Yesterday, Bethesda announced that it was delaying its two biggest 2022 games, Redfall and Starfield, into 2023. Delays are certainly the norm for major games these days, but Starfield had promised a hyper specific date that Bethesda expressed supreme confidence in (11.11.22) but more importantly now, they’re a Microsoft studio. And these are Xbox exclusives that are no longer coming this year.
With both of these games delayed until 2023, the current landscape of Xbox exclusive games sure reminds me a whole lot of what we saw during the Xbox One era. No, not in terms of hardware like the Kinect, and certainly the Series X/S launched with better tech and Xbox Game Pass has been doing great.
But in terms of first party releases? The thing Xbox struggled with compared to PlayStation for the entire generation? Yeah, that part feels a little familiar.
Let’s go in reverse order here, shall we?
In 2022 now, the delay of Redfall and Starfield means that Xbox will effectively have no major exclusive releases this entire year. Not to say there aren’t some good games in there like Tunic, and we may see something like Scorn make it out before the end of the year, but these are not on the same scale. And even if Sony ends up delaying God of War Ragnarok to 2023 (which seems borderline inevitable at this point), PlayStation still released the excellent Horizon Forbidden West this year, at the very least.
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Back in 2021, this is the time period where yes, Xbox did manage to get a few of its highest profile games out. As ever, Forza Horizon 5 was excellent, though you will recall that series was also the highlight of the Xbox One era. Halo Infinite launched after a year delay to relatively solid reviews, but since then, things have unraveled with the game’s transition into being a live multiplayer title, which has brought six month seasons and an eternally cumbersome progression system. Players are constantly unhappy and 343 is frequently apologizing for this or that thing they’ve gotten wrong. Sony, meanwhile, had lots of hits, Ratchet and Clank, Returnal and Deathloop, to name a few.
And all the way back in 2020, Xbox essentially ceded the entire launch window to PlayStation because it had delayed Halo Infinite, which no longer released with the Series X/S. Sony, meanwhile, had Demon’s Souls and Miles Morales for the PS5.
Now today, we have entered at truly bizarre situation where PlayStation has published more Bethesda games than Xbox in the first two years (with Deathloop). Even the ever-positive Phil Spencer sounded a tad bit irritated when he commented on the double delay announcement:
In short, while the hardware and services may be better, Xbox is in close to the exact same position when it comes to first party releases that it was in the early Xbox One era, and Microsoft is not living up to its promise of hit first party games released every three months. While yes, we have many, many potentially big hits on the way, between delays and nebulous timetables and questionable production reports, it’s anyone’s guess when most of them will arrive, and what state they’ll be in. Hopefully the latter half of this generation comes with fantastic Xbox megahits, but two years in, we’ve barely seen any of that potential realized, despite Microsoft saying they wanted to make it he focus of this gen.