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The Xbox Developer Direct Was Good, But Not Good Enough

Xbox Developer Direct recapped and discussed!



It’s no secret that the single biggest struggle that Microsoft’s Xbox brand has been having for the better part of a decade is releasing compelling software that cannot be found on other consoles. After the Xbox Developer Direct was announced earlier this month, expectations were high but then quickly tempered by the confirmation that they would only be addressing a mere four of their many upcoming titles. Despite the strong showing from the four games that were scheduled to appear, and one surprise announcement, the Xbox Developer Direct fell far short of the kick in the pants the Xbox first-party stable has been needing for a while.

To be extremely clear: the games that were shown at this week’s Xbox Developer Direct looked great. Minecraft Legends looks to further expand the world of Minecraft in an even more successful and exciting way than Dungeons did in 2021 or any of the Story Mode chapters from Telltale Games. While Minecraft Legends was previously said to be coming in the first half of 2023 at last year’s Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, Xbox delivered on their promise by revealing an official release date of April 18th, 2023 during the presentation. Even with the unfortunate “2023” wide-ranging window hanging over the title, another look at the upcoming Forza Motorsport continued to impress with technical prowess and mechanical intricacy that if fully realized will certainly put Gran Turismo 7 to shame.

Arkane Studios’ upcoming title Redfall received new details regarding the open world and a more single-player focused experience before once again confirming to release this May, while ZeniMax Online’s new The Elder Scrolls Online expansion was revealed to be officially dropping the following month. To top it all off, Tango Gameworks announced and shadow-dropped their new rhythm combat game Hi-Fi Rush–which has already been receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from audiences.

Xbox Developer Direct
Image: Microsoft

There was plenty to be excited about from this showcase, and even moving forward through the first half of 2023, but the fact remains that Xbox’s problem of lacking compelling titles still persists. Not only is it seeming increasingly likely that Forza Motorsport and Starfield (Xbox’s two biggest releases of the year) could be pushed out of the first half of the year, the overall output from Xbox’s first-party studios is relatively lackluster. Despite releasing four major titles in the first half of 2023 there are still so many previously announced titles being left unaccounted for. 

So many projects from Xbox have been revealed before quietly disappearing into a questionably long development phase–some dating back years ago at this rate. The time has come for those games to start to resurface. Where is Playground’s new iteration of Fable, The Initiative’s Perfect Dark reboot, Obsidian’s Avowed or Outer Worlds sequel, Machine Games’ Indiana Jones project, Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls VI or Fallout 5, Ninja Theory’s Hellblade 2, or even Undead Labs’ State of Decay 3? At some point, Microsoft’s insistence that their big first-party titles will justify the investment in the Xbox platform for consumers is going to feel hollow.

The Xbox Developer Direct needed to deliver in a significantly larger way than what was presented. Five games and even fewer release dates would be fine for Sony or Nintendo, but the difference between PlayStation and Xbox or Nintendo and Xbox is in the actual delivery of those first-party titles. In the last year, Sony has released Horizon Forbidden West, God of War Ragnarök, and Stray all as console exclusives. Meanwhile, games such as Final Fantasy XVI and the sequel to Insomniac’s Spider-Man are coming later this year. While Nintendo’s 2022 was arguably relatively slow compared to their more recent years, it still put Xbox’s 2022 to shame with the likes of two wildly successful Pokémon games and one of the best Kirby titles ever made.

Xbox Developer Direct -- Perfect Dark
Image: Microsoft

For that reason, Microsoft’s four releases and five previews of upcoming games would have been fine, or even more than fine, for Sony or Nintendo. That level of output would have been seen as maintaining a reliable cadence of quality and variety. But coming from Xbox’s 2022 lineup that was highlighted by As Dusk Falls and Pentiment (both great games but simply not on the triple-A scale that is expected from one of the big three in the industry), four release dates are simply not enough. Microsoft needs to focus on standardizing its pipeline from announcement to release so that the fans of its platform can reliably evangelize their games effectively.

Microsoft’s problem with output has carried into 2023 and while their attempt to buck that trend and actually deliver some games–or at the very least promise release dates for games–was admirable, it wasn’t nearly enough to quell the concerns of consumers. Nintendo shifted almost the entirety of their messaging to their customers to their formulaic Nintendo Directs several years ago, and Sony followed suit almost two years ago with good reason: it works. The time has come for Microsoft to straighten out its mismanagement internally, clarify its messaging to consumers, and deliver some actual games, or else even the most hardcore Xbox supporters like myself will find their eyes wandering. 

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing hockey. You see everything Patrick does right here on