Starfield could be the best game ever made – it won’t change how this industry talks about Xbox.

Is Xbox Doomed?

There’s been a tonne of conversation online about Xbox in recent weeks, particularly since the release of the critically panned Redfall. I’ve been hesitant to even write my thoughts on the insanity being spouted online, purely because of the optics of it -“Oh, you have Xbox in your website’s name? That means you’re all fanboys.”

Well, guess what folks, we’ve heard that line before. We already got some delightful commentary when we gave Redfall an 8.5, and yes, we know – as an outlet, we’re an outlier on that one. (Thanks for sticking with us, Dualshockers).

The nutshell is, if I can admit XboxEra is covering this industry from the perspective of a team that primarily plays on Xbox, in order to serve that audience, maybe it’s time for the rest of the industry to consider that maybe, just maybe, they’re looking at things through the lens of PlayStation?

But hey, this is my corner of the internet, and I’m choosing to say this out loud – even if it’s not the wisest idea.

So let’s set the stage and just say it, once and for all:

It doesn’t matter what Xbox do, it doesn’t matter how many great games they have and do release, they will always be the target for this sort of criticism.

It feels good to hate Xbox

If you’ve been a ‘fan’ of Xbox for any number of years, these lengthy, often negative pieces of writing, paired with click-bait headlines and framed as opinion pieces are a normal part of the coverage of the platform. What’s probably made your eyes roll into the back of your head at this point is how relentless they are of late – even from the journalists that are supposed to be the adults in the room.

Microsoft and the Xbox platform have to operate in a world where for every AAA multiplatform game that exists, they are competing against a ratio of gaming outlets and journalists that will always choose PlayStation first. They are, after all the most popular platform (that isn’t a Switch) so you might think that quite naturally, writers and websites will think about their SEO rankings, and always choose the platform that is most likely to be searched for online. Except, Xbox, at least according to Google Trends, is typically searched for more – worldwide. Surprise, these negatively slanted articles really do get clicks.

If we look at the recent reviews of Jedi Survivor, when publisher EA would have asked outlets what platform they’d prefer their review code for coverage – over 75% of reviewers, given the choice, chose PlayStation, out of the 142 reviews available on Metacritic.

This is par for the course – the majority of multiplatform reviews since the Xbox One generation lean the same way. I think the reason for this is pretty simple – it’s where the majority of folks working in this industry prefer to play.

Microsoft and by extension, Xbox, will never be able to compete with that. Even when Xbox, as a platform, produces incredible titles like Hi-Fi Rush, you’ll see the narrative subtly shift online. This is now a Bethesda success and not something Xbox should be allowed to take credit for.

Even then, despite how genuinely great Hi-Fi Rush is, it doesn’t ‘count’. It’s not “AAA” enough. It’s cartoony. It’s for kids. Microsoft didn’t release enough games in 2022, so we can’t give them too much credit. And so on.

When Redfall released 4 months later and was then subsequently critically panned, it then switched back and became a Microsoft failure. And now, according to the internet at large, Xbox is once again, doomed.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The reality is, for many practicing members of the gaming media, Xbox is simply not the platform they like to spend their time with. Sony and PlayStation, as the market leader, have set the expectation as to what types of games should “count” as quality 1st Party releases. Microsoft’s entire business model is broader, with those types of games being merely one flavour amongst the buffet they’ve laid.

So many video games feel more like movies in the way that they are constructed now, and while it’s not to my tastes, if you want to win Game of the Year at the Keighly’s, that’s what you need to have on your platform. That’s now the expectation for what AAA gaming is, and it all combines to create a world where only these kinds of games truly “count” towards success and recognition.

Microsoft, and by extension Xbox, haven’t really fully leaned into that world – yet. They tend to have far more variety in genres as an actual publisher than most, interestingly earning them an award for best publisher in 2022 across a myriad of genres of games released in 2021.

It is very rare for a publisher to average above 80 for its releases across a single calendar year. But how often does a company average above 85 ? Never…until this year.

2022 Game Publisher Rankings: #1: Microsoft (Xbox Game Studios) – Metacritic

Following the release of Redfall, Phil Spencer recently appeared on the XCAST via KindaFunny and made the following statements, all loosely around the very topic I’m trying to discuss.

“We’re not in the business of out consoling Sony or out consoling Nintendo”

“There isn’t really a great solution or win for us. And I know that will upset a tonne of people. But the truth of the matter is when you’re third place in the console marketplace, and the top two players are as strong as they are and have in certain cases very discrete focus on doing deals and other things that make being Xbox hard for us as a team – that’s on us, not anybody else.”

“But I know some people want to hold us up as just being a better green version of what the blue guys do. I’m just going to say, there’s not a win for Xbox in staying in the wake of somebody else. We have to go off and do our own thing, with Game Pass, with the stuff we do with xCloud and the way we build our games.”

Phil Spencer, XCAST (KindaFunny)

When I heard this from Phil, I wasn’t surprised. Personally, I think this is the closest he’s come in the many years he’s been at Xbox in actually saying (almost) exactly how he feels. Because frankly, he’s right.

According to the now constant stream of negatively slanted Xbox articles, across both YouTube and the wider games media, this is the “last chance for Xbox”. Outlets and pundits are constantly and consistently fuelling the idea that these two platforms must be forever and always compared, with one always “winning” against the other. Sales must be compared, the games must be compared, the approach must be compared, and one platform, when all is said and done, simply has to lose.

And ‘lose’ Xbox will because it’s simply held to a very different standard than the rest.

Remember Tomb Raider?

I’m sure you do. Back when a very underfunded Xbox division bought a year’s exclusivity for Tomb Raider to prop up their gaming slate, the gaming media ripped them apart. It felt almost furious, personal even – with gaming journalists going all in on Xbox and the developer in interviews. For how long? Is it coming to PlayStation? Can you say when? Why won’t you say when?

Eventually, they relented, finally stating that yes, it’s a timed, one-year deal. That’s all normal in this industry, right? Happens all the time. And yet…I’ll challenge you to find that same energy from the media when it comes to the Xbox version of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Or the Xbox version of Street Fighter V (which also had the side effect of removing an entire niche of fighting game fans from the platform entirely).

Now all eyes turn to Starfield

Following the aftermath of Redfall, Starfield can apparently no longer be just a good video game. 8 out of 10 isn’t going to cut the mustard. The media cycle must continue, and the seeds are now being firmly planted that if Starfield is anything but the second coming, Microsoft and Xbox would have failed again. Am I alone in thinking that this is the most ridiculous, nonsensical way of looking at this industry?

When Phil said that “There is no world where Starfield is an 11 out of 10 and people start selling their PS5s” it’s my opinion he was referring to this bizarre narrative that exists where Xbox must be doing better than their rivals in order to succeed. He also said the Xbox One generation was the worst to lose. The underlying point being, in this digital age, consumers are far less likely to switch from one ecosystem to another than they were in previous generational transitions. The reality is, since the Xbox One, the majority of video game media switched right alongside the public in 2013 and because of that, Xbox will always be a secondary or even tertiary console.

Why can’t Xbox just be doing pretty good on its own merits, you may wonder? Why do they need an answer to whatever PlayStation game is flavour of the month? Damned if I know the answer.

Either way, Starfield sure is coming, and initial looks at the title are promising. If it’s 30FPS, I’m sure that’ll make for a good headline, of course, framed in a negative way with no understanding of the type of game engine, or its complexity that makes that extremely likely, at least on console. What if it’s not native 4K on Xbox Series X? I’m sure that’ll be covered reasonably, with minimal hyperbole.

Yep, Starfield is on it’s way alright. It’s going to be a video game, and afterward, regardless of whether it’s amazing or merely okay, Xbox will make more of those.

Xbox is doomed, indeed.

Jon "Sikamikanico" Clarke

Stuck on this god-forsaken island. Father of two, wishes he could play more games but real life always gets in the way. Prefers shorter and often smarter experiences, but Halo is King.

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  1. Bravo, sir. Bravo. Not a syllable is out of place. The CLEAR media bias against Xbox needs to be called out and you did it with clarity and succinct examples. A book could be written on it.

  2. As someone who primarily plays PC, PS and Switch….I still own an Xbox. I’m a Sony guy at heart, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want other systems with great exclusives (PC AAA games can be touchy, so I prefer those on console). I hate this take because it feels like giving up. But here’s the thing, Xbox doesn’t utilize the brilliant IPs it has. If we got a lineup with Banjo, Fable, Senua (please stop using it for tech demos and RELEASE IT PLEASE)….I truly think you’d see a rise in Xbox purchases. It is INSANE to me they were sticking to this “we dont need good games” narrative. We get lots of promises and absolutely no delivery. Work on a strong lineup with the IPs you have and you’ll be selling consoles. PLENTY of people would pick up an Xbox just for a new Banjo.

    1. When did Xbox say “we don’t need good games”?? You’re a prime example of the kinds of attitudes this article is addressing. You also don’t see how hypocritical you’re being. Sony is also sitting on piles of old IP’s that they refuse to use. You calling them out for that? No, you’re not. But you call out Xbox. Could it be that you’re a biased a fanboy? Of course, in you’re mind, that’s ridiculous. But to the rest of us, it’s clear as day.

      And to clarify; Phil didn’t say good games wouldn’t sell consoles. Of course they would. He just simply acknowledged that no matter what, people will not sell their PS5’s for an XSX/S. They might pick up an Xbox as a secondary or tertiary console, or just try the games out on PC/mobile, which in turn will not change the console market share.

      It’s only people who are not primary Xbox users who seemed to have failed at understanding what Phil was saying. Wonder why…

  3. The fact that you XB fans agree with what Phil said is what brings me down the most, and I’m a PS fan mind you. I can’t believe he wasn’t fired for saying that. How could XB even dream of approaching PS with such a mindset from the head of XB?? In the interview, he basically said “People say good games sell hardware but that’s not so true”, can you believe it? Have y’all forgot the XB360 era? Bc of groundbreaking exclusives XB was fighting toe to toe with PS, and now you’re telling me that’s impossible? No wonder why XB is down. They pushed GP when XB1 failed, and, to be fair, they needed something innovative to recover, but after 10 years of failure they must face it, they can’t focus both on GP AND exclusives. One has to go. Genuine question, why would anyone buy an XB if they can play its games from their phone or PC, or even TV?? I know they’re pushing for every platform, but this is not working otherwise they would’ve shown their financial results. During the XB1 era, they should’ve just focused on exclusives(the main reason behind XB360’s success) and that’s it. Phil said it numerous times, “GP is not about exclusives”, “we don’t feel like exclusives are good for gaming”, and “We want to reach every platform”, but ask yourselves, is that what you XB fans really want? At the expense of your exclusives? Ofc not. Why do you not say it? Why do you not express what you do not like? Nothing’s gonna change as long as you keep quiet, and if you keep this way, the worst is yet to come. I want XB and PS to compete like E3 times so bad, I guess we won’t see that level of rivalry anytime soon smh

  4. Xbox fails to set the right expectations:
    Xbox is the most powerful console – where are the games that are only possible on this system?
    Games that are available in the next 12 months on Game Pass? Why do they say so if they don’t deliver?
    Aaron Greenberg’s tweets prior to events ( No new games) are proof that Xbox knows about the problem.

    I prefer the communication strategy of the competing consoles: keeping things vaguely and present games closer to their release dates instead of plans. I understand that it’s easier to sell games than keeping players subscribed to a service, but it’s Xbox who chose that path.
    Nick mentioned in the podcast that it might be difficult to produce a Playstation podcast because there might be not enough news every week. That’s the downside of Xbox’s strategy: more news = more options for failure/wrong expectations. I don’t feel pity for the business strategy of a multi billion dollar company and you shouldn’t as well.

  5. Very well written article! The bias is certainly a real thing I see it in my news feed daily. Xbox is on another level & I believe it will take many years before people realize Microsoft’s vision for Xbox & the gaming industry as a whole. Xbox is NOT doomed, there’s going to be some brilliant things to come from the guys in green. I’m a gamer through and through. My first console was a PSone for my 5th birthday in 1996, I also got an Xbox when it first came to market & I’ve owned every PS and Xbox console since. This generation I have a PS5 as well as an Xbox series S, I absolutely love both consoles. I play more on the Xbox series S because that’s where I enjoy playing with friends & I end up playing a majority of big gamepass releases as it’s allowed me to broaden my gaming experiences without breaking the bank. My PS5 is where I enjoy playing the other games I love. Spiderman remastered, spiderman miles morales, Ratchet and Clank, Horizon Forbidden West, God of war & many more. These are franchises I have enjoyed across generations and I love playing them, they just happen to be on PlayStation but if the same games were on Xbox I’d be playing them on Xbox. On Xbox I enjoy playing Forza horizon 5, Halo infinite, state of Decay, all the gears of war games, sea of thieves, Quantum Break & grounded. At the end of the day Xbox isn’t going anywhere & I freaking HATE seeing the doom and gloom articles everywhere. Many games are in development at Xbox, those games will eventually be released. When those games are released we will be fortunate we have Xbox delivering those games to us. Happy gaming ✌️

  6. I see plenty of articles criticising Sony and Playstation. I agree there is more doom and gloom around Xbox but the article still comes off as disingenuous.
    Whether its the lack of a showcase for two years, the new focus on live service games, all their exclusives are the same third person interactive movies with a different skin etc…
    Point is, playstation is hardly free from criticism.
    I agree that people aren’t going to sell their ps5 for an Xbox x/s but if the exclusives are good enough you’d still get more people buying Xboxes and gamepass. People also aren’t selling their Xboxes for playstations so it really is a moot point at best.
    Truth be told I’ve only ever had a Xbox 360 and all my other consoles have been ps but for me it is entirely down to my preference of controller.

  7. Playstation fanboys aren’t gamers. Pure and simple. Way back during ps2 gen the OG xbox dropped. Seeing as I already had the ps2 my buddy picked up an xbox so that we could enjoy it all. There was no brand loyalty, there was more options. If xbox only has 3 exclusives then that’s 3 that playstation doesn’t have and as a gamer we should be open to trying new things, quality of quantity. So you wait a generation and pick the console up at a discount. No harm there, but to completely right the system and games off is pure lunacy and I’m tired of pretending like these ravenous ponys are my peers. They’re not. I love gaming, they love playstation. We ain’t the same. Jour alism isn’t about reporting news, it’s about projecting opinions and in a world where clicks matter narcissism prevails.

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