The Game Awards took place on Thursday and was significantly better than previous years. There were some cool reveals including Crash Team Racing and Mortal Kombat 11. If you are a Nintendo fan, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and Joker from Persona 5 coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate were incredible reveals. Unfortunately, for a show that prides itself on world reveals, it seems like a step-down, especially if you’re an Xbox fan. Even with multiple appearances on stage, Phil Spencer didn’t do much to push the brand forward.
I know XO18 was last month, but The Game Awards are every year. It’s a time for the industry to celebrate the best games of the year, and give a glimpse of the future. There were a handful of games coming specifically to PlayStation 4 and PC only. Regarding Xbox console exclusives, Ashen was shown off, but the game launched a few hours before the show. A genuinely surprising announcement would have been Phil Spencer saying “and Ashen is launching right now.”
Instead, we were left with a brief trailer during an intermission. Then there is Studio Wildcard’s new game, Atlas. It will launch on Xbox Game Preview, and honestly, it looks like the version of Sea of Thieves I want to play. I was chatting with friends throughout the entirety of The Game Awards, and the conversation shifted during the Atlas reveal. I kept saying “this looks like Sea of Thieves, but better.” I initially thought it wouldn’t launch on Xbox due to the similarities, but Phil Spencer talked about the brand’s relationship with the studio. With its inclusion in Game Preview, I think it could be a nail in the coffin for Sea of Thieves.
All talk, no show
Microsoft prides itself on the decisions the brand has made as of late. The studio acquisitions, the adaptive controller, and the games coming out in the future. These are all fantastic things, but we live in a time where the Internet wants instant gratification. We are not owed anything, but when the odds are not stacked in your favor, giving people a taste of the future is needed.
Crackdown 3 has a locked date, and as of yesterday, we know that Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Gears of War 5 are 2019 video games. If that’s all we have to look forward to, a new trailer to convince people to invest in the console would’ve been nice. If you’re an Xbox fan like myself, you don’t need a new trailer. The chances are that you have an interest in the Gears of War franchise, and have decided on Ori depending on your feelings regarding the first game. What about those people who only own a PS4? Why would they consider getting an Xbox when none of the new games get time in the spotlight?
Imagine if Below would’ve been revealed at the show? Two games that have been in development for Xbox One had release dates revealed prior to the show. These decisions baffle me.
With more popularity comes better chances for success
I still believe that E3 is one of the most important events for the industry as a whole. Unfortunately, with Nintendo doing Directs, Sony not showing up next year, and Microsoft being off-site, the times are changing. The Game Awards has been bigger, better, and bolder every year. Microsoft needs to step up its game and use the platform as a way to get people talking about Xbox.
Reveal a new game or save a studio acquisition announcement for an event watched by plenty of people. Microsoft is prepping for the next generation in a big way. With a stage as big as The Game Awards, one that has influential people in various industries (The Russo Brothers, Hans Zimmer, Weezer, Christoph Waltz) uniting to talk about the industry we all love. As Geoff Keighley said, The Game Awards was the number one trending topic on Twitter last night. With so many people discussing the program, imagine if Microsoft dropped a bombshell while on stage. For better or worse, the Internet would have been talking about Xbox.
Learn from mistakes and knock it out of the park next time
Microsoft has gotten better throughout the years when it comes to conferences. Gone are the days of talking about TV functionality, and now we’re used to seeing games. Fans want to see what games we’ll be able to play on the console in the future. Luckily, Microsoft has assured consumers that the future looks bright, with the acquisitions of Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Undead Labs, Compulsion Games, Obsidian Entertainment, Inxile Entertainment, and by creating The Initiative. As a fan, I’m thrilled that some fantastic developers have joined the Microsoft family.
Unfortunately, acquisitions mean nothing if there aren’t games to entice consumers to buy a Microsoft product. The Game Awards is an excellent platform to make announcements. Phil Spencer was there celebrating the industry we all love. It’s just a shame that they couldn’t capitalize on the event. Going forward, Microsoft should save some surprises for the show. Maybe they should’ve saved the Below and Ashen announcements for when Phil walked on stage. A Gears 5 trailer could have been phenomenal. This year’s The Game Awards was a missed opportunity for Microsoft. Fortunately, the company has been learning every year, and my hope is that next year, Spencer comes out swinging. Microsoft is a powerhouse in the industry, it’s time to show people why they should invest in the Xbox brand.