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Letters from the Front

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It’s that time of year again. I love it. E3 2018 is getting closer and closer each passing day, giving us new games and new hardware to drool over. However, how does Microsoft stands as we reach the midway point of 2018.

The Xbox division of Microsoft is doing well to some recent reports, however, this is a good chance to address everyone’s criticisms with Xbox. I would like to see them actually say that they’re recommitted to first party exclusives and will do everything in their means to make that happen, I’m wondering if they’ll dispel that and we have something lurking in the shadows that Microsoft and the Xbox division might be headed towards. Games as a Service. Fortnite is doing extremely well and perhaps they want to pursue that with new games that Microsoft Studios puts out and become a service-oriented company.

E3 2018 could be an interesting one for Microsoft, there has been a lot of shifts in the company as Phil Spencer is now the head of the gaming division and Matt Booty is the first party head which was Phil Spencer’s previous job and perhaps they have something exciting up their sleeves. Perhaps, this E3 won’t show anything new in terms of first party because simply it’s too early to see what this reorganization has brought to the table. As this generation dwindles, I hope Microsoft brings to the table what is the future of the Xbox brand as a new generation begins. This is the Road to E3 2018: Part 3.

Games.

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2017 was probably the worst year in Xbox lineup history. 2017 was dry and nothing of value came out of Microsoft, outside of Cuphead and Forza 7. This year has been somewhat better with Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 already released with Crackdown 3 hopefully coming soon. This E3 has to deliver some sort of first party content.

Reportedly, Microsoft’s E3 conference is two hours long which is a first and what they will show will be at the Microsoft Theatre, instead of the Galen Center this year, and that means a lot.

Realistically, I’m not expecting anything new in terms of first party exclusives because Microsoft is still probably quite anal to announce new games too early, and wants to take the Bethesda route of announcing games in the year they will most likely be released and hope they do something similar to Playstation when it comes to roadmaps.

In terms of games, expect some traditional and legacy franchises to return like Forza Horizon 4 which reportedly takes place in Japan. The Forza Horizon spin-off franchise is probably the most critically acclaimed out of the entire Forza mainline entry of games  and the 3rd installment is the most celebrated in the franchise. The developer of Forza Horizon, Playground Games, is also working on Fable which won’t be seen at E3 2018.

Gears will probably make an appearance at E3 2018. There are rumors about a Gears spin-off being in the works and will release this year, comparisons has been made to XCOM so that’s exciting. We’ll see if whatever that is will make an appearance at their conference.

As per the interesting thing is that maybe we’ll get first look and glimpse at what Microsoft is building in Santa Monica, a new studio that will be headed by Darrel Gallagher and building a new studio, specifically meant for First Party exclusives is something that Microsoft and Xbox fans need.

Realistically, I expect that third-party games will do all the lifting again, especially Cyberpunk 2077 if rumors are to believed that it will be shown on Microsoft’s stage. Battlefield V, Code Vein, Anthem, Metro Exodus, and perhaps learning more about Fallout 76 since Bethesda always had a close relationship with Microsoft going back to Morrowind.

Hardware & Streaming?

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On the hardware side, Microsoft is seeing success as the Xbox One X was met with huge appraisal in November of 2017. It’s a success for them and now they’ll have to probably release some new hardware a for the console which I expect at E3 2018 and that comes in the form of the Elite controller and their streaming services.

Microsoft has been heading down the road of having Xbox everywhere, just like with Xbox Play Anywhere. I think we’ll see more of their streaming services and I wouldn’t be surprised if we got to see an Xbox app on the Switch or something that would be announced at E3 2018.

In terms of Hardware, I suspect that the next iteration of the Elite Controller will be unveiled at E3. The Elite Controller is about three to two years old and it needs a good update like the rubber gripping not falling off or the sticks and numerous parts of the controller not working anymore, and see the unveiling of the Xbox accessibility controller which allows disabled gamers to play their favorite games which was awesome and good on Microsoft. We might see Microsoft further expanding on that which is great.

Further Improvements on Platforms like Game Pass.

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I’m a big believer in Game Pass and think it could go a long way in making Xbox more service-oriented. It could be the Netflix of gaming where Microsoft can offer not only just first party exclusives but Telltale style games, almost like a weekly or monthly TV show where you have to wait for each episode to be finished. It could go a long way if Microsoft sees that potential and I think they do but not all the way.

They’re looking to bring in third-party games which I think would broaden the appeal to Game Pass and perhaps maybe extend it to the PC similar to Xbox Play Anywhere and I think that is a good idea.

As for Xbox avatars, I think they’ll see their debut at E3 2018 and this time around, Microsoft and Xbox is looking to expand Avatars since they haven’t seen much change since the 360 era and has been somewhat left in the dust with this generation, we haven’t seen much of Avatars. This time, Avatars will extend to games, their Mixed Reality initiative, and much more.

With the Xbox One X now released and seeing a lot of success, I expect to see that Microsoft will expand on what they built last year and go further into the future as this generation begins to wind down. My predictions will be up soon.

 

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