor the price of the defense budget of a European nation.

In the immediate aftermath of the deal, which has been approved by Activision shareholders, who are expected to earn a groundbut still needs the green light from regulators– a lot of attention was paid to the number of studios acquired by Microsoft. Game influencers shared out of breath splash infographic on how many legacy franchises were now technically first-party Xbox games, the implication being that Xbox had the strongest lineup of exclusives. outlets like The edge and The Guardian published trending articles questioning whether or not Microsoft was monopolizing the games industry.

Read more: Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard isn’t great, but neither is it an illegal monopoly

But the tides have turned. Last week, Bethesda announced that would delay star fieldits massive space RPG which was slated for release on November 11, 2022. In the same breath, the company also said it was pushing back on Arkane’s vampire shooter, red fall, originally slated for a summer release. Both are now slated for an undetermined date in the “first half” of 2023, essentially leaving Microsoft’s fall slate — historically the busiest time of the year — devoid of any exclusivity.

“Shit”, the Twitch streamer KidSmoovewhose biography notes that “Xbox is the best box,” said on Twitter. Some people pointy fingers at the head of Xbox Phil Spencer. Others called him a “bad look”, a “public relations nightmare” and used the word “sucks” a lot. Even social media users with accounts named after Xbox – gamers who have come to be pejoratively known as “Xbots” –expressed disappointment.

Observers have pointed to this sea change across the Internet’s preferred form of communication: memes.

A Twitter user's meme captures fans' shifting sentiment towards Xbox.

Since the days of the Xbox One, public opinion about Microsoft has swung like a pendulum; so far this generation, the company has accumulated a source of goodwill. The Xbox Series X/S was a head and shoulders improvement on the Xbox One, and has only gotten better since launch, thanks to a steady wave of updates and quality improvements. life. Last fall, the console release schedule was anchored by Infinite Halo and Forza Horizon 5, two highly anticipated new entries in the acclaimed Xbox series. (Both series records broken.) And that’s to say nothing of Microsoft’s hugely popular on-demand games service, Xbox Game Pass, which regularly adds some of the best games to its rotating library. red fall and star field were highly anticipated additions to Microsoft’s ecosystem, so the joint delay has tarnished that goodwill a bit as a result.

Some fans, however, took the hit in stride. Many recognize that a delayed game is better than another cyberpunkto borrow an expression would have assigned to select Bethesda developers. (That said, there is a feeling there it can basically be summed up as follows: “star field better be amazing, OR OTHERWISE. “) A running joke: Bethesda, instead of having a brand new game for the fall, might just release Skyrim again for the 71st time. (Deserved.) The “Best Bit” award, however, goes to this tongue-in-cheek video from the Twitch streamer TheGladihater:

Kidding aside, it’s not like the Xbox lineup is completely dry this fall. It’s just not as stacked like it was last week. Several Xbox “console exclusives” are planned for this year, including cyberpunk platformer Replacedthe horror game Contemptand the post-apocalyptic shooter STALKER 2. These games don’t have release dates set in ink yet for a host of reasons, not the least of which can be attributed to game development in the midst of a fucking pandemic, but are nonetheless still slated for 2022. (Of course, any of these could be delayed.)

And then there are the unknown variables. Microsoft’s June showcase, which despite the cancellation of E3, still going as planned. It’s unclear what will show up there or what other potential pressers Microsoft has planned for the year. Xbox representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

About Sara Rodriquez

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