Explaining the miscommunications of Next-Gen: Death of the Console Exclusive

As the new generation begins to enter the consciousness of our minds we inevitably enter the phase of console launches that I dislike most; list wars and concern trolling.

Usually, this begins with out of context interviews and ends with zombie lies repeated ad neasum by gaming podcasts and websites for headline space and readability. In this piece I hope to dive fully into context and explain some of the sillier statements that have come into being and taken as fact without proper forethought or supporting evidence:

First up!

This is categorically false.

How did it even come to this weird misconception?

In November 2019, there had been an interview with Xbox’s Matt Booty:

As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games, sort of like PC, will play up and down that family of devices,” Booty explains. “We want to make sure that if someone invests in Xbox between now and [Series X] that they feel that they made a good investment and that we’re committed to them with content.

Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios

Source: https://www.mcvuk.com/business-news/we-need-to-deliver-on-the-promises-that-we-make-xbox-game-studios-matt-booty-on-the-future-of-xbox/

What does this mean?

Microsoft 1st party studios have committed to releasing games for the Xbox One line of consoles and the Xbox Series line of consoles for 18-24 months from November 2019. Why did they say this? Well there have been games announced for Xbox One that are coming out with the Series X launch or shortly after. Does this mean they should drop Xbox One support and force everyone to adopt a new console? Personally I don’t think so.

Secondly when looking at the timing you have to understand how long this period will realistically last for. The Series X launches Holiday 2020 and this period talked about ends roughly around Holiday 2021. That is one year of first party support for both consoles. How many games are people expecting Xbox 1st party to release in that year? We know of 1 game: Halo Infinite, there are a few other games from first party we know of that do not yet have a release window: Everwild and Hellblade 2. With rumours of other properties yet to be announced; Fable and the Perfect Dark Reboot.

So, if we are only worried about Halo Infinite for first party then what about third parties? Right now we know that Microsoft is not enforcing this policy on third parties as we have already seen trailers for games that are only releasing on series X in the launch window. The Ascent, Scorn and The Medium.

The Ascent Series X reveal trailer
Scorn Series X reveal
The Medium Announcement Trailer with gameplay

For “The Medium” the developer confirmed that this game would not be possible on current-gen. In an interview with Gamespot, Wojciech Piejko, lead game designer of The Medium, revealed that the game has a unique feature that wasn’t possible on current-gen. The feature, which has been patented by the developer, is something that has been on their minds since 2012, however, it could only be brought to action by the technological advancements in the next generation. While the developers mentioned the feature is a “super-secret“, the patent available on Freepatentsonline shows what it is all about. The patent, entitled “Method of simultaneous playing in single-player video games,” is about a method that would allow players to simultaneously control one character with several avatars in different universes. The incident in each world will have dire consequences on the other, and the character in multiple worlds will be shown together at the same time in the same viewport. 

Now that we have debunked this statement, how did something get taken so far out of context? Unfortunately it comes down to headline selections and visibility. the interview at XO19 involving Matt Booty was reposted in January 2020 “All of our games… will play up and down that family of devices” – Xbox’s Matt Booty ends the next-gen exclusive as we know it.

Commenters took this headline for fact and then the zombie lie began to spread – to this day there are still people who get their information second hand that believe Xbox will not have next gen exclusives. That is a shame, not only for the Xbox team who decided to keep their current gen console relevant for an extra year for their consumers but also for Xbox PR who must also need to now push crap uphill to explain this to consumers.

The people I am most disappointed with are the informed commenters, that read the article and could put two and two together or employees of the enthusiast press whos job it is to look past the headlines and inform their readers with a greater degree of accuracy than the average twitter user or forum poster. As we move closer to launch and I see more of these talking points arise I will try my best to explain beyond the click bait headline to inform you better.

As always keep checking back with xboxera.com.

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