Call of the Sea and Second Extinction aren't 2nd party, they're 3rd party games, most likely timed exclusives. I like them because they'll be fun to play on Gamepass during slow periods in the yearly release schedule, not because I think they will become big franchises for MS in the future. On the subject of Microsoft's new IP failings this past gen, I would say that they only failed in terms of sales. I thoroughly enjoyed many of their new IP 1st/2nd party games this past gen, Sunset Overdrive, ReCore, Quantum Break, Crimson Dragon, D4, Project Spark, Bleeding Edge, etc. It's a shame that more Xbox fans weren't willing to try new IP in the past, they only cared about the big core franchises, which caused many of the new IP's to fail commercially. Gamepass helps that situation tremendously though, Xbox gamers are far more likely to try new IP when they release for free on Gamepass, and once they play them on Gamepass they often find they like them. I think Gamepass is crucial to the success of new IP for MS moving forward.
I do agree with you that Sony's 1st party studios are ahead of MS currently from a AAA perspective. Sony has 7 AAA capable studios now (Naughty Dog, Sucker Punch, Guerrilla, Santa Monica, Bend, Polyphony, and Insomniac), and most of those studios have now released critical and/or commercially successful games. However, that success comes at a cost, most of Sony's AAA studios are rather on the slow side, Horizon took 5 years to make and the sequel may take 5 years as well (if it gets delayed to Q1 2022, which is possible), Polyphony's GT games take anywhere from 4-6 years, Ghost of Tsushima took 6 years to make, TLOU 2 took 6 years. The slow release schedules mean that many of Sony's AAA 1st party studios only get 1 or 2 games out per generation. So, if you only like a few of those 7 studios like me, that is not alot of AAA exclusives to look forward to each generation from 1st party. Another problem with Sony's 1st party is that there is not alot of genre variety, most of them follow the same formula; open world, story-driven, action-adventure, it all starts to feel a bit samey after awhile.
Microsoft's 1st party on the other hand seems to be trying to trying to catch up to Sony in terms of AAA development now. They already have 343, The Coalition, Turn 10, and Playground Racing from this past gen. The largest of Obsidian's 4 teams is making a AAA RPG. inXile is making a AAA RPG (said by a leaker to be the most ambitious project across all of Microsoft's new AAA studios MS currently). Playground's new RPG studio is making a AAA RPG (believed to be a Fable reboot), The Initiative is making a AAA game (rumored to be a Perfect Dark reboot). Ninja Theory, while not technically a AAA studio, has a goal of making AAA quality games with much smaller AA and A sized teams, with Hellblade 2 being made by only about 40 people, but looking like a AAA so far. MS is trying to even things up in terms of AAA development.
As for 1st party A/AA development, I definitely think that MS has the edge here, on a personal level especially. MS now has many A/AA teams/studios, several of them with good track records. Rare's Everwild looks fantastic so far, Double Fine has multiple teams with a pretty good track record of releases (they've released at least 1 game per year since 2007, with several of them being critically and/or commercially successful). Compulsion's We Happy Few had alot of potential, but got compared against the AAA expectations people had for it, even though it was made by a AA team. State of Decay 2 was pretty good, though a bit of technical and graphical mess (being first party now means that Unreal masters like Coalition and Ninja Theory can assist them making the 3rd game look like a proper next-gen Unreal game). Ninja Theory's Project Mara has potential to be a great psychological horror game. World's Edge is shaping up to be a great PC/console RTS studio in the future. Obsidian's AA The Outer Worlds team is fantastic, and their single A Grounded has potential (played the demo the other day). By comparison, I'm not a big fan of Sony's A/AA 1st party offerings, never liked Little Big Planet, Pixelopus stuff isn't my cup of tea, Japan studio's Project Siren team puts out some good stuff, but the rest of their teams are kind of meh in my eyes.
MAybe you're right and GP will play a key role in giving Ms's A/AA games a spotlight. Personally I just don't care about AA or A games. When I'm deciding which console to buy, I look at the 'must play games' that are on each platform. There is just too much garbage that isn't worth playing and tjats why people read reviews. I never bothered installing games like Recore, State of Decay, Bleeding Edge etc. even when I could play them for free on GP. I agree that I'll probably miss out sometimes and critics opinions aren't everything, but I just don't have the desire, or time, to play every single games that gets released.
In the end GP, Indie games, BC are nice, but in order for me to spend $500 on a console, I want to see those big blockbuster megatons that I can't play anywhere else. I know a lot of MS's studios are rumored to be making AAA or even AAAA games, like the Initiative. But that's something they have to prove in July. All I know is that the Initiative has been stuck on 44 staff for months now, so I'm not expecting to see anything from them for at least half a decade.
I'm definitely going to check out the Grounded demo, though. Downloading it as we speak ;)Last edited by goopy20 - on 18 June 2020