OPINION

Inside Xbox was the first stumble Xbox has made this year, but it ultimately won’t matter.

Today’s Inside Xbox was a fine episode of Inside Xbox. It showed some trailers for interesting games and gave us a sneak peak at a few games we should expect to see on the Xbox Series X. The problem wasn’t the show itself, which I thought was ultimately mediocre, which falls in line with most episodes of Inside Xbox.

The problem was the expectations Xbox set for the show itself. Last week when Xbox announced this episode of Inside Xbox, they promised a “first look at next-gen gameplay”. The first look at a brand new generation of games is always exciting. The gaming community gets to see what next gen is all about, and can come to understand the benefit of spending a lot of money on a new console.

The problem was, there was very little gameplay shown. There were no gameplay demos, only very short trailers that either showed no gameplay at all, or small snippets of gameplay that didn’t show what the benefits of the new consoles were. The show itself was fine, but in the context of a “next gen showcase” it was very, very bad.

I believe that it was a mistake to market this as a first look at next gen gameplay. Everyone’s eyeballs were on this show, and it ultimately was a flop and didn’t provide much reason for anyone to have interest in the next generation of consoles. As a first look at what the Xbox Series X will be capable of in terms of games, this show undersold the console. We have heard for many months about raytracing, the speed of the SSD, 12 teraflops, and more. We saw none of that on display today, and as a first impression… let’s just hope the second impression is much better.

Besides poor context and poor expectation management, the messaging within the show itself was also poor. Our own staff as well as friend of the site @Klobrille did a great job of providing more information based on what we saw from the show.

Apparently, many games shown on the show are console exclusives, are launching on gamepass, and have exciting next gen features such as raytracing. This information was not shown at all during the episode, and this information was found out after the fact online. Why didn’t Xbox share any of this information on the episode? Life is full of mysteries.

While I thought this episode was not a great way to get fans excited about the Xbox Series X, I am sympathetic to the fact that Covid-19 has made everything challenging. It might have been impossible to get proper gameplay demos from third party developers, and it is possible that this show was the best that they could do.

Even while understanding the challenges that Covid-19 may present, I believe that Xbox could have made this a better show with just a few tweaks. Instead of marketing this as a true dive into next gen, they should have said that this was a collection of trailers for a few smaller games. This tweak in presentation would have set expectations accordingly, so that there wouldn’t be a general consensus of disappointment. Xbox should have also shared more information about the games on stream. We shouldn’t have to rely on others to find out this information.

This isn’t the end of the world for Xbox, who have done a fantastic job marketing the Series X and have been incredibly transparent. But as a first look at what ultimately matters, games, they stumbled a bit. They should have managed expectations more, and probably should have waited to show these games after their first party games.

July is what we have to look forward to now, and expectations will be even higher. Xbox is promising to unveil what their studios have been working on, and they have to deliver on these expectations to ensure a successful buildup to launch.

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