Xbox has had solid momentum of late, with the division posting near-record revenue on a near-quarter basis while also announcing a non-E3 Xbox + Bethesda showcase for June. Xbox managed to outperform its U.S. rivals last quarter, boosted in part by the more affordable Xbox Series S. However, the wind was taken out of the sails a little yesterday.
Microsoft has struggled over the past few years to produce a consistent cadence of high-quality, wide-ranging, action-oriented games. While titles like Flight Simulator, Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2, and Age of Empires IV did a lot of the work last year, fans have been clamoring for more mature action-oriented games and RPGs. Xbox has yet to deliver.
With Halo Infinite struggling to gain a foothold in the world of service shooters, many Xbox fans had pinned their hopes for 2022 exclusivity on Starfield, the next game from Todd Howard’s Bethesda Softworks made famous by Fallout and the Elder Scrolls. The mysterious sci-fi RPG is known as an ambitious space opera RPG, although little is known about how it will play, what systems it will have, and even what it will look like apart from a few brief in-engine teasers. Unfortunately, Starfield was delayed this week, pushing its launch window into the far reaches of 2023. Arkane’s vampire shooter Redfall followed closely, leaving Xbox with a gaping hole in its 2022 games lineup.
Xbox lead Phil Spencer took to Twitter reply to the news, stressing that the decision was to make sure the games were “ready”. Spencer also acknowledged ongoing criticism that Xbox is struggling to deliver consistently.
These decisions are tough for the teams making the games and our fans. While I fully support giving teams time to release these great games when they are ready, we do hear the feedback. Expected to deliver quality and consistency, we will continue to work to better meet those expectations.
Outside of Forza Horizon 5, Operation Age of Empires and Flight Simulator, it feels like Xbox is struggling to find its feet in a post-pandemic world where many games like Halo Infinite and now Starfield are seemingly plagued by glitches. Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier noted that developers on the Starfield team he spoke to had worried about the launch date and even described the potential for Starfield to be the next “cyberpunk” in a nod to CD Projekt RED’s notoriously tense sci-fi RPG Cyberpunk 2077.
Last spring before E3, I spoke to a few people on Starfield who were extremely concerned about committing to a 11/11/22 date based on their progress to date. (“Next Cyberpunk” was the term that was floated.) Glad Bethesda delayed even after announcing that specific date.”
There’s every chance we’ll get a glimpse of how Starfield and Redfall actually play at the Xbox + Bethesda Showcase in June, but it can do little to satisfy fans who’ll be watching Xbox’s exclusive lineup for the rest of the year year 2022 complain.
In any case, avoiding a cyberpunk-like cataclysm for Starfield is paramount given how complex and deep Bethesda RPGs typically are. Starfield and Redfall are now targeting a vague launch window for the “first half of 2023,” meaning that if all goes well, we should see them before the summer of 2023. As for third parties, here’s every upcoming Xbox game we know of so far.