Xbox’s E3 2021 is in just two weeks and that means that it’s time to take a look at what Xbox needs to do to capture the full media cycle and gaming mind share moving forward. If you’re interested, I’ve always made my predictions for what Xbox’s full 90 minute E3 conference will hold.
- Bethesda/ZeniMax deal was massive and means exclusivity and awesome games for Xbox Gamers – The most crucial thing for Xbox to establish this year at E3 is that Xbox is the home for Bethesda and if you want to play the games then you need to jump into the Xbox ecosystem. After assuring this, showing some of the amazing games in development and on the way is crucial. They need to establish Bethesda was more than a few big RPG.
Showing off Starfield in all its RPG glory will undoubtedly be huge, but showing Wolfenstein III, a big ambitious shooter from ZeniMax Online and a big open world game from Arkane all as exclusive to Xbox is where they will establish that this deal was MASSIVE.
- Halo Infinite with a significant gameplay visual improvement – Last year Xbox debuted some absolutely massive announcements with Avowed and Fable at their conference. However, that was overshadowed by a disastrous visual showing from Halo Infinite, their flagship title. In order to gain back traction, Halo Infinite needs to have a much improved gameplay showing. The screenshots that have trickled out (see campaign screenshot below) definitely show quite a bit of improvement, but we need to see it in action and the enemy models need to look much improved of the Craig’s of last year.
- Establish Xbox is a place for next-gen gameplay – While Halo visuals definitely need to be much improved, it’s not going to be the next-gen visual showcase. For that Xbox needs to lean on some of the big first party studios that they have invested in. These studios must show off impress gameplay visuals that can compete with Sony’s exclusives in terms of visuals.
It’s likely that Forza Horizon 5 will be the first title Xbox shows with graphics that just scream next-gen. There are a few other games/studios to watch this year for this are Bethesda’s Starfield, Arkane’s Project Omen, Compulsion Game’s New IP, Xbox Global Publishing (remember Quantum Break and Ryse were visual showcases last generation).
- Gamepass BLOWOUT – Right now gamepass has a massive first mover advantage with gamepass and also have the advantage with their first party and EA Play being in the service. Theres a few other advantages they offer like game discounts and XCloud supports, but what it really will all come down to is the games in the service. Xbox has a giant opportunity to capture the attention of everyone at E3 by making a big moves here. Earlier this year, they captured a lot of attention by adding a big new third party IP in Outriders to the service.
They can capture that same type of momentum but on a much larger scale at E3. I’m looking for a significant move to corner the market and make gamepass undisputedly the best service in gaming moving forward. Showing something along the lines of adding Ubisoft Plus, EA Plus Premium (Day 1 EA games), Sega back catalogue would be major moves for the service. They could also go with a more individualized approach trying to get single games on gamepass releasing day 1 or ones that were major hits, some examples could be Back 4 Blood, FIFA/Madden, Battlefield 6, Elden Ring, Tales of Arise, Far Cry 6, Sekiro, Cyberpunk 2077, Assassins Creed Valhalla and Watch Dog 2. The last approach they could take would be getting games to come to their system that were previously exclusive or not on xbox, there are several key games/franchises they could go after like Persona, Bravely Default, Dragon Quest (additional titles since we know XI came to xbox), Baldur’s Gate, Hades/Pyre/Transistor or Monster Hunter.
- Xbox is NOW – We all know Xbox has a ton of exclusives on the way and in development. However, we do not know enough about when those games are releasing. Is it going to be years before these titles are releasing, or will we have plenty to play in the near future. Personally I want to see what games I will be playing in the next 18 months, so I think it’s necessary to plenty show games with 2022 release dates or sooner. This will tell me there’s plenty of content to pay right now and that I don’t just have to be patient.
- First party gameplay – Along the lines of showing what games I will be playing over the next 18 months, I need to see gameplay of those games so I know exactly what I will have to look forward to. Last year, the main gameplay centered around Halo and it unfortunately left a lot to be desired. This year I want to see variety, Xbox is the most diverse console out there, so show the world next-gen gameplay from the full bredth of first/second party genre(s).
- Must have exclusives – The rumors are going strong that Xbox’s first party has tons of games in development. The job listings and talk from the studio heads and Phil Spencer corroberate them. Now it’s time to show off that they exist and they’re must-play games. Throughout last year we saw six big new first party IP’s announced. This year should be more of the same, with Xbox likely showing off new titles from Bethesda, Xbox Game Studios, Xbox Global Publishing as well as some other deals for full or timed exclusivity. They just need to make sure they showcase these in a way that makes people understand they’re only on Xbox and they’re massive must-play titles.