2020 has been a good year for Xbox considering how terrible everything else has been. They are poised to have a very strong 2021 just based on what we know already, but a couple of moves could make the year Xbox’s strongest yet.
Note: Just a reminder these are speculated predictions and have no sourcing or inside information attached.
1. Xbox will acquire at least one more studio by E3 2021
It feels inevitable that Xbox will acquire more studios in the future, but I believe they will acquire another one by E3 2021. Quickly after Microsoft announced the intent to acquire Zenimax, they talked about looking out for opportunities to acquire more studios where it made sense. There have also been longstanding rumors of a few studios that Microsoft has been looking to acquire. So it seems clear that Xbox will be acquiring someone
Xbox may be waiting for the Bethesda deal to finalize before announcing a new acquisition, or they could still be deciding on studios that fit within their culture. Whoever the studio ends up being, they will be added to an already impressive group.
2. Halo Infinite will release by May
Halo Infinite has been kind of a disaster ever since it was delayed in August. The project lead left 343, there was major fan backlash about the introduction of “armor coatings”, and there is really no clear indication on how the development of the game is going as of now.
343 has confirmed that we will get a “high level update” by the end of the year for the game. While many think the game may be coming at the end of 2021 or worst case scenario delayed to 2022, I believe the game is going to release soon.
I could easily see the game release as soon as March, but realistically I believe the game will be releasing around May. Joseph Staten joined the project soon after the game was delayed to finish development and I believe he was there to quickly wrap things up and ensure the game is polished and ready to go.
It is possible that there is even more turmoil behind the scenes then we realize. But unless there is a massive problem with the game, I believe Infinite will launch very soon.
3. Starfield will have a release window of Q4 2021
This may be my most ambitious prediction, but this one I am confident in. Assuming development continues to go smoothly and no Covid-related issues derail the game, I believe the game will release by the end of 2021.
A few recent Todd Howard interviews may indicate that the game is farther away than we might hope, but I think that he is just being coy. Starfield was announced in 2018 and was in development for a while before that. Bethesda likes to hold things close to the vest and announce games close to release.
It is possible that Starfield is fully unveiled as soon as The Game Awards and released within the year. That might be too soon, meaning a likely scenario is that Starfield is announced at E3 2021 and released a few months later. If Starfield does in fact release in 2021, that would be a huge boon for Xbox, especially if it is exclusive.
4. Xbox will announce that Bethesda games will be exclusive to Xbox platforms after the acquisition is complete
Speaking of exclusive, I still firmly believe that Bethesda’s games will be exclusive to Xbox once the ink is dry on the Zenimax acquisition. There has been a lot of talk and speculation about where Bethesda’s games would show up after the deal is completed. Phil Spencer and other Xbox executives have given vague answers about this topic, and until the deal is completed they really are not able to give actual answers. You can read the responses they have given in a few ways, but from what I have read I still believe the intent is to keep Bethesda’s games exclusive. Spending 7.5 Billion dollars to continue to support non Microsoft platforms would not make much sense. It would raise too many questions, including why Bethesda’s games would be multiplatform while other Xbox First Party Games are exclusive.
It is a lot simpler and a better way to attract people to the Xbox ecosystem to make Starfield, The Elder Scrolls, Doom, etc exclusive. The Zenimax acquisition is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021, and once that happens, Microsoft will officially own Bethesda. Shortly after this happens, I believe Xbox will make it clear that Bethesda will be making games exclusive for Xbox platforms.
5. Xbox Live Gold will dissappear by the end of 2021
Xbox Live Gold has to go away at some point, right? Gold feels like a relic of the past that only exists because millions of people pay for it to play multiplayer. The Games With Gold program where you get a few free games every month has been a joke for a while now and with GamePass that is unlikely to improve. Paying money to play multiplayer doesn’t fit with Xbox’s goal of connecting players regardless of the device. You don’t have to pay any money to play multiplayer on phones or computers, and yet Xbox still requires you to.
Xbox Live Gold needs to go, and it is astonishing it hasn’t already. Giving up the recurring revenue of Gold is likely the only reason it still even exists. While losing the profits will hurt in the short term, making multiplayer free and convincing those users to subscribe to GamePass should pay off in the long run.