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Forums - Microsoft Discussion - Post E3: Microsoft's First-Party/Exclusives Problem Isn't Solved

During Microsoft's E3 2018 press briefing Phil Spencer announced the acquisition of Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Undead Labs and Compulsion Games, as well as the formation of 'The Initiative', a new Santa Monica based studio. Spencer promised a better future for the Xbox community in terms of AAA exclusive blockbuster titles, but the way I see it, their problems are far from solved by these acqusitions.

Sure these acqusitions is a step in the right direction, but Microsoft's problem isn't just the low output of AAA exclusive titles, but the quality of the games itself. Their tentpole franchises; Halo, Gears of War and Forza Motorsport are far from their peak, and while Forza Horizon, the best current Xbox franchise, is knocking it out of the park, I fear fans of the franchise might get fatigued in the future, as Playground Games keep re-using the same formula, but location - look what happened to Halo and Gears of War. 

Metacritic scores of current generation output from Microsoft Studios, excl. remasters and definitive editions.

  • 343 Industries (average score of 84)
    • Halo 5: Guardians (84 score on Xbox One)
  • The Coalition (avergage score of 85)
    • Gears of War 4 (84 score on Xbox One and 86 on PC)
  • Turn 10 Studios (average score of 83)
    • Forza Motorsport 5 (79 score on Xbox One)
    • Forza Motorsport 6 (87 score on Xbox One)
    • Forza Motorsport 7 (86 score on Xbox One and 82 on PC)
  • Playground Games (average score of 88)
    • Forza Horizon 2 (86 score on Xbox One)
    • Forza Horizon 3 (91 score on Xbox One and 86 on PC)
  • Rare (average score of 67)
    • Killer Instinct (73 score on Xbox One)
    • Kinect Sports Rivals (60 score on Xbox One)
    • Sea of Thieves (69 score on Xbox One and 67 on PC)
  • Undead Labs (average score of 68)
    • State of Decay 2 (67 score on Xbox One and 69 on PC)
  • Compulsion Games (average score of 62)
    • Contrast (59 score on PS4, 62 on PC and 65 on Xbox 360)
  • Ninja Theory (average score of 84)
    • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (88 score on Xbox One, 81 on PS4 and 83 on PC)

I know Metacritic scores isn't the end-all be-all, but it paints a good, and more importantly, true picture of one of Microsoft's biggest shortcomings this generation, quality. Not only has Microsoft Studios's low output been terrible, but the quality of the games has taken a massive dive from the Xbox 360 era. Remember when the world was sat on fire upon the release of a new Halo and Gear of War game? That hasn't happened in a long time. 

It is also worth noting, that Playground Games and Undead Labs were already making Microsoft exclusive titles, Forza Horizon and State of Decay respectively, so them being acquired by Microsoft won't amount to more exclusives on their platforms. With that being said, I'm super excited to see what Ninja Theory does next. I genuinely applaud Microsoft for acquiring such a talented and unique studio. 

Something else I also want to touch on, is Microsoft's  second party situation - Remedy, a studio that has long been associated with the Xbox brand, has chosen to go multiplatform. And Insomniac, that started this generation by allying themselves with Microsoft for Sunset Overdrive, has since released Ratchet and Clank on Playstation 4 and are now working on one of Sony's upcoming tentpole franchises, Spider-Man.

Last edited by LordLichtenstein - on 19 June 2018

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We should wait for them to make new games before we can say if it works out or not. Also you're missing some studios.

Screw metascores, that's a nice list of quality games excluding Contrast and Kinect Sports. And Rare is done with Kinect games anyway. Even low scoring games like SoD2 and SoT have been succesful. And you simply assume it's Remedy that chose to go multiplat while it's more likely MS just won't fund another game for them atm.

Well, while I do agree with you, they just showed what their game plan is (the acquisition of 5 new studios) and it does look promising.So while I agree on the premise, I dont agree 100% with the conclusion.Plus, we will get a new Battletoads man.BATTLETOADS!

My (locked) thread about how difficulty should be a decision for the developers, not the gamers.

I think that these studio acquisition are more geared towards the launch titles of xbox 2, It will be interesting to see the launch line up from both of the manufacturer, Also correct me if I am wrong did microsoft mention that Halo infinite is an xbox one x title?? It was just an engine showcase for slipspace! Microsoft would definitely want Infinite as their launch title on xbox 2.


the real question is who's launch line up will look more appealing with these studio acquisition?

Microsoft : Halo Infinite, forza, Gears 4, Battletoads, Rares next project and whatever these 4 studio comes up with 

Sony: HZD2, GoW 2, TLoU2, Got, Death Stranding, whatever PD (next GT), Japan Studio (BB2), San Mateo Studio, New Unnamed studio/ND 2nd team (Next Uncharted) and there is  Quantic dreams, Insomniac (next R&C), Supermassive (Untill Dawn 2), Bluepoint

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First, let me say that it's not that big of a problem. CoD, FIFA, Madden, and so-on, are what Microsoft's demographic is really interested in. They cater to that audience and they'll be fine. Had they not screwed up the XO launch, they'd be in fantastic shape right now, even while clearly losing the exclusive war.

That being said, blockbuster exclusives are nothing to sneeze at. Particularly blockbuster multiplayer exclusives, which is what Microsoft wants.

Gears, I think, will never regain what it once had under Epic. The games might be good but I don't see it being the same kind of system-seller. They just don't have the same kind of epic (no pun intended) vibe. Halo might have a chance--I'll wait and see what happens with the next game but Halo 5 wasn't exactly a classic.

As for the rest, I mostly agree that it's nothing more than a start.

Undead Labs had already signed an exclusive deal and were supposedly working on multiple games. I think something zombie-ish in the GaaS category has been mentioned. However, the quality of SoD2 didn't seem like much of a jump, so I don't think they'll suddenly start popping out AAA blockbusters.

The two wildcards are the new studio and Ninja Theory. Ninja Theory has the talent to make something really good, though I don't know if they've ever developed a genuine hit. If they keep making games on the same level as before then they'll be a nice addition but nothing that move consoles. They seem to have a ton of potential, though, so we'll see.

If the new studio really is centered around a Tomb Raider/Uncharted adventure game then they have a lot to prove. That's going to be a tough route for a new IP.

I think it's a nice foundation. I'm just not sure that there are many difference makers on tap.

Well,on the first party department they are still behind the other two,but this E3 gave me more hope about their future. Of course one conference alone would not solve all of their problems that is following them for years,but it was a step on the right direction.

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So they shouldn't have bought / opened new studios?

Imagine not having GamePass on your console...

well, my issue with MS is that they haven't solved the new ip AAA game situation for the second half of the gen and are relying once again on their main franchises. We might not see those new games from those new acquisition for the rest of the gen. I also agree that by acquiring those studio as a first party studios doesn't guarantee they are going to be good games. State of decay, sea of thieves ended up being decent to mediocre games and crackdown 3 has taken longer than expected to make a final product. Ninja theory is the wildcard for me because I know that not only they are the kind of developers that like to create new ip but their games are also good.

They are on the way to solve those problems. Their E3 was also about giving food for the future.

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