While it’s nowhere near the degree of trouble that the Xbox One suffered at its launch, the Xbox Series X|S has had its fair share of issues in the main areas of competition: namely, exclusive games. To address this, Microsoft has gone on a spending spree, with huge announcements spread across mainstream news that they’ll snap up the likes of Bethesda and Activision Blizzard.
Despite the lack of first-party or exclusive titles – particularly when it comes to big releases – the new consoles are selling far better than the last generation of Xbox. The comparison of console sales figures read that the X|S is up by 62,000 units on the One’s figures for the same week of its lifespan. So, the announcements and existing games are certainly working for now, but it’s tough to sidestep the continued news of delays.
Highly-anticipated exclusives are coming, eventually
The big Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase over the summer delivered on nearly all expectations. There were big reveals, lots of gameplay videos, and a comprehensive look at what’s to come in 2022 from third-party studios and those under the Microsoft umbrella. While many gamers are happy for the forewarning and honesty, there isn’t any avoiding the news that there won’t be any big exclusives this year for Xbox.
The chart of all of the announced upcoming games for the next 18 months tells the story of poor management of the production line, with the last six months of 2022 being somewhat barren for Xbox Game Pass, and the 2023 slate looking to be more of a dog pile. High on Life, Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, and Party Animals on the Game Pass certainly pique interest, but in 2023, there’s set to be Redfall, Starfield, Forza Motorsport, Minecraft Legends, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, and ARK 2 coming to Game Pass.
If all holds up, 2023 looks to be the year that Xbox finally gets a foothold in the key competitive space of exclusive titles, but there’s a long way to go yet. So, the sense is that, while Game Pass is popular, Xbox needs to use the next six months and more to become much more attractive and gung-ho in user acquisitions to have an even larger, ready-set audience for these huge, very expensive releases.
Make some noise about free gaming and backward compatibility
Outside of its summer showcase and the news of massive acquisitions, Xbox doesn’t make a whole of noise about its service, sales, or deals, while PlayStation regularly promotes its upcoming titles. So, perhaps enhancing and promoting the accessibility of the Xbox console and its gaming library is the way to go. Right now, you’ll find an offer of
three months for $1 on Game Pass, but they can go further.
A good campaign to launch would be one of offering free gaming to any Xbox owner, with the focus on each installment being one or two games. The Game Pass library is vast, which can work against it, and other gaming brands have found more success by offering one game as the focus of free gaming promotions. When you browse the range of free spins offers, you’ll see that Big Bass Bonanza and Book of Dead are the focus of many.
This is because they’re the biggest casino games right now, and putting their names and images next to a promotion is more eye-catching than offering a set of free spins on a vague library of slots. It’s not just in casino gaming that this has proven to work; Epic Games broke into the PC launcher scene by offering a specific free game each week – often with a big name once per month – to anyone with a free account.
Along with offering free gaming options to all Xbox owners – thus making the purchase of an Xbox all the more valuable at little cost to Microsoft – Microsoft should heavily lean into what it does far better than the rest: backward compatibility. It is how the last console could stand up to Sony’s runaway-selling PS4 and really should be emphasized more. Perhaps a mini subscription to backward-compatible games would bring in some more gamers.
Software still drives console sales and engagement, and without any major releases to shout about for at least six months, Xbox should try another tactic to lure in more gamers, maximizing its audience in time for its major releases.