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Microsoft Has to Bring Exclusives Forward for the Xbox 720

/ Mar 7th, 2013 4 Comments

Xbox 720
Xbox 720

Xbox 720

The next generation is upon us in the world of video games. Whether you consider it starting with the launch of the Wii U or the unveiling of the PlayStation 4, we are heading right into the thick of another console war. Though the Wii U may not feel like something truly new to some, there is little doubt that gamers felt like the PlayStation 4 was what they had been hoping for from the future; and no doubt that Sony’s next gen attempt is looking strong. The one company that we have yet to hear anything from is Microsoft. While the next Xbox, presumably called the Xbox 720, hasn’t tipped its hand as of yet, it looks as though we could be on the verge of an announcement or even a partial unveiling in the next couple of months.

When it comes to separating the next iteration of new consoles, the thing that keeps gamers coming back are exclusives. Let’s face it, when it came to the Nintendo Wii, though it sold well among the non-traditional gamers, the only thing that kept the regular gaming community playing the system at all was Nintendo’s in-house developed titles such as Mario and Zelda. No matter what, the gaming community will continue to come back if they are given a reason. Developers nowadays look for the ability to make as much on a game as possible, so unless they are given an exclusive contract to develop a game for a given console, you can assume that most games will go cross platform. That is why it is important to show a strong hand of first party titles that sets itself apart from the competition.

While the Xbox 360 still had its core franchises in Halo, Gears of War, and Forza, titles began to dwindle and the relevance of their cornerstone franchises began to do the same. When looking at the competition from Sony, the PlayStation 3 continued to grow in popularity by building on what they had with titles such as Gran Turismo, Killzone, and God of War from the previous era, and launching new IP’s such Uncharted, The Last of Us, and Heavy Rain. When it came time to build the hype of the PlayStation 4, Sony did the same by showing off great looking titles in Killzone: Shadow Fall, and Infamous: Second Son, but also impressed with the likes of Deep Down (working title) and Drive Club.

What does Microsoft have to do with the Xbox 720 to continue a toe-to-toe fight with Sony for the next console war? They have to show the exclusives. The Xbox 720 will surely see the likes of games such as Gears of War and Halo but when looking at all of these franchises they are growing tiresome with the gaming industry. Halo is now on Halo 4 and its seventh entry in the series. Gears of War is on its third as well releasing the fourth in Gears of War: Judgement in a few weeks. The problem is that Microsoft has done nothing to push these titles to new boundaries with the exception of Halo 4. The Xbox 720 needs the ability to show that it can take these known franchises and make them relevant in a new way, but also show that all of the brains behind new IPs don’t strictly belong to Sony.

XBOX 720

XBOX 720

Microsoft has chosen to continue to release new versions of each of these franchises regularly, with the substantial amount of those games released on the Xbox 360. The original Xbox saw two Halo games, no Gears of War, and one Forza game. Since the launch of the Xbox 360, we have seen five Halo games, four Gears of War games, and four Forza games. It simply shows that Microsoft has put all of their eggs in one (technically three) basket(s), banking on the fact that consumers will continue to be satisfied with what might be considered tired franchises.

The PlayStation 4 will launch some well known franchises, but the dev teams that sit in Sony’s corner look much more diverse and stronger than that of Microsoft. The Xbox 720 needs more exclusives, plain and simple. If they continue their current trend of launches, Microsoft will be competing with the Wii U instead of the PlayStation 4, as it will be in a league all of its own. Microsoft needs to go back to the drawing board with the Xbox 720 and look at what made the Xbox 360 so successful to begin with. It wasn’t the Kinect, it wasn’t kiddy games that you could get on the Wii; it was games for tried-and-true gamers. It was the launch of Halo 3, the first next generation Halo game, it was Dead Rising and all the fun of blowing away some zombies in new found ways and it was the launch of Gears of War and finding the Hive in order to stop Emergence Day. These are the titles that made the Xbox 360 the system of choice, accompanied with an outstanding online infrastructure to play them with friends. It brought gamers to Microsoft and to the Xbox branding.

Without exclusives a system, no matter how impressive the hardware, will falter. The Xbox 720 must have games that bring consumers back to their love of Microsoft, or the Xbox 720 will be a wasted opportunity. The majority of gamers will look at all three systems side-by-side and ask themselves which offers more opportunities for growth. Some won’t have the funding to buy all three, or even two, and some won’t want all three because of time or they simply aren’t that interested; these are the gamers that will decide the console war and these are the gamers that each company will need to impress with their exclusives. Though some gamers may have a preference one way or another, there is little doubt that they will put their money and faith on the side that offers the games to play, no matter their preference. Microsoft has their work cut out for them with the Xbox 720′s launch, and for the sake of competition and gaming market, I hope they don’t flop. The unveiling of the Xbox 720 will show whether Microsoft is actually trying to put up a fight, or ride their moneybags made from the Xbox 360 off into the sunset.

What do you think about the next generation of consoles and the war brewing? And are exclusives what tip your money one way or the other? Sound off and let us know in the comments below.

Aaron Cooley-Themm

Aaron Cooley-Themm

Associate Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Aaron is a newcomer to Gaming Illustrated.
Aaron Cooley-Themm

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  • Robert

    Agreed 100%. It was the pure gaming that got me into the 360 in the first place. The online content is already great, but to be honest I have rarely found a game outside of Modern Warfare series or the Halo series worth playing. I am a very picky gamer coming from the Doom, Quake and Unreal generation of gamers, and my opinion I’ve seen one I’ve seen them all. The only games I have seen recently to get me playing in my limited time (including those shown at the PS4 reveal) has been Halo 4 and Bungies new project. That said I have the belief that Sony with the Share functionality have now completely destroyed what gaming is to most of us, a chance to escape from the world for a couple of hours.

  • http://www.gamingillustrated.com Aaron Cooley-Themm

    Robert, thanks for the comment! I am in the exact same boat when it comes to gaming, though I do enjoy a vast number of titles. The games however that keep me coming back for more are COD and Halo. There are some great single player experiences on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and I do tend to enjoy those a lot. The issue is most of them are able to be obtained on either platform. I have enjoyed the likes of Assassin’s Creed III, Tomb Raider, Crysis 3, Hitman Absolution, DmC, among others, but all can be played on the PS3 too. There is little to help Microsoft fight the battle with Sony when we have seen games like PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Ratchet and Clank Full Frontal Assault, and next week God of War Ascension, and later the Last of Us. What does the 360 have next, Gears of War Judgment, many people were done after 2 and 3 wasn’t much better. Judgment looks boring and uninspired and its the only exclusive that Microsoft has as of now. Exclusives help sell systems, without them the next Xbox will go nowhere.

  • Korgoth

    Don’t count the Xbox out till we see prices. If they continue this trend of subscription based console sales they started last year with the $99 Xbox360, they may capture a huge segment of the gaming public earlier than a new console normally could and lock them in for a minimum two years of paying monthly fees which will add up.

    The subscription based model gives the system a low upfront cost while offering greater return on each console than one sold for full price. Gamers end up paying twice as much in the long term, so even if they arn’t buying games at all, Microsoft still has a revenue stream coming in.

    Moral of the story: Read the fine print this coming holiday, or you may end up paying a lot extra to be an early adaptor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/isiah.goddard Isiah Carter Goddard

    I agree 110% Microsoft needs to stop relying on its power house games like halo n gears. They need to bring more to the table, and really make them a game changer! I love my Xbox 360 to death an will continue to support it, but I can’t ignore the fact that Sony is trying much harder and is doing very well. Microsoft I hope u have much more to offer this generation. Dnt let ur previous successes be for nothing

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